The High Point Schools Partnership had the privilege of sitting down and talking with Carla Flores-Ballesteros, principal of Allen Jay Elementary School. Originally from Mexico City, Flores-Ballesteros attended the Modern American School before moving to Kentucky. Once in the United States, she finished High School at Paducah Tilghman. From here, she attended Murray State University for 2 years before moving back to Mexico. Here, she attended Universidad Ibero Americana and began teaching ESL. Flores-Ballesteros landed in North Carolina after her husband was relocated here for work. Once in NC, she attended Greensboro College and focused on Spanish in the K-12 classroom.
In the classroom, Flores-Ballesteros taught Spanish immersion for 10 years at Jones Elementary School. She focused on mainly math, spending half of her years in 3rd and the other half in 4th grade. At this school, her focus was Spanish Immersion but she also provided support for the students on the traditional side. followed her students to their other classes to support them in English as well. From here, Flores-Ballesteros became a Principal Fellow and obtained her Masters in School Administration, as well as her Education Specialist Degree, from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She became an administrative intern at Grimsley High School, assistant principal at Western Guilford Middle before coming to Allen Jay Elementary in 2017. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Education.
Flores-Ballesteros has received a great deal of recognition for her work at Allen Jay. She had been nominated for Principal of the Year every year in her four full years at the school. Three of those years she was a finalist and this year she won Elementary Principal of the Year.
When asked about the successes of her school, Flores-Ballesteros was excited to share some details about Allen Jay’s two dual-language programs. These programs started about four years ago and have prospered under her leadership. In the first dual-language immersion program offered in Spanish, students receive half of their instructional time in English and the other half in Spanish. This is an opt-in program so it is open to any student in Allen Jay’s district who wishes to participate. Both native speakers of English and Spanish are encouraged to join. This group of diverse students allows for them to learn the target language from one another. The school also offers the same model as the Urdu language, the national language of Pakistan.
The Urdu program is not just meaningful to the Allen Jay family, it has received national recognition. They are the only school in the country to offer a program of this nature. School personnel has also presented at national conferences to demonstrate their co-teaching model. Allen Jay utilizes the 3L program for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to support their English Language Learners. This program implements a push-in model (where the ESL teacher comes into the general education classroom) during Language Arts times. The program also builds off of the Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) curriculum in lower grades and the American Reading Company (ARC) curriculum in upper grades to support the students in grade-level content.
Flores-Ballesteros also wanted to highlight the diversity she sees as a great strength in her school. Allen Jay is one of the most diverse in the county and that has created a close-knit school community. Staff enjoy working with one another and stay at Allen Jay as long as they can. The relationship among school personnel shows when they work together to meet the needs in the community. To support not just their students, but their families as well, all materials sent out from the school are translated into Spanish, English, and Urdu. These models of inclusion and accessibility have secured Allen Jay as a beloved neighborhood school.
Thank you Carla for sitting down and talking with us. We look forward to continuing to talk with and highlight different High Point principals and all the good going on at their school.