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New Spanish Dual-Immersion School Named for Carmen Melendez
Posted 2/13/19

Carmen R. MelendezScheduled to open its doors in August 2019, the Fremont Unified School District’s new Spanish Dual-Immersion elementary school has found the perfect name to place on its marquee.

 

After re-acquiring the former site of Marshall Elementary School in 2016, the FUSD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve staff’s recommendation to repurpose the facility to host the District’s Spanish Dual-Immersion program currently split among Blacow, Grimmer and Vallejo Mill Elementary Schools. After a presentation from the Spanish Immersion New School Task Force, the Board elected to name the school after longtime FUSD teacher and administrator, Carmen Melendez, at its February 13, 2019, meeting.

 

Carmen R. Melendez was born and raised in Puerto Rico where she received her B.A. from the University of Puerto Rico and taught junior high in her hometown before serving in the U.S. Navy. After moving to California, Melendez obtained teaching credentials and taught college classes for several years. Her career at FUSD began in 1964 when she joined the faculty at Mission San Jose High School where she taught Spanish for nine years and developed the first Spanish AP curriculum in the District. She then moved on to American High School teaching Spanish and Social Studies while completing her Master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision at Cal State Hayward.

 

In 1974, Melendez was recruited to work at the FUSD District Office and charged with developing the District’s first bilingual education program. The resulting product would be recognized as the first Exemplary Bilingual Education Program by the California Department of Education in 1987 and later receive a Program of Academic Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Education. Other programs and services created by Melendez that continue to this day include the Mandarin Immersion Program hosted at Azevada Elementary School, the Language Assessment Center, English Language Development and content classes for English Learners and parent education services for immigrant families. She was promoted to Director of State and Federal Projects in 1992 where she supervised several District programs and brought in millions of dollars in state and federal funding in support of FUSD students.

 

After 32 years of service to FUSD, Melendez retired in 1996, but her work was far from done. She served for 18 years as a volunteer for the District’s Personnel Commission, which serves as the governing body of FUSD’s merit system. She also remained heavily involved in her community serving on the executive board of the Hispanic Community Affairs Council of Alameda County for 15 years including 11 as Treasurer. Melendez and her family have funded annual scholarships for low-income university students and she has mentored countless students and educators – many of whom going on to become FUSD teachers, principals and administrators. She remains a strong advocate for immigrant students and families who have come to Fremont from around the world.

 

FUSD is excited and proud to name its new Spanish Dual-Immersion elementary school after a woman who is the embodiment of the District’s motto of ‘Inspire, Educate, Challenge.’