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Waddell principal, language program architect to retire this year

The principal of Waddell Language Academy and one of the primary architects of language immersion programs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is retiring this year.

Ynez Olshausen came to Charlotte in 1995 after more than a decade leading U.S. Department of Defense schools in Germany. She took over the school district’s fledgling German immersion program, then located at Bruns Avenue Elementary.

The German program was the first CMS language immersion school and was quickly followed by immersions in French, Spanish and Japanese. Immersion programs help students become fluent quickly by teaching them in a combination of the foreign language and English.

Olshausen shifted to lead the Smith Academy of International Languages when the programs were moved there in 2002 and added an immersion in Chinese.

She became principal of the new Waddell Language Academy in 2011, when the language programs moved there amid school closings.

Olshausen will leave behind a language immersion system that has become well-regarded across North Carolina and the country. She also said her school, a magnet, can only accept half of the students who apply.

“The demand is just enormous,” she said.

Olshausen, 65, said she hopes to move into language program consulting after she retires at the end of the school year.

“I’m really very passionate about the opportunity this offers for everybody’s kids,” she said. “It shouldn’t be just a private school opportunity.”

CMS has started the process of finding a successor by holding meetings with parents. The new Waddell principal could be the product of a national search.

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