The demand for dual language education continues to grow in East Dallas, causing Spanish House school to seek its second expansion in five years. The school has purchased 1.5-acre of land at 7157 E. Grand Ave in the Hollywood Heights neighborhood, where officials plan to build a 15-classroom elementary school to be completed by August 2016.

Currently, the school has 65 elementary students, but that’s expected to grow to 200 by the time the new site reaches capacity, says Catherine Wallace, who founded the school with her husband, Luis Martinez.

The new campus will be financed entirely from private funds raised by the school, Wallace adds. The East Grand Avenue site appraised for $435,750 in 2015 according to county tax records, up from $335,2000 in 2014.

Wallace said the school will maintain its two existing campuses, housing the nursery school at its original location on Prospect Avenue, while the preschool will stay at its current site on Skillman Street. All elementary school education will be consolidated at the new site in the 2016-17 school year.

What began as a private Spanish language school for 20 nursery-aged children in 2010, will become a thriving community of hundreds of students spread across three campuses offering nursery, preschool, elementary and adult education by 2016.

The added space became a necessity when the school had to turn away families because it is at full capacity, Wallace says. “Especially the little ones,” she says, referring to nursery school students. “We have the biggest demand for that program.”

She says since the school opened, the number of families interested in their program has grown year after year, especially among English-speaking families. “We have almost all English-speaking families that see a value in learning a second language,” Wallace says. “We’re like the opposite of what the [Dallas Independent School] District sees.”

The school begins by teaching the students 100 percent in Spanish at the nursery school level, and slowly integrates English education until the students are learning half in English and half in Spanish by fourth grade.

“It’s amazing to see these kids who are 1 and 2 and their first word is in Spanish even though their parents speak English,” Wallace beams.

She says yet another expansion is coming, to meet the growing demand for adult education classes.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.