Small Biz: Mi Escuela Spanish Academy
Shortly after moving to the United States three years ago, Leticia Ortiz opened a business with her husband called Family Time. Family Time was an indoor playground for children designed to keep them from spending all of their time on electronic gadgets.
Due to the tough economy, Family Time closed in mid 2011.
Ortiz immediately decided to start another business venture and fulfill her dream of teaching Spanish to children.
Teaching has been a part of Ortiz’s life for years. She is attending Arizona State University to pursue a master’s degree in bilingual education, and when she lived in Mexico, Ortiz taught English to children.
Ortiz’s company, Mi Escuela Spanish Academy, is a school for 3- and 4-year-olds that teaches them the basics of Spanish by surrounding them with the language.
“In my experience, one hour a week is not enough to learn a language,” Ortiz says. “We are offering a full-immersion program three hours a day.”
Parents have the option to send their children two, three or five days a week and tuition corresponds to the number of days enrolled.
Ortiz teaches her students Spanish with interactive learning tools including: stories, games, circle time, and arts and crafts.
During the first few weeks of class, Ortiz uses English as a support for students who have never been around Spanish. After students develop a comfort level with the teachers and students, the classes are conducted entirely in Spanish.
Ortiz says she believes there are numerous benefits to teaching a child another language at a young age, and is working to educate parents.
“The big challenge is making people understand that giving their kids the opportunity to learn another language is not something bad or something they don’t need,” Ortiz says.
Bilingual children develop strong social skills and an appreciation of other cultures, and they are able to get better jobs as adults.
Ortiz said she plans to have 15 students in her class the first year, and has one assistant to help her teach the students. The school runs on the same calendar as the Gilbert school district.
If the business does well, Ortiz says she plans to open more facilities around the Valley.
“I’m not looking to open up one big school because if you open a school in one location, people from different places won’t be able to come,” Ortiz says. “I want to teach Spanish to everybody.”
Mi Escuela Spanish Academy
202 S. Gilbert Rd.
Mi Escuela Spanish Academy Facebook Page