STORM LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) – As the Hispanic population continues to grow in Iowa, one Siouxland school district is working to meet the demand.
At Storm Lake Elementary School, students in the dual language program are taught in both English and Spanish each day.
“The biggest benefit that I have seen so far is the true inclusion that it’s promoting within the community. We’ve always prided ourselves on being a community that is very welcoming and very tolerant. I think this is one way that we’re really showing families that we truly value the strengths that our families bring to the table,” said Dr. Stacey Cole, superintendent of Pre-K-12 of Storm Lake.
She said 50% of students in the district are native Spanish speakers.
“We get to speak two languages. It’s cool because we can choose one that we want to speak for the day,” said students in the program.
There are two classrooms with 50 kindergarteners currently enrolled in the program.
“Looking forward to seeing the kids that are going to be able to speak three languages down the road. The whole plan is to grow this program by one year and by the time these kids are seniors in high school, I mean, we’ll have kids that are trilingual and I think that’s just mind-blowing,” said kindergarten teacher Brian Gomez.
Teachers add this program and the growth seen in the students could be put to use in their futures.
“What are they going to do when they go to college. What careers are they doing to get into. Are they going to be doctors that are bilingual, lawyers, engineers, teachers,” said kindergarten teacher Amy Jesse.
Dr. Cole said one of the only challenges to kickstarting the program has been limiting class sizes because of the pandemic, but she said, regardless, kindergartners are making significant progress.