Innovation & Job News
Philadelphia’s first Spanish immersion preschool comes to Fairmount
Teacher and educational entrepreneur Melissa Page thinks Philly is “a little bit behind the curve,” linguistically speaking. Until now, our city did not have any Spanish-language immersion preschools. Page is changing that with the launch of Mi Casita this month, a new 4,600-square foot preschool at 1415 Fairmount Avenue.
When it comes to language acquisition, “the earlier you can get it the better,” she insists. “Early childhood education in a second language doesn’t exist in Philadelphia, and it’s so much harder to learn a second language the older you get.”
Page learned Spanish at age five and went on earn her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish as well as Master’s degrees in education and business; she has traveled widely in Mexico, Spain and Latin America. Page then worked for Telemundo before spending five years as a Spanish and French teacher at South Philadelphia’s Girard Academic Music Program High School.
Mi Casita’s staff — part of a 1:6 teacher/student ratio — are mostly native Spanish speakers and will offer an intensive all-Spanish curriculum (serving ages 18 months to five years) including play-led literacy, arts and math skills. The teachers will have ongoing career development through a partnership with the Waldorf School of Philadelphia.
“It’s more than just speaking Spanish every day,” explains Page. It’s about “developing students academically, emotionally [and] socially through a really rigorous curriculum.”
Promoting the social, cognitive and career benefits of early bilingual education are a big part of Page’s life mission, and she says the school’s inaugural winter 2015 session is already booked with about 30 families from all over Greater Philadelphia.
Cultural appreciation is part of what the school will offer, but it’s bigger than simply teaching Spanish. It’s about the value of having a second language from an early age, especially the one that is the most commonly spoken in the U.S. after English. And the school welcomes kids of all backgrounds.
“We are an amazing melting pot,” expains the founder, with everyone from Main Line families to students whose parents hail from countries in Asia and South America.
The school is opening with two classrooms this month; five classrooms are planned for a fall 2015 session.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Melissa Page, Mi Casita