Less than two miles from AT&T stadium, Wimbish sits stoically in a neighborhood where 84% of the students were historically considered economically disadvantaged. After Arlington Independent School District (AISD), made the decision was made that Wimbish would be transformed from a standard elementary school to a new language academy, ShareFest-Texas (SFT) got involved and proposed a dose of SFT magic!
At this new Wimbish World Language Academy, prekindergarten through sixth-grade students can select a dual-language pathway in either English/Spanish or English/French that will ensure that students are fluent Spanish or French speakers before they enter junior high. Additionally, students will have exposure to world cultures, an introduction to a third language, and summertime activities to help keep their language skills sharp.
While AISD planned to complete a standard remodeling, the unique aspect of this innovative language academy was missing. Their plan did not incorporate an emphasis on world studies or incorporate any visual clues that would differentiate Wimbish from any other newly remodeled school. SFT wanted to change this by adding elements that would celebrate the uniqueness of the school and the exciting cultures the students would be learning.
To increase student commitment and celebrate the unique nature of Wimbish, SFT embarked on creating a special and welcoming environment. The use of visual graphics strongly appeals to students by helping build a sense of pride and a bond with their school. The introduction of murals and graphics also connects what they are learning with real places, real people whose culture and languages are worth studying, exploring and someday, visiting.
SFT started by enhancing the exterior by clearing out old plants and grading the areas. This area is especially noteworthy as the west side of the building has thousands of cars pass by each day. SFT’s landscape architect developed a plan and with generous donations form a local wholesale plant company and the efforts of dozens of University of Texas – Arlington (UTA) Circle K students, and even more high school students –we transformed three areas with new landscaping.
And our resident artists made a big impact –our carpenter made new entry signs in multiple languages and our muralist, Michael, began his multi-year project of creating collages of the landmarks at each of the countries that are being studied. Sitting high above the cafeteria, these murals provide daily fuel for young imaginations. SFT is thankful it could contribute to this exciting project and work to create an atmosphere of fun and interest in world languages and culture.