CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C — Catawba County school district is putting a big focus on students becoming fluent in Spanish. 

What You Need To Know

  • Catawba County Schools has three Spanish Dual Language Immersion elementary schools 

  • Starting in kindergarten students are taught in Spanish, the schools are public for the children in the district and transfers from out of county pay tuition

  • Sherrill's Ford Elementary School Principal Lathan Fowler says it amazes him every year to see the students become fluent in Spanish

  • Fifth grader Robert Reese has been learning Spanish since first grade and is fluent which he says is really cool 

The district has three dual Spanish immersion schools where children are taught in Spanish from kindergarten through fifth grade. 

Lathan Fowler, principal of Sherrill’s Ford Elementary, says it amazes him every year to see his students become fluent in Spanish. 

“It’s been an awesome experience. This is our fifth year doing this, so we’ve been able to see kids who started in kindergarten or first grade originally not being able to say ‘hola’ to now they are reading, they are writing, speaking, even together in Spanish,” Fowler said. 

The teachers are all from different countries, including Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela. They are not only teaching the students in Spanish; they are also teaching their country’s culture, history and traditions. 

Fifth grader Robert Reese has been in the program since first grade. He says he enjoys learning about different countries from his teachers. He says being able to speak Spanish is like a secret code. 

“It's kinda fun because I can talk to my dad in Spanish and not all my siblings understand me,” Reese said. 

Studies have also shown that students who are bilingual have higher cognitive function. 

Reese’s mother, Jennifer Reese, says since being in the program her son’s reading levels have increased and his testing scores are higher. 

“I know that it will give him more opportunities for different jobs and careers, and it will open up doors that wouldn’t be open to him otherwise if he didn’t have the ability to communicate with as many people as he’ll be able to,” Reese said. 

The three elementary schools for Catawba County students are public. They accept transfers from out of county, tuition is currently $1,500. They currently have a wait list.