My Davidson | A Student Blog Our Present and Future Is Multilingual Education

three young people present in front of a screen in a large room of people

Over the eight week period, along with other Fellows, Fortunato ’24 presented reflections on work to local nonprofit leaders.

Courtney Fortunato ’24 shares their experience as an Education Scholar with Davidson’s Center for Civic Engagement in Summer 2022.

About the Author

Courtney Fortunato ’24 (they/them/theirs) is an English and environmental studies double major from Columbus, Georgia.

“I’m a human who cares a lot about reading, writing and conversation. Future dreams: tree house living and bilingualism.”

Last summer, as an Education Scholar through the CCE (Center for Civic Engagement), I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with the Charlotte Bilingual Preschool (CltBP) as a research assistant for eight weeks. One of a handful of bilingual preschools in the state of North Carolina, CltBP is unique for its effective and culturally informed dual language model, delivering a high-quality bilingual, multicultural, early childhood education for Spanish speaking children. The CltBP operates using a two-way immersion model, where children are taught English and Spanish on alternating days by a teacher whose primary language is either English or Spanish.

As a research assistant, I worked alongside Dr. Drew GaDaire (who joined the Davidson psychology department this fall!) and rising Wake Forest senior, Gabriella Gomez-Saxon, to analyze and interpret data regarding the preschool’s use of Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) results to better understand each child’s unique social-emotional strengths and needs. This two-generation intervention strategy involved the facilitation of Family Cafes, which are gatherings to discuss DECA results and related effective strategies. The purpose of this intervention is to align parents and teachers in their efforts to support the child’s social-emotional development and future academic achievement. Throughout the summer, I completed several different projects, such as transcribing and coding qualitative data from parental focus groups, using SPSS software to support explorations of how intentional and shared use of DECA results influences parenting behaviors and childrens’ social-emotional development, as well as contributing to visually appealing and effective presentations showcasing CltBPs philosophy of change as an effective dual-language model.

Many of my favorite days, however, were spent in the classroom. As a Spanish language learner for about five years now, I was in awe of the language skills of children who have been alive less time than I’ve been enrolled in a Spanish course. Experiencing language diversity in a classroom setting was, unfortunately, a wholly unique experience to me. In the moments when I didn’t know a word in Spanish with a four-year-old, they were always patient with me, curious and kind. Many switched between the two languages seamlessly, their little brains already housing a rich perspective of the world and so much potential to both deepen and widen their connections with others in the future. Dual language education emphasizes communication in all forms, and this strategy empowers children from various language backgrounds to share their experiences, appreciate their familial or cultural traditions, and grow from one another simultaneously. This active coexistence — that brings together family, cultural tradition, and language in the classroom — is not only beautiful but necessary for our present and the future of education.

Center for Civic Engagement Summer Positions

Through these experiences and a shared curriculum, CCE summer interns explore complex social issues, build community capacity and develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and communication. All opportunities are in the Greater Charlotte and Lake Norman Region and provide students with a stipend and housing. Summer Positions are made possible through the William F. and Betty G. Mulliss Foundation, the Davidson Class of ’68 and the Davidson Class of ‘89.

Learn more about CCE Summer Positions

Apply for CCE Summer Positions in WildcatSync (Davidson login required)


  • January 31, 2023