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The biggest fundraiser of the year is coming quickly!! Please join in the fun by volunteering to help with this fundraiser! Go to the events section of this website for more details.

Friday, November 5, 2021
Virtual Event starting at 7:00 pm

Dental Clinic

Sioux Empire Smiles, a free one-day children's dental clinic, will be available to uninsured children through 18 years of age on Saturday, October 2. The first 150 children will be seen.

PASI would like to welcome the new teachers to the immersion program for the 2021-22 school year!

2021-22 New Teachers
Carousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageSra Evelyn HernandezCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel image

PASI would like to welcome the 5 new Spanish Immersion interns for the 2021-22 school year

Lorwis Raul Medrano Silgado
Cartagena, Columbia
Edison Middle School

Ana Quinero Restrepo

(Maria) Camila Morales Travino

Elkin Estiv Patino Valderrama

Cindy Gonzalez Vasquez

Thank you to all the host families who have graciously welcomed a Spanish intern for this school year and years past!

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Presenting the Spanish Immersion teachers for 2021-22 school year from all 5 Immersion schools!

SFSD K-12 Spanish Immersion learning community. Five schools, One Team!

Lincoln HS, Edison MS, Hayward Elementary, Rosa Parks Elementary, & Sonia Sotomayor Elementary!

by: Mike Simundson (Keloland news)

Posted: Sep 23, 2021 / 06:20 PM CDT / Updated: Sep 24, 2021 / 01:40 PM CDT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Teachers and interns at Sonia Sotomayor Elementary come from all over the world.

Inside the classrooms at Sonia Sotomayor Elementary School, you’ll find staff members from around the world, including first grade teacher Yubeth Medina.

“I’m from Colombia,” Medina, a first grade teacher, said.

Second grade teacher Lissette Gutierrez is from El Salvador.

In their classrooms, and every classroom at the immersion school, only Spanish is spoken.

“So they try to communicate with me in Spanish. So they try. And they try hard. And that is something I really love because when they are trying to speak in Spanish, they are learning more,” Gutierrez said.

But learning Spanish every day isn’t just about the language, it’s about the culture too.

“Because you get to know Spanish, of course, but how Spanish is in Spain, how Spanish is in Colombia, how Spanish is in El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Chile, I mean, everywhere. So, they get the possibility to know, of course the language, but the culture. How we’re different, but we’re the same because we live in the same world and we speak the same language,” Medina said.

Students get to learn what makes each of their teachers’ home countries unique.

“I play music and I play a video where some Salvadorians are dancing with beautiful dresses and they like to, you know, to try and try to imitate that dance. So that’s something I really love to do everyday,” Gutierrez said.

“Sometimes I just like play some music and they get to watch the videos and they’re like, ‘wow what’s that, why are the houses so close to each other,’ for example, or ‘why do you have those very tall buildings.’ I live in a capitol city so it’s kind of huge. And, ‘what is that little bus,’ and I’m like that is the public transportation, I take the bus, and they’re like, ‘oh my gosh,'” Medina said.

Teachers sharing their stories, language and culture each and every day.

LOCAL NEWS (Keloland)

by: Mitch Klein

Posted: Aug 3, 2021 / 06:12 PM CDT / Updated: Aug 3, 2021 / 06:12 PM CDT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Students sitting in a classroom often wish they could be outside, especially on nice days like today.

Their wish will come true this fall at Sonya Sotomayor Elementary in Sioux Falls. Nick Lease is the landscaper who designed and built this new outdoor classroom. He’s also a parent.

“My daughters were super excited and so I think that’s going to translate into children being excited to be outside. We’re going to plant a pollinator habitat over there so they can learn about butterflies and things like that,” said landscaper and parent Nick Lease.

The project was built with donated materials — parents raised the rest of the money. Teachers will also be able to roll out an 85 inch interactive board to help with their lessons.

Thank you Pebble Beach Landscaping!

Sioux Falls School District celebrates 150 years

June 14, 2021

PASI is proud to sponsor a tree in celebration of this special anniversary.

April 1, 2021
PASI is thrilled to award over $8,000 in individual teacher grants to our Immersion teachers this year. Additionally, PASI has committed $10,000 over the next five years to add Spanish language books to the libraries at Hayward and Rosa Parks Elementary Schools, enhancing the new Dual Immersion program housed in those schools.

PASI books!

To read more about the individual grants awarded to Immersion teachers this year, please click this link:

The Sioux Falls School District's first class of Spanish Immersion students will graduate this spring, and parents and students are praising the program's success.

The district's school board heard report from school officials at Monday night's meeting about how the program, which opened in one elementary school in 2008, has gone for the last 13 years. And that included first-hand accounts from those about to cross the stage.

From its inception in 2008, the program’s first kindergarten class included 25 students at Rosa Parks Elementary School. Now, those students are graduating from high school, and the district boasts five schools and more than 1,100 students in the program.

Elizabeth Jerstad, a high school senior, said she organized a group of high school students to help peer mentor some of the youngest students in the program during the COVID-19 pandemic this year. She’s excited to see where the program will go in the future, and encourages more parents to put their students in the immersion program, she said.

Grant Graber, a high school senior and student in the immersion program, said his time in the Spanish Immersion program will help him with his future career as a nurse.

Shannon Graber, a leading parent in the pioneer group of Spanish Immersion students and parents, said she was grateful the district made the “bold choice” in 2008 to start the program.

