Lakewood Elementary is known city-wide as one of the best elementary schools in Dallas, and has led the charge of public school attendance in East Dallas. Part of the success has been the dual-language program, where students learn core subjects in Spanish and English simultaneously. While bilingualism is great for the students, they can cause frustration for their mono-lingual teachers and parents.
"I literally, do not know what they are saying," says Reed Books, the librarian at the school. "When they come to the library, they speak Spanish, and I am pretty sure they are making fun of me." Books, who is known at school for his colorful sweater and chino combinations, is convinced the third graders don't appreciate his fashion sense. "I may not know the words, but I can understand tone and eye-rolls."
Carolyn Cornelia, a third grader at Lakewood Elementary, responded with shock. "I don't know why Mr. Books would think that, lo amamos y tiene la ropa de un payaso!" This monolingual reporter can only assume the cute, innocent child was complimenting Mr. Books and his wardrobe.
Stu Dentkar, the Assistant Principal at Lakewood Elementary, is bewildered by the Spanish language and teachers' complaints. "I have no idea what they are saying, but look at them. They are too cute to use their Spanish to plot against us or make fun of us."
Dentkar is known for turning the daily announcements in to a limerick read over the P.A. system every day in class, a beloved tradition he has continued while working there the last 32 years. While speaking with Dentkar, a group of 5th graders could be heard saying, "Sus poemas suenan como un gato moribundo."
English-only parents are frustrated with their inability to keep up with their children's Spanish as well. Alexander Cornelia, Carolyn's father, is worried about the disconnect. "I am pretty sure she is plotting against me with her brother. Every morning over breakfast, they speak to each other in Spanish, and I sit there. unable to understand a word. They laugh and look my way, and I think their conversations have to do with how my keys keep getting misplaced, causing us to be late to school."
Juana Chiste, the Dual Language Director at Lakewood Elementary, was succinct on the subject, "Los ninos son ninos."