• Mission of the Dual Immersion Language Academy at Manzanita School

    Dual Immersion Logo

    The mission of the Covina-Valley Unified Dual Immersion Magnet Program at Manzanita School will be to develop bilingual and biliterate citizens who are well prepared to succeed in a global economy. Our purpose will be to teach students to embrace and celebrate diversity, to appreciate their home language and culture, and to learn and use a second language in their everyday lives. We will provide rigorous academic standards and excellent language models for our students.

    Misión de la academía de doble inmersión en la escuela Manzanita

    La misión de la academia de doble inmersión de la escuela Manzanita es para desarrollar a ciudadanos bilingües que estén bien preparados para tener éxito en una economía global. Nuestro propósito será enseñar a los alumnos a comprender y a celebrar la diversidad, para apreciar su idioma y cultura natal y para aprender o utilizar un segundo idioma en sus vidas diarias. Proporcionarémos estándares académicos rigurosos y los modelos excelentes del idioma para nuestros alumnos.

 Meet our Dual Immersion Team - Hecha un vistazo a las maestras del programa de doble inmersión



Degrees and Certifications:

Meet our Dual Immersion Team - Hecha un vistazo a las maestras del programa de doble inmersión

Dual Immersion TK

Mrs. Katia Zavatsky

¡Hola! My name is Katia Zavatsky. Please allow me to tell  you a little about myself. I have been a teacher for 10 years now and have had the pleasure of being a dual immersion teacher for nine of those years! My husband of 12 years and I have two wonderful little girls, Annalise and Eliana. As a family, we love to hike and spend as much time outdoors as possible!

I have a fierce passion for teaching. I feel children are capable of anything, and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly they acquire knowledge and pick up language. I have a deep appreciation for different cultures and make it my mission that my students learn about and experience different cultures through music, dance, stories and of course, FOOD!  I am extremely excited to be part of the Mustang family at Manzanita Elementary School! My goal for the kids this year is that they feel supported, challenged, engaged and happy to come to school each day.

Dual Immersion Kinder

Ms. Jennifer Padilla

My name is Jennifer Padilla, and I will be entering my second year of teaching at Manzanita. After graduating with Honors from UC Santa Barbara (Double majored in Psychology and Spanish, minored in Education), I tutored and mentored students in the community of Watts for two years as an AmeriCorps member with the education-based non-profit, City Year. I stayed in Watts for two additional years as an Instructional Assistant while I returned to graduate school at Loyola Marymount University. I received my Masters and Teaching Credential in Bilingual Elementary Education and was awarded the Outstanding Graduate in Bilingual Elementary Education Award as well as the LMU School of Education Graduate Student of the Year Award.

I am passionate about Bilingual Education; holding students to the same academic standards as their English Only peers, while also teaching them to appreciate and engage with different languages and cultures. I am grateful that I am able to do what I love alongside a solid Dual Immersion team here at Manzanita.

Mrs. Socorro Hernandez

Hello, My name is Socorro Hernandez, but I go by Sukie Hernandez! I have taught in the elementary grades for the past 12 years in grades ranging from TK-5.  I am a GATE Certified bilingual teacher who attained a masters in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in technology integration.  I have served as a site tech coach for a previous district and assisted teachers with integrating tech to further student learning. I understand the needs of students learning academics in a new language and have a lot of experience teaching classes with English Learner populations as well as Newcomers and students who are new to the country. I see myself as a pioneer in taking on new challenges! I was the first to open a TK program when this was a new program to the state of California. I have also worked on the school leadership team in different districts and am very passionate about Science.  Being at Manzanita is another challenge, and I know this is the right place for me to be! Bienvenidos!

Dual Immersion 1st grade

Mrs. Yubane Sanchez

Hello! My name is Yubane Sánchez. I am a Los Angeles born Latina who grew up speaking Spanish and immersed in the Mexican culture at home while learning English and the American culture at school. As a mom, I strive to pass on my family’s language and culture to my second generation Mexican-American children, while balancing values that I have come to respect from both cultures.  

I received my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish at CSU Channel Islands. I then obtained my Master of Arts in Teaching at the University of Southern California, where I also taught beginning Spanish courses. I knew I wanted to become a teacher when I first conducted a home visit while working with migrant students in the Ventura County as an undergraduate student. Since then, I value the teacher-parent relationship as a powerful vehicle to help students achieve. In the last 10 years, I have taught Spanish as a second language at both the University and Middle School levels, as well as at third grade and, most recently, in second grade in a bilingual setting. I enjoy teaching language and literacy most and, luckily, there’s language and literacy to be taught in every subject!

Two of my goals as an educator are to instill in my students a love of learning as well as respect for our multicultural world. In my most recent position as elementary teacher, I co-founded a scholarship program that awards alumni graduating from High School entering into an institution of higher learning. In addition, I proposed and spearheaded the annual Soy Bilingüe Festival event in response to a lack of awareness within the Latino community on the importance of maintaining and developing the first language while acquiring English language proficiency. I am very happy to be joining the Manzanita Family and to be able to collaborate with a team who are committed to bilingualism and biliteracy. 

