February 23


No. 11

From Costa Rica to Gig Harbor - Spreading a passion for Spanish
El hogar es donde está el corazón
It's approximately 4,500 miles from Gig Harbor, WA to the town in Costa Rica that Xinia Agee calls home.  It was back in her country that she began teaching Spanish at an international school, setting her on the path that led to here.  "It was total immersion," Senora Agee laughs, referring to her early days in education and the fact that she spoke no English.  Before long, she'd see the children's faces responding to her as she spoke to them in Spanish.  "They were learning so quickly and I could see how much they loved it, getting to that level of comprehension."
The joy of teaching took hold of her, and she spent eight years in the public system in her country.  This experience opened an opportunity for Senora Agee to come to America and work with American kids in a summer camp setting.  Bringing fresh ideas and enthusiasm, she trained other teachers while learning about the camp experience.  This back and forth exchange went on for years and led to her involvement in a mission driven program that focused on working with intercity Puerto Rican kids from Chicago to Missouri.  "It was another opportunity to grow in my English," she says, with her signature sparkle.
Working with the summer camps led Senora Agee to meeting her husband and they lived in Hawaii and California before finding their way to Gig Harbor, the place they now call home; chosen because it was a wonderful community for her kids.  Her commitment to her family kept her out of the workforce, but her desire for teaching was still strong.  After ten years at home, she started an after-school Spanish program at a local public school.  It brought her full-circle back to her beginnings and she loved seeing the happy faces of the kids responding as they learned her language.  But, at just one-hour a week, "that was not enough." 

Much like the serend ipity that characterized the rest of her career path, Senora Agee discove red Gig Harbor Academy at a time when they needed a Spanish teacher.  "I loved the school, the feeling of the school and the people were very welc oming."  It was exactly 
what she was looking for and, after one class she knew she had found a place to call home.  She committed to three days a week.
Eight years later, the Gig Harbor Academy language curriculum is thriving as an authentic representation of Spanish culture around the globe.  "Each class gets 30 minutes, three times a week, and preschool gets 20 minutes."  Senora Agee is enthusiastic about instilling a love of her language in the kids and explains that she teaches everything, like science and math, just in Spanish.  "It's about providing them a rich Spanish culture in an environment that includes extended learning opportunities for all types of learners."  She has enhanced her program by devoting funds from last year's auction to Spanish apps and books for the upper grades, and visual reinforcements and classroom manipulatives for the younger grades. 

Hers is an approach that focuses on cultural differences from Central to South America and culminates in a yearly Global Hispanic Festival, which includes a presentation of dances and traditions.  A highlight of the day is the catered food served after the presentation.  "The first year I cooked all the tacos myself," she laughs, describing the tremendous amount of work that goes into the day.  It was so well-received that a GHA tradition was born.

Being at GHA for as long as she has, many of her early students are now preparing to go to middle-school.  "My fifth graders have an enriched vocabulary," she says proudly, explaining that many children are not even exposed to a second language until middle school.  Senora Agee beams with satisfaction, "They are ready." 

This is her country now.  
El hogar es donde está el corazón. 
Home is where the heart is.

Thank you for donating 
we reached $40,430!
A huge thank you to our families and community supporters
Preschool reached 20% participation
Pre Kindergarten reached 25%
Kindergarten is one pledge away from 100%*
1st Grade is one pledge away from 100%*

The following classes reached 100% and will be having a party!
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade

*Because Kindergarten and 1st Grade are so close to 100%, we'd like to extend an offer to the remaining families.  If you donate or pledge by Friday of next week (March 4), we will count it towards their party.  
 A donation or pledge of any size counts to completion.   

To Donate -  Click Here  to donate now. 
To pledge, contact:   The Business Office

Our stretch project:  Covered area for rainy day P.E. and gathering space. 
Though we didn't reach our financial goal to fund the covered play area, it doesn't mean we're giving up.  We're still working on creative methods of providing this space.  We'll keep you posted. 

The Annual Project Fund will continue through the end of the school year, and donations may be made at any time to cover this year's projects. 

We thank you for your kindness and generosity.  Look for party photos and project photos to come!  

To Donate - click here to go the Annual Project Fund page on our website!
To find out more contact:   admissions@gigharboracademy.org