With a passion for bilingual education, Ahwatukee Foothills resident Nicole Teyechea McNeil is opening up a preschool this summer where kids can learn and benefit from knowing a second language.

Set to open in August, the Early Language Learning and Arts Studio, known as ELLA, will offer kids small class sizes and hands-on learning.

The preschool will be located near Chandler Boulevard and Desert Foothills Parkway. With a staff of about six to eight teachers and a starting goal of just more than 50 students, ELLA studio will offer four classes as well as an art studio.

“I’ve always had the passion and knowledge for this, and now the opportunity is here,” said McNeil.

After helping a similar model for a preschool open in the central Phoenix area, McNeil said she is excited to bring this fusion of Spanish immersion and the Reggio Emilia approach, similar in some ways to the Montessori approach, to the Ahwatukee area.

With both of her own children being bilingual, McNeil said she is constantly amazed at her son’s understanding of both English and Spanish.

“I’m amazed whenever I ask him to repeat something to me in Spanish,” she said. “He understands that it’s the same information.”

McNeil said the reason why young children are more capable of learning and retaining a second language is that the information is stored in the same part of the brain, whereas learning a second language in later years means accessing the information from a different part of the brain.

ELLA Studio, matching her daughter Ella’s name, will begin registration soon.

Classes will start out on a half-day schedule until about noon, leaving the rest of the afternoon to provide professional development for teachers.

“Reggio Emilia is a new approach to the area and the first time it will be used in Spanish learning,” said McNeil. “It’s pulling these two things together.”

ELLA Studio will open in August at 1241 E. Chandler Blvd. For more information, visit www.earlyllastudio.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com. Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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