25 Years Dual Language


Twenty-five years ago, the West Liberty Community School District started the first Dual Language Program in the state of Iowa.  This was a new, innovative plan in response to the growing needs of English Language Learners, and the desire to elevate the Spanish language and culture within the West Liberty Community School District.  Since then, the program has grown and developed to serve the students and families of the communities of West Liberty, Atalissa, and Nichols, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Students become bilingual, biliterate, and learn about the diversity of our community and world.  The dual language program is as strong as ever, and we are excited to be celebrating the twenty-fifth year of this amazing program in our district!


The West Liberty Community School District’s Dual Language Program began in the fall of 1997 when the district received a five-year 1.7 million dollar federal Title VII grant from the United States Department of Education. A team of teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, and community members spent a year studying various program models and engaging in teacher training. Community meetings and pre-registration for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten were held.

The first year of implementation was in the fall of 1998 at grades pre-kindergarten and kindergarten with two classroom sections at each grade level. From 1999-2002, additional grade levels were added as the oldest group advanced to the next grade. In June 2002, after completion of the five-year grant, the program was established through third grade. From July 2002 to the present, the district has continued to support the program extending through 12th grade.

In 2007, West Liberty began a partnership with the International Spanish Academy, a part of the Ministry of Education of Spain. The elementary, middle school, and high school all became International Spanish academies and were the first in Iowa.

International Spanish Academies

The International Spanish Academies (ISAs) are educational centers encompassing all grade levels from pre-K through 12, known for their academic prestige. These schools implement any of the programs using content and Language Integrated (CLIL) methodology in Spanish (immersion, dual, bilingual). These centers sign an agreement with the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. The program is part of the activities organized by the Spanish Education Office in the U.S. and Canada in collaboration with North American education authorities. ISA-networked schools have access to the following benefits:

  • Spanish highly qualified visiting teachers
  • Language and Culture Assistants
  • Continuing education summer courses in Spain for teachers/administrators
  • Pedagogical support
  • Partnering with Spanish schools
  • Resources

In 2011, 13 students graduated from the Dual Language Program and received diplomas from the International Spanish Academy. This was the first graduating class and an important milestone for West Liberty Community Schools and the Dual Language program. These students went through many changes and were a part of many “trials and errors”. The program continues to graduate students each year.