First graders in Rosalia Saenz’s bilingual classroom at Ramirez Thomas Elementary School planned out the pages of a writing project con los deditos — on their fingers — and then got to work illustrating stories about their holiday traditions.

They spoke, largely in Spanish, of hotly anticipated Christmas gifts and tamales on that morning in mid-December.

This kind of bilingual education places value on students’ home language and culture while preparing them to achieve in English, Ramirez Thomas Principal Loretta Booker said.

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Rosalia Saenz, a first grade bilingual teacher at Ramirez Thomas Elementary School, works with her students last month.

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Rosalia Saenz, a first grade bilingual teacher at Ramirez Thomas Elementary School, works last month with Perla Soriano, 8.

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