I moved from Chicago to St. Louis in 2007, with a 3 year old and a baby. My son had attended a Spanish immersion preschool, and I thought I'd never find similar options in St. Louis. I was lucky enough to soon meet Rhonda Broussard, Executive Director/Founder of SLLIS, and hear about her dream to open elementary language schools here. Only 2 years later the dream was a reality. My two children now attend the Spanish School. They have not only had the chance to develop fluency in another language, but work alongside students who come from many different linguistic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds: something we as a family treasure. As a professor of education, I have been impressed with the schools' drive for continual improvement, creativity, and dedication to inquiry-based learning. They are moving against a strong tide of accountability, testing, (and more testing), and their moves are impressive.
My husband and I made the decision to choose SLLIS over the AAA, blue ribbon awarded school system up the street from our house. This was a risky decision to make, and every day that my child smiles going to school provides us the reward for making the best decision for our child. Visiting and sitting in at the Chinese School, I was impressed that our English speaking children were communicating in Chinese. They were all very eager to learn and were proud of their ability to speak a second language.
I am thankful for the Title 1 teacher, who continues to test the children for their English learning. This support allows us to focus the needed English learning at home. The support in both their English and Chinese learnings will provide the foundation for an incredible future.
The vision of the founder, Rhonda Broussard, is grand. I am really exicted to see my child flourish and to be a part of this vision.
We chose SLLIS for our son's education for two reasons. First, we wanted him to be fully bilingual - not just able to understand his French father, but entirely fluent and academically literate in his second language. Additionally, we want him to have the wider range of university options - in the US and abroad - that become possible with an international baccalaureat diploma.
We feel lucky that such an exceptional school is available to us tuition-free in an otherwise struggling district. Beyond our family, we are also extrermely proud that this resource exists and is growing global citizens in St. Louis, Missouri.
I grew up with a Spanish mother and siblings. Being the youngest I was not taught Spanish nor was it spoken in the house as my sibling got older and my mother was living and working in an American world. I tried to learn Spanish but no matter what I did it just would not take. I went to very expensive schools with "good" teachers and curriculum.
Nothing worked. All through my life I wondered what it would be like to be able to speak my families first language.
As a parent I realized that sending my kids to that same environment and schooling they may miss that same opportunity. I found the Saint Louis Language Immersion School by chance. And ever since it has been both an exciting experience and a scary one. You wonder can they really learn and be thoughtful and educated people when learning a language that is not the primary language spoken at home.
That question has been answered. My children are all the above and they are learning to be world citizens. Meeting people of all backgrounds, races and religions.
This school had changed the projectors for our children to be be ones who look at differences as a positive and challenges as an opportunities.
We need more schools like this and more funding.
When I see my mother and son to speaking in Spanish, I swell up with pride and a bit of regret that I didn't have this opportunity.
My husband and I chose to send our daughters to St. Louis Language Immersion School's Spanish school 3 years ago. Even though we have excellent public schools in our area, we believed that the benefits our children would receive from a bilingual learning experience was well worth the disadvantages of leaving our neighborhood schools. We are thrilled with the progress our girls have made and the community of SLLIS that has become our home.
Just last night, during dinner, my oldest daughter, Clara, said "Kate and I are going to speak only in Spanish and you and dad need to see if you can understand us. It's okay if you need to speak English, Mom." They spent the entire dinner telling us about their day, asking questions, sharing jokes - all in Spanish! Clara is 9 and Kate is 7.
We hope that being truly bilingual will make them more adventurous, global citizens. I can't wait to see what they become and where they go in life. I have SLLIS, Rhonda, and the entire staff to thank for this wonderful gift they have given my family.
- Megan Bittle
SLLIS Spanish School Parent
We are so lucky to have the SLLIS network of charter schools in St. Louis City! SLLIS is an amazing educational opportunity for our children - combining the cognitive benefits of language immersion with the highly sought after International Baccalaureate curriculum will help our kids get the best education possible. And, it's free! We're so thankful and proud to be a SLLIS family!