Ms. Melody Vasquez

Hello, my name is Melody Vazquez. I am a bilingual educator who is relocating from Mission Viejo to join the Manzanita team, and I am very excited to grow with this dual immersion team. I have been an elementary school teacher for twelve years, and I come with 3 years of Dual Immersion teaching experience. Recently, I was awarded the teacher of the year from my district, which was such an honor. I am a reading specialist which means, I love to read. As a reading specialist, my passion is to teach children literacy (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and link it to the different content areas. Reading is a journey in itself and a place to get lost. Dual Immersion students must become proficient readers and also master language acquisition! This means the dual immersion teacher's job is extremely important in providing a balance between comprehensible input and time for oral and academic language output. 

On a personal note, I enjoy hiking and I am currently learning to play the acoustic guitar. I am very excited to be at Manzanita!

Dual Immersion 2nd grade

Mrs. Claudia Castorena

My name is Claudia Castorena. I have taught for 17 years in Los Angeles area.  I have a Reading Specialist Credential and a Masters in Reading from Cal State Fullerton. Most of my experience has been in the dual programs. Before that, I was a teacher assistant in what used to be known as “bilingual” classrooms. It was as a teacher assistant that I fell in love with teaching.  Most of my experience comes from using a balanced literacy approach with reader’s and writer’s workshop. I have experience with CGI (Cognitive Guided Instruction) in Math which teaches students to critically think about Math not just find algorithms to solving problems. I also have experience in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) which I try to infuse into my lessons on a daily basis. Art also plays a big role in my teaching methods as it helps students, who are learning a second language, internalize new concepts. Art is also a vehicle to bring in culture and traditions. 

As a reading specialist, I love to read and TEACH reading. Every read aloud is my FAVORITE!  I wish to for my students to become excited about stories and books and love to read. Each time I read a book, I tell my students that this is my favorite book and then after a while, they catch on that ALL books are my favorite.  I want children to be lifelong learners, to be inquisitive and curious about the world around them. I think that being a part of the Dual Immersion team at Manzanita is a great place to be part of growing lifelong learners. 

Mrs. Cristina Castellon

My name is Cristina Castellon and I am honored and humbled to be currently working at Manzanita Elementary School as a Spanish dual language immersion teacher.  I have a Bachelors of Arts in Child Development: Emphasis in Early Childhood Education with a BCLAD Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. My first teaching job was at Los Angeles Unified School District where I taught approximately for 14 years. I started in the role of  Bilingual Spanish teacher for 4 years, English Immersion teacher and English only for 2nd grade, 3rd. grade, 4th grade, and a multi-age classroom (Kinder-2nd). I also had the opportunity to successfully teach the Migrant Program for 3 summers. I took a few years off from teaching when my second child was born. Prior to Manzanita I worked for a year at West Covina Unified School District on a special assignment as a Reading Intervention teacher.

I am extremely passionate about teaching a second language because I am a product of being bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural. One of my goals is to further my education by acquiring a Masters in Bilingual Education so I can continue to be a leader in this field. My favorite part of being a teacher is being able to work with my students, and to instill in them a sense of self, confidence and a knowledge of who they are culturally, academically, socially and personally. I love my students and I like teaching them not only academics, but also about their communities and society as a whole.

And finally when I am not teaching, I enjoy painting, cooking, salsa/merengue dancing, meeting up with friends and spending time with my family.


    Q: Do parents need to be proficient in Spanish to send a child to Manzanita?
    No. Parents do not need to have proficiency in the Spanish language. School bulletins and homework instructions are sent home in both languages. We also have opportunities for parents to pick up some Spanish too. About half our families are monolingual English speakers – so you will not be alone if you do not speak Spanish in your home.

    P: ¿Los padres necesitan ser proficientes en español para que su hijo/a asista a Manzanita?
    No. Los padres no necesitan tener proficiencia en el idioma español. Los boletines e instrucciones para la tarea se mandan al hogar en ambos idiomas. También tenemos oportunidades para que los padres aprendan algo de español también. Aproximadamente la mitad de nuestras familias son monolingües quienes hablan inglés – así es que usted no estará sólo si no habla español en su casa.

