Five children in white collared shirts and black shorts crowd around the chair of their teacher. As she begins the lesson, their voices quiet and they listen intently. Not only does she speak to them in English, but she also dictates the lesson in French and Spanish.
Eagles on the Rock Academy, located right here in Katy, TX, is the only school of its kind in the state. It combines language immersion with Christian values and top-notch curriculum to give young children an educational experience they won’t get anywhere else.
It all began with a vision from Pastor Jorge Cardenas of Church on the Rock Katy.
“[The pastor] wanted to create a Christian school that would offer a very high-quality education in French and Spanish,” the school’s director, Dorothee Henderson, said. “For years it was just a dream, but then it started to become a reality.”
A student of Henderson’s was a parishioner at Church on the Rock. The child’s family introduced the teacher to the pastor and the academy began to take shape. Cardenas asked Henderson to come on board as the director, and soon they were planning the curriculum.
“We’re following the curriculum basically of the French government,” she said. “It is a very demanding program. We are adapting it in Spanish as well.”
Henderson has seen firsthand how easily children adapt to language—both in her classroom at previous educational institutions and in her own home.
“After a week of instruction, the kids, at every age level, understand the commands in each language and respond to those commands,” she said. “Even my own children can switch back and forth from speaking to their father in English and to me in French without being taught how to do that.”
So, how does Henderson combine these two languages and still teach reading and arithmetic?
“One day, the main subject will be in French and the next day it will be in Spanish,” Henderson said. “It’s extremely easy for kids to switch from one language to the next.”
Right now the youngest students are three-year-olds and the oldest are in kindergarten. This will be the case for the 2016-2017 school year as well. But in August 2017, the school hopes to offer schooling for all elementary-aged children.
Henderson, a French native, said that being immersed in different languages can actually make children smarter.
“When children are learning multiple languages, both hemispheres of the brain are working hard,” she said. “That makes children more aware of other people and more aware of different ways to think and to react. It’s helping to prepare them for life.”
The school will also help children learn practical skills like gardening and farming along with their core classes.
“We have many different specials during the day,” Henderson said. “We have gardening for every child, a science building, drama classes, music class, and P.E. We’re trying to each the whole child, inside and out.”
Part of caring for the whole child is caring for their spiritual life as well. Because the school is a part of Church on the Rock, integrating a Christ-centered focus is important.
“We want children to have a good basis for life,” she said. “We have devotionals every day, and focus on what’s most important. We want to guide the children in a healthy and safe way.”
Parents who want to find out more information about the school and its values, should go to academyontherock.org.
If you are interested in the classes offered at Eagles on the Rock Academy please call (281) 945-4540.