San Martin Gwinn second-graders Zoey Lopez and Aleah Garcia wait to start their first class in the school’s courtyard on Aug. 16. Photo: Michael Moore

On Aug. 16, more than 8,100 students at 14 Morgan Hill Unified School District campuses—from Transitional Kindergarten to high school—greeted each other and their teachers on the first day of the 2022-23 school year.

At San Martin Gwinn Elementary School—a TK-through-8th grade campus—parents walked their younger children inside the perimeter fence, where teachers and staff organized lines for students to queue up for each respective class. Middle school students on the north side of campus gathered with their friends outside their classrooms before the first bell rang at 8am.

About 700 students attend SMG. Over the last decade or so, MHUSD staff and SMG faculty have introduced a robust and growing Dual Immersion Multicultural Education program at the school. DIME is a “dual language” curriculum that teaches school subjects in both English and a second target language—in this case, Spanish.

SMG Principal Alex Aasen noted that the 2022-23 school year is starting off with expanded DIME classes for the school’s youngest students.

“Our faculty and staff are excited to welcome back our students and families!” Aasen said in an email. “We are starting this school year with our new Dual Language TK class in addition to three Dual Language kinder classes, and we look forward to transitioning to full K-8 participation in the Dual Language program over the next seven years.”

SMG began incorporating DIME programming into its curriculum in 2010. The immersion program has grown steadily since then.

SMG uses the “90/10 model” of dual language immersion; starting in Kindergarten, 90% of the students’ instructional day is in Spanish and 10% is in English, says the school’s website. As students advance each grade level, their English instruction increases by 10% each year until fourth grade when children are taught 50/50 Spanish and English.

“More than 40 years of research consistently documents the power of immersion programs to help students attain high levels of second-language proficiency,” the school’s website explains. “No other type of instruction is as successful, and young children thrive in this type of instructional environment.”

As of the beginning of this school year, about 70% of students at SMG are enrolled in the DIME curriculum, according to school staff.

After the first day was over on Aug. 16, Aasen added, “We were thrilled to see all of our returning families and new families joining our community today! There was a tangible buzz of excitement for the new year, especially with the increased daily enrichment opportunities for our TK-5 students.”

San Martin Gwinn sixth-grade teacher Ms. Richards welcomes her students on the first day of school Aug. 16. Photo: Michael Moore
Students run to catch up with their classmates as the first bell rings to start the instructional day at San Martin Gwinn on Aug. 16. Photo: Michael Moore

SMG, founded in 1895, is the oldest operating school in MHUSD. It is located on a 16-acre campus in the heart of unincorporated San Martin.

The 2022-23 school year marks the first local return to campus since the pandemic started in which no strict social distancing or masking requirements are in place. Covid-19 vaccines have been available for children age 5 and under since earlier this summer, and are still available at various sites. 

To find a Covid-19 vaccination site or to schedule an appointment for a parent or child, visit

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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