Desert Willow Elementary celebrates Spanish Immersion Program

Cactus Shadows High School students share their experiences on being in the Spanish Immersion Program since first grade. (Submitted photo)

As part of its 15th birthday celebrations, the pre-kindergarten through sixth grade Spanish Immersion Program at Desert Willow Elementary School hosted an open visitation day for the Arizona Dual Language/Immersion Network.

As the “longest-running one-way” Spanish Immersion program in the state, 25 educators with new and veteran programs recently toured classrooms and talked to the students, according to a press release.

Participants included representative, Heather Carter and Tammy Waller, director of Native and World Languages and Social Studies from the Arizona Department of Education.

Twelfth graders returned to the school to share their experiences of participating in the Spanish Immersion since first grade, the release said. They shared, in both languages, their post-high school plans and whether Spanish would be included.

Principal Dr. Rod Egan, who reflected on the importance of visitation days, said in a prepared statement, “We can all say that our program creates bilingual students but seeing it in action takes it to a whole, new level!”

According to the release, the Spanish Immersion Program at Desert Willow School shows that students can “reach high levels” of Spanish proficiency by spending 50 percent of their instructional day learning academic content in Spanish with a Spanish speaking teacher.

Then, students move to the partner English-side classroom and English teacher for the other 50 percent and remainder of the day.

The long-term result for dual language immersion programs include higher test scores than non-immersion peers and high levels of Spanish proficiency during a time when the brain is still primed for language learning, the release noted.

For more information on the Spanish, Chinese and French Immersion Programs at Cave Creek Unified School District, contact Cristina Ladas, World Language programs coordinator at or call 480-575-2019.

Twenty-five educators tour classrooms and talk to students for the open visitation day. (Submitted photo)

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