Spanish Schoolhouse: Then and Now

This year, we are celebrating 20 years of language, love, and learning at Spanish Schoolhouse. Anniversaries are a time to reflect on where we’ve been, and at SSH, we’ve been taking a walk down memory lane. We are so proud to have educated over 15,000 students! We reached out to some of our early students to see how language learning in early childhood has impacted them as they continue on to middle school, high school, and even college!

Meet Kara

Kara Curtis attended SSH Frisco from 2006-2008 and is now 17 years old. When she left SSH, she applied for a dual language program in her elementary school. She recalls testing to get into the program. “While I was counting in Spanish, I remember the teachers giving each other impressed looks over my head. I knew how to count to 100 better in Spanish than in English!”

Kara later decided to study abroad. She spent a summer in Panama, where she lived with a family that spoke only Spanish, attended a local high school, and did community service work, all in Spanish. Kara says that although it was not her first language, it “felt as familiar to me as a well-loved blanket.” She continues, “I owe the friends and memories I made there to SSH, for beginning a love of the Spanish language within me that would only grow as I began to make my own path through life.”

Kara is grateful for the opportunities SSH made available to her, but even more grateful for the people it brought into her life. She currently works as an assistant to the ESL teacher in her school as a translator and friend to the students in the class that speak only Spanish. Kara has found many unexpected ways to use her Spanish to help others. One example was on a recent ski vacation, where she was able to make a connection and help a woman who spoke only Spanish to understand the ski instructor and feel comfortable in their lessons.

As she gears up for college, Kara states, “I know that SSH will continue to have a huge impact on what I do next. Spanish Schoolhouse gave me the ability to experience a wider breadth of humanity, culture, and life. I was shaped by my SSH early education and speaking Spanish continues to lead to new experiences for me to explore.” We couldn’t be more proud!

Hola Avery!

Avery Franks was a Spanish Schoolhouse Coppell student from 2006 – 2009. She shared the following memories with us.

“Learning Spanish at such a young age allowed me to build a foundation in the language that has helped me catch on so much quicker even in high school Spanish. With a firm grasp on the basics and a brain trained to recognize Spanish words and phrases, my time at Spanish Schoolhouse allows me to feel confident and comfortable in school. I also think that I got a jumpstart on my capacity to absorb knowledge! Not only was I participating in normal preschool activities such as coloring, playing on the playground, and napping, I was also attempting to understand and speak another language. This challenged me to open my mind to learning in general and gave me a work ethic and love for school that I don’t think I would have had otherwise. Thank you Spanish Schoolhouse for giving me such an amazing preschool experience!”

Here’s a picture from Avery’s first day of Spanish Schoolhouse and another picture from this summer (age 15) when she went on a community service trip to Ecuador and also used her Spanish! Way to go, Avery!

 

The Kindiger Four

It’s obvious that the Kindiger family values language learning, culture, and global thinking. We heard from their four amazing children, all SSH alumni, about their SSH memories and their current adventures in language learning!

When asked about the teachers they most remembered, the Kindigers said, “Honestly, each teacher was amazing and effective for our growth. They clearly have a love for teaching and ensuring we walked out of their classroom smarter, more confident and with a greater respect for the language and lifestyle. The nurturing culture was critical in our development! And made our mom feel so much better leaving us in their care.”

Their favorite memory of SSH? Hands-down, the Annual Bike Parade!!

Each of the Kindiger kids left SSH to participate in their local Dual-Language program then continued taking Spanish classes through junior high and into high school. They have found limitless opportunities to use their Spanish. “We have helped to bridge the communication barrier between several workers and our parents,” says Clay. “The best use has been in baseball. Being a tall, very fair-skinned, blonde, blue-eyed player, most teams expect me to speak English. They do not expect me to also speak Spanish. It is fun to relay in English to my own team the plays and pitches that are called in Spanish by a Spanish-speaking coach!”

“Learning Spanish from a young age, in parallel with our first language, truly developed our brains more quickly and thoroughly. It also opened our minds to appreciate and celebrate other cultures. SSH certainly contributed to making us well-rounded students and global thinkers.”

Shane de La Selva

Shane Lacki attended Spanish Schoolhouse in Coppell from 2008-2010 in La Selva (3-year-old) and Argentina (4-year-old) classes. Shane’s mom remembers, “One of the first things Shane learned in his La Selva class and came home to share with me was, ¿Quién quiere ir afuera? He didn’t know how to translate the words but what he did know was it meant time for RECESS !!! – ¡A la línea, a la línea gris! – to the grey line! He was learning the language by being immersed in it.”

Shane’s Spanish has helped his family out more than once! “When Shane was 11 years old, we vacationed in Mexico and got lost in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula, lost in La Selva! We pulled off the road at a checkpoint and asked the policeman, ‘¿Habla ingles?’ When he said no, I turned to Shane in the backseat and said ‘Roll down your window!’ Shane then had a very animated conversation with the policeman … a man who smiled the entire time he conversed in Spanish with the blond-haired little boy.”

Although he’s just started high school, Shane is already affecting change through his language and his dedication to service. For two summers, Shane has traveled to Peru with his church mission to help the poor. His mom says, “What makes me most proud is watching Shane interact effortlessly with Peruvians in their language, even with the nuns and children at the orphanage. This summer, he worked side-by-side with Pedro, measuring and sawing wood to frame a house. I walked over to check on him and found the two of them hard at work while also sharing their languages, teaching each other construction terms in English and Spanish. Shane’s dad and I look forward to continuing to watch him grow in his love for Spanish speaking people and cultures.”

Shane and Pedro framing a house in Peru.
Shane at the orphanage in Peru.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glowing with Pride – Then and Now!

We couldn’t be more proud of ALL of our Spanish Schoolhouse graduates! Hearing stories like these and so many more only reinforces our mission to continue impacting young lives through language learning, creating globally minded citizens that will lead us into a bright future. Thank you to all of our families, near and far, who shared their stories and to all who helped us to bring our mission to life in such a vibrant and impactful way. Here’s to the next 20!

So, what do you think?