Spanish Grove Academy recently invited me to take a tour of their dual language preschool and after-school care in north central San Antonio. It’s a well-rounded early childhood education program and worth a look for families who value instruction in both Spanish and English.
Owner Christina Martinez took us on a tour of the school as the summer program was wrapping up and they were preparing for the fall semester. My kids, F.T. and G.N., are in elementary school now, but they came with me on the tour and enjoyed play-testing the materials and centers.
The preschool program welcomes children as young as 18 months old. Expectant moms sometimes get on the waiting list before their children are born. The classes are grouped by age: 18-24 months, 2-3 years, and so on, up to 5 years old. There is no kindergarten program yet, but that is on the drawing board. The after-school care program starts at 5 years and goes up to 10 years. On the tour, I saw a mix of Anglo and Latino faces. The student-teacher ratio is 5-to-1 in the 18-24 month classroom and 7-to-1 in the 2-3 year classroom.
The school building is clean, modern, and compact. The entrance is secure, with a pair of locking glass doors, and the staff at the front desk check visitors’ photo IDs. Long hallways stretch to the right and the left, with classrooms along both sides. Just beyond the front desk, a computer lab also serves as a play room, with bins of Lego bricks and kinetic sand.
The computer lab connects to a library. It’s lovely, but imperfect—the books are on the shelves but slightly askew—in ways that tell you it is well loved and visited often. As you would expect at a bilingual school, there were materials in both English and Spanish.
At the end of the hallway is a multipurpose room with high ceilings, a rugged floor, and a garage door that opens to the outside. At the time of our visit, young children were riding tricycles around the room. The basketball hoop was set low, and F.T. made a few easy shots, to the amusement of the students. The room has been used for many other purposes: with the garage door rolled up, the room hosted a petting zoo; a white wall served as a movie screen for students during a parents’ night out; with a stage and decorations, it served as a venue for an awards ceremony.
With so many different places to play, the children stay busy and moving. Outside, there are two playgrounds, one for very young children and another for the bigger kids. The day of our visit, a hot summer day, student were enjoying a splash day with sprinklers on the playgrounds. The outdoor play areas have shade canopies and cushioned rubber floor surfaces.
The students wear uniforms at school. The school issues each student a canvas tote bag to stay organized and keep classrooms tidy. There is a kitchen on site; we saw students eating freshly made blueberry pancakes.
Taking a school tour is valuable because you can see what the children are doing on campus and look at the classroom decor. A lot of space on the walls is dedicated to the academic mission. Every room has a bulletin board for parents that sets out the curriculum, vocabulary, and materials for that month. The school chooses themes and sets goals, and the teachers work out ways to meet those goals. Words in English and Spanish are featured, and cultures of English- and Spanish-speaking countries are represented.
The classroom decoration also shows creativity and love. Clearly, there is a lot of preparation happening behind the scenes. For example, the whiteboards are set up with information for the students to absorb. The bigger kids have some classroom independence and access to materials like math manipulatives and vocabulary cards, but they benefit from a structured curriculum and formal instruction from well-trained teachers.
Spanish Grove Academy is located in north central San Antonio. More specifically, it’s at 22215 Wilderness Oak, San Antonio, TX 78260 (map)—north of Loop 1604 in the Stone Oak area. Some nearby landmarks are Panther Springs Park and Parman Library. Spanish Grove Academy is a private school; its closest public school neighbors are Wilderness Oak Elementary and Hardy Oak Elementary in North East ISD. Wilderness Oak is a busy street that connects subdivisions of single family homes. This area has limited access to public transportation.
The school day starts as early as 7:00 a.m., and most students are on campus by 8:00 a.m. The academic day ends at 2:30 p.m., but after care is available until 6:00 p.m. Families with more than one student enrolled, as well as children of active duty military, receive a 10 percent discount on tuition.
My play-testers, F.T. and G.N., had fun on the tour seeing the classrooms and playgrounds for younger kids. If you value dual-language education in Spanish and English and are looking for childcare in north central San Antonio, call Spanish Grove Academy at 210-390-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also go online to learn about the admissions process or set up a tour.