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Higley’s San Tan Elementary School looks to offer Spanish Immersion

Higley’s San Tan Elementary School looks to offer Spanish Immersion
The 2016-17 school year could bring about a new language immersion program in the Higley Unified School District as San Tan Elementary School looks to add a Spanish option.

San Tan Principal Ray Mercado hopes to bring his former experience as principal of a Spanish Immersion school to his new campus in Gilbert.

“I was a principal for four years at an elementary school that had a Spanish Immersion program. I was able to lead the Spanish Immersion program and provide support to improve instructional practices for all involved,” he said.

Currently, Coronado Elementary School in the Higley district offers Mandarin Immersion for students in kindergarten through second grade. More than 100 students spend half their day with a teacher speaking Mandarin and the other half with a teacher speaking English.

The format will be similar at San Tan Elementary School. Mr. Mercado started informational session in November for families who may choose this option for their kindergarten or first-grade students next school year. The response has been positive, with several interested families already, he said. Meetings are held 9 a.m. Thursdays at San Tan Elementary, 3443 E. Calistoga Drive, Gilbert. They will continue through March 3, 2016.

“It is important for children to learn a second language early in their education because research shows that bilingualism supports higher academic achievement, greater self-efficacy, increased linguistic awareness, higher scores on SAT and ACT, and improved cognitive development and problem solving abilities,” Mr. Mercado said.

With the growing use of Spanish in the business world, especially in the Southwest, speaking the language could also give future employees a step above the competition in opportunities.

“If your child can speak Spanish fluently, he or she will be more marketable in the future. According to, bilingual pay differentials range between 5 percent and 20 percent per hour more than the position’s base rate,” Mr. Mercado said.
San Tan Elementary School is a “Leader in Me School,” where students daily learn “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Students in the Spanish Immersion Program will also take part in those lessons, such as what it means to "put first things first" or to "be proactive." Learn more about the Leader in Me School in a video posted on the district’s Vimeo site.

Families interested in the Spanish Immersion program who live outside the San Tan Elementary School boundaries will need to complete an open enrollment application. Applications can be turned in now, with priority given to families that submit them by Feb. 1.

To RSVP for the next Spanish Immersion informational session, please call (480) 279.7200.