Unlike other office jobs, real estate often means coming and going throughout the day. Sometimes I notice all the high school kids heading to Wilson High School which is right across the street from my office. Or I’ll see the kids cutting through Fort Reno Park heading to or from Deal Middle School. Occasionally I’ll encounter a group of small children walking in a line to the park or tennis courts to run around. I love looking at the tiny people and remembering when my kids were that age. And now I know they are coming from CommuniKids.
Tenleytown Main Street Member Interviews
Why did you decide to open CommuniKids?
Jeannine Piacenza and I were looking for language immersion for our kids. In 2003, we and some neighborhood families started Caterpillar Cooperative Preschool which met three days a week. By 2005 the program grew and CommuniKids offered a full Spanish-immersion curriculum. In 2009 we became a pre-school offering Spanish, Mandarin and French. We now offer preschool, after school programs, language classes and summer camps.
What made you choose the Tenleytown area to start your business?
We initially started Caterpillar Cooperative Preschool at the Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church which gave us space for free. And it was near where the initial families lived.
What is your favorite thing about running your company?
It is a labor of love for both of us. The excitement of starting the kids on the right track. Our kids are prepared for Kindergarten and they are globally prepared with native fluency in a second language in 3 years of immersion. Bilingual education provides the social emotional skills needed for Kindergarten including: taking turns, delayed gratification, relating to others, self soothing, and empathy. And learning another language means the kids are learning to listen to and interact with people who look, sound and pray differently. Their education is a celebration of culture.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
During the recession, our accountant said to us, “Y0u can be a doctor or you can be a dentist. Preschool is a necessity while a language school is optional.” So we became a preschool. We are one of only 8% of preschools in the United States with National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation and we’re licensed by the DC Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) so we are able FREE Pre-K to 3 and 4 year old residents of the District of Columbia regardless of their economic situation. And now 80% of our students have no language background outside of school.
Anything to add or anyone to thank?
The Tenleytown Community for their support since 2003. We are looking forward to giving back to the community by preparing their kids with the social, emotional and soft skills needed for school and creating the global citizens of tomorrow. And our teachers and staff. We are like a big family.
If you are interested in learning more about the amazing work that Raúl and Jeannine are doing at CommuniKids, visit their website at https://communikids.com/. They have many upcoming events listed on their site as well.
4719 Wisconsin Ave, NW
Washington DC 20016