About Us
Diversity Equity Inclusion & Belonging at Severn

Severn Unida en Celebración

Learning a language at the elementary school level is more than vocabulary, sentence structure, and inflection. In addition to boosting problem-solving, critical thinking, and listening skills, the study of language can be a powerful tool for discovery. Jumpstarting the year with a celebration of Hispanic culture in every grade, Ms. Diana Doroteo invites our Lower School Admirals to explore and appreciate the Spanish-speaking community.
Spanish teacher using a llama puppet to tell a story to Severn School kindergarten students.
Ms. Doroteo with her puppet, "Machu," capturing the imaginations of our kindergarteners as they listen to a story and learn to count to ten in Spanish.

An Immersive Experience

Ms. Doroteo joined Severn this fall and her passion for teaching language makes for a welcoming and energetic classroom. In developmentally appropriate stages for each grade, she uses the full immersion model to help students learn through context.
  • Our preschool-1st grade curriculum is rooted in the Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) approach. Through music, stories, and cultural lessons that include the repetition of high frequency words and expressions, our littlest Admirals develop foundational skills for interpretation and fluency.
  • In 2nd-3rd grade, students learn to speak and write in the first person to build their self-identities in Spanish. They explore the lives of children their age in Spanish-speaking countries and learn vocabulary to express personality traits, hobbies, family life, and community.
  • The 4th-5th grade curriculum also includes storytelling but with a grammatical shift to the third person. Students continue to build their vocabulary, speaking, and writing skills through stories that help them understand Spanish as a global language.
Severn School lower school student asking a question about an assignment in Spanish class while holding up a worksheet written in Spanish.
Ms. Doroteo regularly asks her students to explain their understanding as they work through a lesson. Because she is speaking only in Spanish, it is important to give students opportunities to question and practice.

Celebrating Culture Through Learning

In each of her classes, Ms. Doroteo incorporates the history, notable figures, and current customs that make Hispanic culture an essential part of our society. During Hispanic Heritage Month, falling just as the school year began, Ms. Doroteo's students dove into these lessons right from the start. Lesson examples include:
  • In preschool-1st grade, students read the story, Silly Billy by Anthony Browne about a Guatemalan boy kept up at night by his worries. When he stays at his abuela's (grandmother) house, she gives him worry dolls and says, "Just tell each of them one of your worries and put them under your pillow. They'll do all the worrying for you while you sleep." The classes made a worry doll craft and received an authentic Guatemalan worry doll to take home.
  • 2nd and 3rd graders read and participated in a retelling of "The Legend of the Worry Dolls." Retelling helps students analyze a story and build oral language as they acquire vocabulary. They also received a handmade Guatemalan worry doll to take home.
  • 4th and 5th graders studied the Spanish singer Álvaro Soler and his 2019 song, "La Libertad." At first listen, it is a light-hearted song about friends on an adventure together. But after reading an interview with the singer, students discover that Soler was inspired to write the song after meeting a refugee who struggled to flee from Cuba.
Bulletin board with the colors of the Mexican flag and student projects to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Ms. Doroteo included the names of every Lower School student along with 2nd grade projects featuring Mexican painter Frida Kahlo on this bulletin board to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month.

Making Language Learning Fun

In every lesson, Ms. Doroteo uses stories, videos, enthusiastic facial expressions, movement, and exaggerated tone of voice to support her students' comprehension while encouraging them to get silly and have fun. With this joyful combination of Spanish cultural experiences, storytelling, and grammar, our Admirals are gaining a better understanding of themselves, the language, and the world.
Severn Lower School students jumping as they learn the Spanish word for jump.
Our kindergarteners learning the word "salto" or . . . jump!

Lower School

Upper School