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Choose Language Immersion in D49

Learning letters in kindergarten in Spanish.

The first of its kind in District 49, Stetson Elementary School is home to a language immersion program—Operation World Language (OWL), that brings extensive Spanish instruction to classrooms. In the program, students maintain their first language, while adding a second to their skillset. Educators teach 80 percent of the academic content in Spanish, and just 20 percent in English, primarily language arts.

“We chose the OWL Program at Stetson for our son, Cameron, because we love the idea of him being able to read, write and speak in two languages,” said Parent Emily Kennedy. “In addition, we want Cameron to have a better understanding and acceptance of cultures different from his own.”

Currently Stetson offers the language immersion option for kindergartners like Cameron, and first graders, with plans to add a grade-level each year.

“Within a few short months, Cameron understands that letters in Spanish make different sounds than letters in English. He is able to sound out a word, based on the language he is reading,” Kennedy added.

Practicing writing words in Spanish in kindergarten.

Each Operation World Language classroom includes a mix of student backgrounds. Research shows that bringing together students from predominantly English-speaking homes and learners from households where the primary language is Spanish can enhance learning for everyone.

“With passionate teachers and staff like Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Crawford, combined with a young child’s natural ability to learn languages, now is the time to give your student this life altering experience and education. Cameron loves that he learns something new every day,” said Kennedy.

Families interested in learning more about the program and how to enroll a student for the 2024-25 school year are invited to read more at

This story was originally part of a series creating awareness for National School Choice Week.


Amy Matisek