    Q: How can I help with homework if I don’t know Spanish?
    Parents can support students at home by making sure that they have the right environment and tools to get homework done (e.g., a quiet space and enough time, paper, dictionaries in both languages, writing utensils, and art supplies such as construction paper, paste, tape, and colored makers). Parents can also ask questions about the homework in the language spoken at home, thus giving the students opportunities to explain the assignment in their first language. Homework is generally reading or math practice or extra time to work on a project begun in the classroom. Children generally have homework buddies that they can call if they need clarification

    P: ¿Cómo puedo ayudar con la tarea si no sé español?
    Los padres pueden apoyar a los estudiantes en el hogar al asegurarse de que tengan el ambiente adecuado y las herramientas necesarias para terminar la tarea (por ejemplo, un espacio callado y suficiente tiempo, papel, diccionarios en ambos idiomas, útiles para escribir, y materiales de arte como papel de construcción, pegamento, cinta, y marcadores de colores). Los padres también pueden hacer preguntas sobre la tarea en el idioma que se habla en casa, así le dan a los estudiantes la oportunidad de explicar la tarea en su primer idioma. La tarea generalmente es práctica de lectura o matemáticas o tiempo extra para trabajar en un proyecto que empezaron en la clase. Los niños generalmente tienen compañeros de tarea a los cuales pueden llamar si necesitan clarificación. Las maestras y estudiantes están listos para ayudar a los niños a completar la tarea exitosamente.

    Q: How do I know if my child is a good fit for an immersion program?
    Research has shown that students from a variety of different backgrounds can be successful in dual immersion programs. Students from different ethnic, socioeconomic, and language backgrounds, and with varying academic strengths and needs, have all benefited from dual language education. If your child has special learning needs that make you wonder if this might be an appropriate placement, we’d be happy to talk with you and explore the issues in more depth.

    P:  ¿Cómo sé si mi hijo/a es un buen candidato para un programa de inmersión?
    Las investigaciones muestran que los estudiantes de una variedad de diferentes orígenes pueden ser exitosos en programas de doble inmersión. Los estudiantes de diferentes orígenes étnicos, socioeconómicos, y de idiomas, y con fuerzas y necesidades académicas variantes, todos han beneficiado de la educación de dobles idiomas. Si su hijo/a tiene necesidades especiales de aprendizaje que lo hacen pensar si esto será un lugar adecuado, estaremos contentos de hablar con usted y explorar los temas en más profundidad.

    What is the possibility of acceptance into the program at Manzanita?
    Dual Immersion programs are popular program choices and each year as we grow, we anticipate filling quickly. Manzanita's overall goal is to enroll approximately equal numbers of children with Spanish language background and children with English language background because that’s the way that dual language programs work best.

    P: ¿Cuáles son las probabilidades de ser aceptados en la programa en la escuela de Manzanita?
    Programas de doble inmersión son populares oportunidades y cada año como crecemos, anticapamos que llenarémos muy rápido. La meta sobre todo de Manzanita es inscribir aproximadamente cantidades iguales de niños hispano-parlantes y ingles-parlantes porque así es la manera que funciona mejor el programa de doble inmersión.

    Q: How long does it take to learn a new language?
    Normally it takes 4-7 years to learn a new language. Each student is different. For this reason, we hope that students stay in the immersion program from Kinder through 8th grade.

    P: ¿Cuánto tiempo toma para aprender un idioma nuevo?
    Normalmente toma 4 a 7 años para aprender un idioma nuevo. Cada estudiante es diferente. Por esta razón esperamos que los estudiantes sean parte del programa de inmersión desde Kínder hasta octavo grado.

    Q: Can I remove my child from the program after a couple of years?
    We recommend that students stay in the program from Kinder through 8th grade so that they reach high levels of Spanish and English.

    P:¿Puedo sacar mi hijo/a del programa después de unos años?
    Recomendamos que los estudiantes sean parte del programa desde Kínder hasta octavo grado para llegar a niveles altos en el español y el inglés.

    Q: How much time is spent teaching in Spanish and how much time is spent teaching in English?
    The program begins with the majority of the day in Spanish. Each year the students receive more of the core curriculum in English until they reach 50% Spanish and 50% English.


    Kinder: 90% / 10%

    1st grade: 80% / 20%

    2nd grade: 70% / 30%

    3rd grade: 60 % / 40%

    4th grade: 50% / 50%

    5th grade: 50% / 50%

    P: ¿Cuánto tiempo se les enseña en inglés y cuánto tiempo se les enseña en español?
    El programa comienza con la mayor parte del día en español. Cada año los estudiantes reciben más del currículo básico hasta llegar a 50% español y 50% inglés.


    Kinder: 90% / 10%

    1er grado: 80% / 10%

    2do grado: 70% / 30%

    3er grado: 60% / 40%

    4to grado: 50% / 50%

    5to grado: 50% / 50%

    Q: Do the teachers have specific preparation to teach in an immersion program?
    Each teacher in the program has a credential from the state of California to teach in Spanish. Additionally, each teacher has been prepared to teach students who are learning an additional language.

    P: ¿Los maestros tienen preparación específica para enseñar en un programa de inmersión?
    Cada maestro en el programa tiene un credencial del estado de California para enseñar en español. Además, cada maestro ha sido preparado para enseñar a estudiantes que están aprendiendo un idioma adicional.