Ossining Union Free School District: Westchester Magazine’s Spanish School With a Waiting List

Ossining Union Free School District
A public school preK-8 dual-language program
There are many benefits to running a dual-language program for both native English and native Spanish speakers, says Mirla Puello, the district’s director of English and English as a Second Language. But in the end, the best reason might be the easiest to figure out: “Bilingual brains are faster,” she says, citing research that shows students who know more than one language perform better on other cognitive tests. 

In Ossining, students enter a lottery to be part of the 700-student preK-8 program, and parents have told Puello that they moved to the town specifically with the hopes of getting their children into the program. In grades 3 through 9, native Spanish speakers join the program whenever they arrive in the district, Puello adds. 

The program splits its instruction evenly between Spanish and English, but the learning doesn’t stop when the bell rings, she says. Because of the student mix, both languages are freely used during lunch and recess, and that type of learning helps students understand how to carry on an extended conversation.  

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