“You gave our children the gift of bilingualism, something many of us parents could not have done,” Graber said.

There are three ways students can partake in Spanish Immersion in the district: two-way immersion, the Spanish Heritage Program and Spanish language immersion, said Kirk Zeeck, the district’s director of federal programs and world language.

Spanish language immersion takes place at Sonia Sotomayor Elementary School and allows students whose first language is English to become bilingual and bi-literate in Spanish. Students can continue Spanish immersion at Edison Middle School and Lincoln High School.

Two-way immersion teaches bilingualism and bi-literacy in both Spanish and English for Spanish-speaking and English-speaking children. Balanced numbers of native speakers learn together to read, write, speak and listen in both languages. This program is at both Rosa Parks and Hayward elementary schools.

The Spanish Heritage Language Program supports native Spanish-speaking students who have some proficiency in, or a cultural connection to, the Spanish language through community, family or country of origin. This program is at Edison Middle School and all four high schools, including the new Jefferson High School.

The district employs Spanish-speaking teachers and interns from the U.S. as well as Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela.

More than a dozen interns from multiple countries work with teachers to help students learn proper dialects. The interns have education backgrounds and are vetted by Amity International and the district’s human resources department.

Annual expenses to host each intern is approximately $5,000, Zeeck said, and their stay is made possible through funding from the Parent Advocates for Spanish Immersion (PASI) organization.

First class of Spanish immersion students set to graduate this spring


by: Max Hofer

Posted: Mar 26, 2021 / 06:59 AM CDT / Updated: Mar 26, 2021 / 07:03 AM CDT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Elizabeth Dumansky was one of the first students involved in the Sioux Falls School District’s Spanish Immersion program since kindergarten.

“So, I’ve had a second family for that long,” Dumansky said.

Today, she’s a senior at Lincoln High School and still very much involved.

“Knowing that I have two languages under my belt, I feel like life is more enjoyable, I can get to know more people which is something that is very important to me,” Dumansky said.

While graduation is right around the corner, she and her fellow students are working on their senior capstone projects with the help of their teacher Kim Tollinger.

“It’s just been fun to see how these kids have taken their interests and turned it into something that’s really meaningful or helpful to the community,” Tollinger said.

Dumansky has created a pen-pal program; She’s connecting 6th grade, Spanish immersion students, from Sioux Falls with native speakers in Spain and get to ask them questions.

“It’s interesting to see that they are passionate about getting a response from other students in Spain. They want to know the answers to these questions,” Dumansky said.

There are 130 students in Sioux Falls writing letters. They are a mix of the entire 6th-grade class at Edison Middle School and a few from Lincoln. Dumansky says fostering these connections will help the students learn more about the culture.

“It’s just so real that that whole aspect of culture how it’s changing, how we have lots of things in common but how we also have things that are different,” Tollinger said.

“By the end of the year, I hope to have each student be able to say they’ve established a relationship that’s worth remembering,” Dumansky said.

Dumansky says that she hopes to have two letters exchanged between each student every month.
You can learn about the program at the Sioux Falls School District’s website.

by: Max Hofer

Posted: May 2, 2019 / 07:09 AM CDT / Updated: May 3, 2019 / 06:22 PM CDT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With the new dual immersion program coming to certain schools, the Sioux Falls School District is looking to help broaden the minds of young students.

Rosa Parks Elementary and Hayward Elementary are the two schools that were chosen for the first dual immersion program in Sioux Falls.

“It started out as a program to address the needs of English learners and as there’s been more attention paid to the benefits of being multilingual – being bilingual, people have gravitated to it as an opportunity just to learn a second language,” Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs for the Sioux Falls School Distrcit Ann Smith said.

There are plenty of benefits for students who learn two languages at a young age.

“There’s some really interesting brain research that’s out there that just shows how becoming bilingual actually makes your brain more flexible, makes a person more open to new experiences,” Smith said.

Not only broadening their minds but also their understanding of other cultures and languages, each subject will be taught in both Spanish and English.

“The great thing about the proposed program for this is that they would get literacy in both English and in Spanish. So they would get opportunities to acquire both English and Spanish in… in Math, as well as Social Studies, Science, all of those different areas,” 2nd Grade Teacher at Sonia Sotomayor Spanish Immersion School Bobbi Greenfield said.

The program is 50-50: meaning students that speak English fluently will spend half of their day learning Spanish and the students that speak Spanish fluently will spend half of their day learning English.

They plan to launch the program exclusively for Kindergarten, then add it to the next higher grade with each passing year.

“I’ve worked with this program for six years and, you know, when kids study another language their ability to problem solve, their ability to think outside of the box is just greatly increased. They just think kind of differently than kids in a monolingual program,” Smith said.

Even though the focus of the program is to broaden their education, the end result might just bring them closer together.

“Any time you can bring students together and share their language, you know, not all of the English-speaking students are going to know Spanish and the Spanish speaking students may not know English as well. So it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to learn,” Director of Human Resources for the Sioux Falls School District Becky Dorman said.

This is only one of the new initiatives happening with Sioux Falls schools as a part of the 2020 budget.

Archived News



Learn about the Sioux Falls Spanish Immersion programs


PASI Newsletters

August 2021

March 2021

Sonia Sotomayor Newsletters

September 2021