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Canyon Springs to offer free Spanish classes for all students


Elizabeth Medora

ANTHEM – Starting next school year, students at Canyon Springs School will have the opportunity to learn Spanish with free classes for kindergarten through eighth grade.

Canyon Springs is the first school in the Deer Valley Unified School District to offer Spanish classes to all students in the school. The school’s PTSA is helping to fund the Spanish language program.

Canyon Springs has a motto of preparing learners to succeed in a global society. The new Spanish language program joins the Renaissance Gifted and STEM Academy programs offered at the school. All of the programs give students resources for sought-after career fields and provide global life skills.

Principal Tricia V. Graham shared the reasoning behind offering the Spanish language program.  

“The teachers and administrators in the Boulder Creek Region of DVUSD schools pride ourselves in offering innovative programs for learners and families seeking global and unique educational opportunities,” Graham noted. She also offered a personal perspective as a parent with two elementary school-aged children.  

“I am not only an educator, but a parent as well,” Graham said. “When we make educational decisions at Canyon Springs STEM Academy, I always ask myself, “Is this best for kids and would I want this for my own children?” If the answer is “Yes,” then it is something I will work hard to implement.”

Full-time teacher Andrea Schwartz has been hired for the Spanish program. Many of the rest of the Canyon Springs staff members will be participating in the program, too. 

“Many of our teachers (including me) are interested in learning Spanish, as well,” commented Graham.  “We are excited to include an online component for our students to practice, learn, and engage with their families at home.”

Spanish classes will be offered to all K-6 students. These classes will be added to the specials rotation schedule. Classes will be offered as an elective for grades 7-8.

“Our seventh and eighth grade students will be taught Spanish 1 every day for a full year,” Graham said. “Our goal is to offer Spanish II for 8th graders in during the 2016/17 school year in order for students to test out of Spanish 1-2 and qualify to take Spanish 3-4 as freshmen at Boulder Creek.”

Many research studies have shown that students who learn a second language perform better in multiple academic areas, thanks to increased problem-solving skills. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages cites over 30 studies, going back decades, that link cognitive development, memory skills, verbal and spatial skills, and problem-solving ability with learning a second language at a young age. A policy brief from the National Education Association states that, “The ability to understand, read, write, and speak in more than one language enhances cross-cultural communication skills.” The NEA brief also reports that, “Global competence enhances overall academic achievement. Students acquire global competence through the study of a second language, which is also linked with enhanced cognitive development, higher-order thinking, and creativity.”

Graham, who has worked as a teacher and as a principal throughout her career, offered perspective on the benefits of learning a second language.

“I think it opens doors to our students for future job and career opportunities,” Graham said. “I also look forward to the cultural learning component we will offer. When our students learn about other Latin and Spanish cultures around the world, we spark curiosity, understanding, and acceptance of others. I recently read an article about second language acquisition. A quote from that resonated with me, ‘It expands your worldview, so that you not only know more, you know differently.’”

Parents interested in enrolling their child in Canyon Springs can see more about the school at The school is currently closed for the summer and will reopen on July 28. Enrollments for Canyon Springs will be accepted at Boulder Creek High School Monday-Thursday, July 7-22.