First dual-language school in Sarasota teaches students both English and Spanish

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 7:48 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Students at Dreamers Academy have a chance to learn both English and Spanish. It is something that’s now normal for students like Joseph Salguero-Mondragon.

“I like the place,” said Joseph.

At home, he speaks Spanish, but at Dreamers Academy, Joseph gets to learn how to write and read in English and Spanish.

The charter school, which opened this fall, is the first dual-language school in Sarasota County.

About 23% of Floridians speak Spanish at home.

“Students are going to have an advantage by being bilingual, not only are they going to have better job opportunities but they’re also going to have a more flexible brain that allows them to learn better,” said Geri Chaffee, Founder of Dreamers Academy.

“The model is 50/50, which one day we teach all content areas in English and another we teach all other content in Spanish,” said Cathy Rodriguez, the school’s principal, said.

Classes started this school year, with nearly 200 students from kindergarten to second grade.

“We want our students and families to feel comfortable in a place where we embrace who they are. We always say a child that is happy is a child that learns,” said Rodriguez.

School leaders say they’re doing all of this so students can be fully fluent in both languages.

“It has been proven that children do better and are working at higher levels. By the time they finish fifth grade, they’re six months ahead academically across all subjects,” said Chaffee.

Dreamers Academy is accepting applications for the next school year. School officials hope to eventually expand its classes to fifth grade.

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