While our primary focus is Spanish, Chicelacu! is pleased to announce that in 2014 services will expand to include French and Chinese (Mandarin).
ChiCeLaCu! guarantees excellence in terms of its teachers, curriculum and resources. We offer direct personal services in the field of education to individuals, organizations, schools, non-profit organizations, and international agencies operating in the United States and Latin America.
ChiCeLaCu! is committed to helping children grow academically by acquiring verbal and written proficiency in Spanish; and emotionally by building self- esteem and greater control of their emotions through the program’s creative outlets. We strive to create an environment that fosters respect and acceptance of cultural diversity, individual differences and the Latin American cultural heritage.
ChiCeLaCu! works to strengthen students’ sense of identity and pride through Spanish immersion and exposure to the Hispanic culture. We foster in our students an appreciation and understanding of the Hispanic culture, the Spanish language and the overall diversity and differences that make ours a rich society.
ChiCeLaCu! was founded by Maureen Santamaria in 2007 and is the only center in the area providing complete immersion services in Spanish. Mrs. Santamaria is driven by a desire to create a safe and dynamic environment where both children of Hispanic and non-Hispanic origins can learn Spanish, share their cultures and develop a healthy sense of identity and acceptance and appreciation for cultural and racial diversity.
ChiCeLaCu! welcomes native Spanish speakers, those with basic knowledge and exposure to the language as well as non-Spanish speakers. Here you can count on a personalized experience and a plethora of diversified materials in Spanish, including audiovisuals, books, games as well as theater, art and music resources. Our teachers all share a passion for teaching Spanish and their Hispanic heritage.
ChiCeLaCu! guarantees that its financial resources are invested in building and acquiring only the finest educational materials, resources, and educators. While our main focus has been Spanish, the center will expand its services to include other languages to those students who demonstrate fluency in Spanish.
Learning another language is a slow process that takes time and dedication and as such, the results are seen over an extended period of time. Since ChiCeLaCu!’s inception, we have had many children graduate from our program. The class of 2010 was ChiCeLaCu!’s first graduating class, with students completing 3 consecutive years in the program. They achieved notable progress reading, writing and speaking Spanish.
Why choose us?
Curriculum and Students
We offer specialized Spanish educational services utilizing total immersion for children ages 3 through 12 years of age. Students learn listening, speaking, reading, writing and comprehension skills through games, music, puppetry, dance and theater. Our language arts component includes spelling, oral expression, handwriting, reading and writing. We strive to make a cultural connection by fusing the language and the performing arts.
ChiCeLaCu! offers services for children whose native language is Spanish, for those with a reasonable knowledge or exposure to Spanish as well as non-Spanish speakers who are interested in learning the language. ChiCeLaCu! is a friendly, welcoming center for children to come and learn about the Hispanic culture and the Spanish language in a fun and informal atmosphere.
Educational Strategies & Curriculum
Our curriculum came to fruition after a long research and review process of existing educational models in Latin America. At ChiCeLaCu! we offer a complete curriculum for Pre-K to 6th grade based on UNESCO-funded educational initiatives implemented in Latin America by the public education sector. Specifically, our curriculum is heavily influenced by the official elementary school curriculum from Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Peru. In addition, we compiled and incorporated into our curriculum aspects of the lessons learned from the Nicaraguan National Literacy Campaign.
Our small group sizes of no more than ten students per classroom allow our teachers to offer individualized attention that caters to each student’s level and learning needs. To monitor and showcase their progress, we hold quarterly evaluations, parent/teacher conferences, and two performances per year.
Parents are an integral part of the ChiCeLaCu! family as we work closely with them in various capacities to maximize the benefits of their children’s educational experience. The program follows the school academic calendar (September through June) and each year, based on the experience of the past year, teachers evaluate, revise and update their curriculum. There is rigorous attention to yearly, monthly, and daily lesson plans.
We are also in the process of developing our own educational materials and resources, including interactive posters, theater scripts, educational games, beginner reading books, and a grammatical guide. Also in development is an “online classroom” intended to support classroom learning and individuals who choose the homeschooling option.
ChiCeLaCu!’s cadre of native Spanish-speaking teachers are active in or retired from the Fairfax County Public School System and individually possess from 15 to 25 years of classroom experience in schools, colleges and Universities in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Cuba. At a minimum, each teacher has a Bachelor’s Degree in one of the following: Education, Early Childhood Education, Special Education, Music Education, Dance and Physical Education. All of our staff is required to complete a background check for the Child Protective Service Registry, receive CPR /First Aid training and a TB test every two years.
For more information on our staff, click here
To achieve ChiCeLaCu!’s academic objectives, children must be in an appropriate learning environment. To this end, our centers are designed to be aesthetically and physically in line with our educational philosophy and offer a simple, organized yet attractive and inviting place to play and learn. We take pride in our warm, bright, spacious classrooms and common areas that include color, language, plants, art, music, manipulatives, toys and books… many, many books! Our centers are equipped with size and age appropriate tables and chairs, open areas for floor-time activities, and shelves filled with materials appropriate for the different developmental focus areas.
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