Rockford Public Schools Spanish Immersion Program is a comprehensive program K-12. This Total Immersion program provides students with content and language learning throughout their K-12 experience.  Our students are immersed in Spanish from Kindergarten through 5th grade, followed by the maintenance of Spanish language skills 6th–12th grade.

RPS is a Total Immersion Program:

Spanish Immersion at Rockford Public Schools is a full immersion program -100% Spanish.  As students advance through the Spanish Immersion Program, English Language Arts is introduced as follows

  • Kindergarten: 100% Spanish
  • 1st grade: 100% Spanish
  • 2nd grade: 80% Spanish, 20% English
  • 3rd grade: 75% Spanish, 25% English
  • 4th grade: 60% Spanish 40% English.
  • 5th grade: 60% Spanish 40% English.

Contact Information

Amie Santillán

Dean of Spanish Immersion (K-12)
616.863.6374  ext. 6008

Jenny Bradley

Elementary Secretary/Spanish Immersion (K-5)

What Is Spanish Immersion Education? 

In this program, students will learn the district’s rigorous core academic program through instruction in Spanish. Spanish is the means of content instruction, not just a subject of instruction. Many research studies have shown the effectiveness of language immersion programs in language and cognitive development. Students in our Spanish Immersion program demonstrate evidence of growth in both English and Spanish. Standardized test scores and research indicate that the learning in Spanish does not inhibit learning in English. In most cases, the learning of a Second language increases the learning of the first language.

 Rockford’s Immersion program (K-12) begins with a 90/10 model. This means that the percentage of Spanish content instruction begins with 90% of the day. As a student moves through the grade levels, the percentage of Spanish decreases and the English content instruction increases. 

In addition to learning academic content in a second language, students’ eyes are opened to the beautiful diversity in our community and our world by learning about different people, cultures, and countries. 

The experience of learning in an immersion program helps students develop critical soft skills such as grit, perseverance, and problem solving as they navigate communicating in a second language.

Why We Believe in Spanish Immersion? 

  • Early language study results in greater skills in divergent thinking and figural creativity. (Landry 1973)
  • Children in effective early second language programs show overall gains on standardized tests of basic skills, and derive additional cognitive, social, and affective benefits. (Taylor-Ward, 2003)
  • Learning another language can enhance knowledge of English structure and vocabulary. (Curtain & Dahlberg, 2004)
  • Children that learn additional languages show greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and higher order thinking skills. (Hakuta, 1986)

In elementary school, students begin their journey toward bilingualism and biliteracy.  Students are taught core subjects in Spanish.  Formal English Language Arts learning begins in 2nd grade and increases gradually each year thereafter. Percentages of English instruction increase each year until 5th grade, in which the percentages of English and Spanish are equal; 50% English and 50% Spanish. 

Co-curricular classes such as music, art & physical education are taught in English.

  • During the Middle School years, the content areas studied in Spanish are Social Studies and Language Arts. The purpose of this is to explore and maintain students´ language ability. 
  • In 6th grade students are part of the Communications and Culture Magnet. Spanish classes include Spanish Language Arts and Social Studies.
  • 7th grade students take Spanish Language Arts and one trimester of Exploremos, a comparative language study of Spanish and English. 
  • 8th grade students take Social Studies in Spanish as well as Exploremos 2 (1 trimester), a continued in-depth look at Spanish and English. 
  • Foreigh Language Credits: By completing Rockford Spanish Immersion,  K-8th grade, students are able to earn 2 credits toward the High School World Language credit requirements.

SI Secondary Google Slides

In 9th grade students begin to take courses that ensure maintenance and continued growth in Spanish. Students are in need of continued study to ensure linguistic capacity. These courses support the increasing demands of language learning as well as prepare students for upper level Spanish or other World Language courses. 


9th grade: World Studies (2 trimesters) *core
Students analyze the causes, sequences, and consequences of significant events in the last 1000 years of World History. This is a core subject and follows the curriculum and pacing of the English-led course, while spending more time on communicative and collaborative activities in-class to build language and content knowledge at the same time.


9th grade: Language Essentials (CLEP test prep) 1 trimester
This course will deepen the understanding of Spanish grammar. This one trimester course is designed to prepare students for the CLEP test which is a required assessment in the Dual Enrollment courses with Ferris University.  


Spanish Immersion Dual Enrollment
Rockford Public Schools, along with Ferris State University, will offer a Dual Enrollment Spanish program. This program will provide Spanish Immersion students an opportunity to earn a minor in Spanish through continued coursework at Rockford High School and Ferris State University. This partnership is a validation of our students’ language level and will promote rigorous continued learning.

  • Students earn a minor in Spanish through Ferris State University
  • Students may complete this one-year program in grade 10, 11 or 12. 
  • Courses taught by FSU instructor(s). 
  • Courses taught in hybrid format, including both in-person and remote learning.
  • Interested students will take the CLEP test as 9th graders and plan their schedule accordingly


Dual Enrollment Information:
Enrollment requirements: EITHER a CLEP (College Level Examination Program) test score of 63 OR a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Spanish test. Rockford Public schools will be a testing site. Students sign up through the counseling office. Cost is $80.


