NY: A NEW SCHOOL PLANS TO TEACH HALF OF CLASSES USING ARABIC
The New York City school system will open its first public school dedicated to teaching the Arabic language and culture in September, with half of its classes eventually taught in Arabic, officials said yesterday.
The school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, is one of 40 new schools that the Department of Education is opening for the 2007-8 school year. It will serve grades 6 to 12 and will be in Brooklyn, although a specific location has not been determined.
Debbie Almontaser, a 15-year veteran of the school system who is the driving force behind the school and will be its principal, said that ideally, the school would serve an equal mix of students with backgrounds in Arabic language and culture and those without such backgrounds.
''We are wholeheartedly looking to attract as many diverse students as possible, because we really want to give them the opportunity to expand their horizons and be global citizens,'' said Ms. Almontaser, who emigrated from Yemen when she was 3 and is fluent in Arabic.
''I see students who are excited about engaging in international careers, international affairs, wanting to come to our school. And I also see Arab-American students who would want the opportunity to learn Arabic, to read it and write it and have a better understanding of where their ancestors have come from.''
Next year, Ms. Almontaser said, the school, which is named after a Lebanese poet and philosopher, will have only sixth graders. It will grow year by year, and will eventually serve 500 to 600 students; by the third year, she said, she hoped that half of the school's classes would be taught in Arabic and half in English.