Six families. Six toddlers. Two parents who understood that the “window of opportunity” for language learning was open!
Back in 2003, CommuniKids language immersion school got its start thanks to these three things. Founders Jeannine Piacenza and Raúl Echevarría, along with a few other like-minded families founded Caterpillar Cooperative Preschool, a small program that met three times a week. Coincidentally, most of the families were speaking another language at home to their children and wanted to support the development of their multilingual children. Within two years, the group grew to an organized immersion program with paid professional teachers and a full Spanish-immersion curriculum.
Astounded at how fast their own children picked up the language, Jeannine and Raúl founded CommuniKids in 2005, offering weekly classes in Spanish – with Raúl taking care of the teaching and Jeannine managing the administration.
In 2007, CommuniKids expanded to Falls Church and added languages in both locations: Mandarin, French, and Arabic. Recognizing that extended time immersed in another language translated to better fluency results, Jeannine and Raúl decided to establish two full-time preschool programs – one in DC and one in Falls Church – in 2009. With 20 students enrolled in DC and 25 in Falls Church, CommuniKids started small and quickly grew due to word of mouth.
From the beginning, the school founders were committed to a play-based, developmentally-appropriate approach to early childhood learning – so accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children was the next natural step for the school. In 2012, both schools received NAEYC accreditation, putting them in the company of only about 8% of preschools in the U.S.
In 2015, CommuniKids expanded down south to Richmond (or RVA, as we affectionately call it) and it has quickly grown in enrollment according to the model of our original schools!
One of the best things about CommuniKids is our family feel. Several of our current preschool teachers have been a part of our company since we started in 2005. Some of our teachers were caregivers for the original Caterpillar Cooperative kids. Some are parents whose own children attended CommuniKids. And some started volunteering with us in high school and are now lead teachers!
As for the original CommuniKids in the picture above? They are all headed into high school this year, and all still fully bilingual or trilingual!