10th grade (1st semester runs from the start of school through December)

This course introduces advanced undergraduate students to Spain’s most representative writings and writers from the Middle Ages to present times. Readings are complemented with the necessary historical background for better comprehension. Readings cover diverse literary genres such as: fiction, drama, poetry, and essays. Emphasis on contemporary readings and authors. Taught in Spanish. 


10th grade (2nd semester runs January through end of school year)

Outlines of history and geography precede the introduction to the culture and society of Hispanic America, especially Mexico. Lectures, films, and works of fiction and nonfiction give a general overview of daily life in Hispanic countries. Taught in Spanish.


12th grade: Senior Capstone (1 trimester) *elective

SI Secondary Google Slides

Spanish Immersion Elementary Enrollment Process

Students enter the program through one of two ways:

1) Through Sibling

2024-2025 SI Pre Registration November 1–December 22, 2023

Families who currently have enrolled Spanish Immersion students are eligible for the sibling registration. Sibling registration begins on November 01, and ends December 22, 2023, at 4 pm. To register this way, families must:

1. Completed pre-registration form for the SI Program – this is not your registration/enrollment for Kindergarten
Spanish Immersion Sibling Registration Form for Kindergarten

Email the
following documents to
2. birth certificate
3. and one proof of residency*

*Acceptable Residency Documents: Current Utility bill within the last month, Mortgage statement, Lease Agreement (signed by landlord and tenant), City Assessor’s Tax Statement (current year)

If the pre-enrollment form is not submitted by December 22, 2023, at 4 pm, late submissions will be added to the in-district lottery.

2) Kindergarten New Family Lottery

New student lottery begins Monday, January 8, 2024 and ends on March 26, 2024 at 4:00 pm.

Interested RPS resident families must email all documents to

  1. Completed pre-registration form for the SI Lottery – this is not your registration/enrollment for Kindergarten
    Spanish Immersion Pre-Registration Form for Kindergarten (open from 1/8/2024-3/26/2024)
  2. Birth certificate
  3. One proof of residency*

*Acceptable Residency Documents: Current Utility bill within the last month, Mortgage statement, Lease Agreement (signed by landlord and tenant), City Assessor’s Tax Statement (current year)

All forms will be given a letter when you receive an email response. These letters will be used for the lottery.

Each Application is time stamped and we will not accept any applications after March 26, 2024 at 4:00 PM.  You will receive a confirmation of receipt email within 48 hours of submission during business hours from January 8, 2024 – March 26, 2024.  It will also contain your Lottery Letter.

If the pre-enrollment form is not submitted by March 26, 2024, by 4 pm, late submissions will be added to the end of the waiting list after we have had the lottery.


New students interested in Rockford’s SI Program need to fill out the following form
Spanish Immersion Waitlist Form

If we have openings in your child’s grade level we will reach out to you to see if you would be interested in joining our program. We will set up an appointment to evaluate your child’s Spanish speaking skills to help with correct classroom placement.

Lottery Process

A random lottery will be conducted with a RPS administrator mid April 2024. An Administrative Assistant will notify parents by phone or email of their Lottery placement once the lottery is complete. Parents may inquire about the results the day after the lottery has taken place after 10:30 am.

Those who receive notification that they are on the waitlist will be informed of their place on the waitlist. In order to remain on the waitlist, the student must remain a resident in the RPS attendance area.

Rockford Spanish Immersion Information

Any additional questions please feel free to contact our Dean of Spanish Immersion Amie Santillán at  or call 616.863.6374

What some of our graduates have to say:

The Spanish Immersion program has offered me so much more in terms of connecting to individuals especially in terms of my college direction. Having a unique skill that allows me to communicate with countless people is something I am truly grateful to have”--Cat (2019)

“Spanish Immersion gave me an amazing gift that I carry with myself everyday. It has given me the tools to succeed in classes and given me a way to connect with the world on a different level. I have been able to travel and even take an internship in Mexico because of what the program has given me.” –Cole (2018)

Parent Testimonials

“We have always believed in offering opportunities for our children. We took a leap of faith and enrolled our oldest in RSI’s 1st year!! We have continued with all of our children and it has proven to be one of the best investments that we have made for our family.  Our children have not only learned to speak, read and write in Spanish, they have learned about culture, which has opened opportunities and awareness beyond our community for all of us.   We are grateful to ALL of our RSI educators and staff for their commitment and investment in what it takes to build a successful Spanish Immersion program for our students.”Tania and Chad Gordon (parents from the beginning of Rockford Spanish Immersion)

We are fairly new to the SI program, as our older two children attend traditional schools. But what I can tell you, is from our first school tour and meeting we knew the RogueWood SI program was a perfect fit for our boys!

Our experience with the SI program and staff has been a huge blessing to our family. Not just academically, but culturally, socially and emotionally.

We are so thankful to have such an incredible, in-district program accessible to our children. –Sara and Matt Pitzer