World Languages

  • Our Program

    In keeping with Winnetka’s Progressive Education tradition, our World Language program empowers students to both understand and communicate in the target language. We believe that developing linguistic and cultural fluency enables our students to connect and collaborate with different people and cultures, fostering broader democratic participation.

    Our carefully articulated early start – long sequence program incorporates best-practice strategies that provide meaningful language experiences, while supporting language acquisition.

    Vision and Beliefs 

    The vision of the World Language program is to empower students to acquire language to communicate, understand, learn, create, and cooperate with others.

    In order to understand people and cultures and foster democratic participation both locally and globally, students must have the opportunity to develop language and cultural skills in other languages.

    By enhancing critical thinking skills, language acquisition also fosters greater awareness and sensitivity, preparing and encouraging citizens to participate in a globally interconnected 21st Century.

    Curriculum Overview

    Winnetka World Language students will...
    Acquire language by participating in a well-articulated 1st-8th grade World Language Program.

    Cultivate the language skills, vocabulary and grammar needed for functional language proficiency.

    Gain confidence in the target language by interacting in oral and written contexts beginning in first grade.

    Use the target language in classroom communication.
    Develop and nurture a lifelong interest in language learning and cultural exploration.

    Understand the diversity and commonality among cultures of the world and appreciate the values and beliefs of all people.

    Meet the Teachers

    World Languages in Winnetka are primarily taught through Comprehensible Input - based strategies. Language is best acquired when students understand everything they hear and read in class and when they are involved, unstressed and engaged. We believe that every student has an innate ability to acquire a second language and it should feel as natural as acquiring a first.

    Sarah Kapadia - Crow Island School Spanish Teacher

    Señora Kapadia began teaching at Crow Island School in 2012. She teaches first through fourth grade Spanish along with her colleague, Señora Landor. She studied abroad in Córdoba, Spain and has travelled and volunteered throughout Central America. She enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her family.

    Rebecca Landor - Crow Island School Spanish Teacher

    Señora Landor came to Winnetka in 2012, and now teaches 1st through 4th grade Spanish at Crow Island. She has traveled throughout Spain and Latin America, learning as much as she can about different cultures to bring back to her students. Señora Landor loves reading and spending time with her adorable niece.

    Alisa Shapiro - Greeley School Spanish Teacher

    Señora Shapiro has been at Greeley since the founding of the elementary World Language program in 1993! She has studied and travelled in Spain and Latin America, and loves both visiting and hosting friends from Costa Rica. Señora regularly consults with other language departments & presents at local and national language conferences.

    Señora Shapiro loves Latin American music, art, dance and food. She enjoys spinning & dramatizing wacky stories with her 1st through 4th grade Spanish students!

    Sarah Muñoz  - Hubbard Woods School Spanish Teacher

    Profe Muñoz came to Winnetka in 2017 and teaches 1st through 4th grade Spanish at Hubbard Woods School. She has traveled throughout Spain and Latin America and enjoys volunteering and meeting new friends from around the world. She holds a Master’s Degree in Spanish from Middlebury College during which time she studied abroad in Argentina. Profe Muñoz spends her free time running and playing at the park with her daughter.

    Rachel Emery – The Skokie School Spanish Teacher

    Señorita Emery came to Winnetka in 2016. She enjoys creating stories with her 5th and 6th grade students. Prior to coming to the district, she taught in Michigan and spent time volunteering in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and in Madrid, Spain as a language classroom assistant. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Foreign Language Teaching from Michigan State University. She has written two graded readers for language learners and has presented at national language teaching conferences. Outside of school, Señorita Emery enjoys reading, gardening, and sewing.

    Su Pesa - The Skokie School Spanish Teacher

    Señora Pesa grew up in a small province in the northwest of Argentina, called Tucumán, close to the mountains. She lived there for many years, and then came to Chicago where she attended The University of Chicago for a brief period. Señora Pesa returned to Argentina soon after, and completed her university degree in Licenciatura en Psicología. By then, she had married and had three children.

    Señora Pesa ventured with her family to Israel, where they lived for three years and taught English to Hebrew speaking students. After coming to the USA, she worked with 5th graders at a school in Glenview. She started at our district in the year 2000 teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish. Señora Pesa loves working with 5th and 6th graders at Skokie School! Sra. Pesa presents at national conferences with her colleagues.

    Faith Laux - Washburne School Spanish Teacher

    Maestra Laux is passionate about empowering her students to communicate effectively in Spanish. Growing up in Florida she had easy access to Spanish and continued to fuel her passion for the language studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain and traveling throughout Latin America.

    Maestra Laux regularly leads workshops around the country that focus on classroom management and emotional intelligence. She has a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida. She enjoys expressing her creativity through jewelry design, writing, photography and painting.

    Niki Tottingham - Washburne School Spanish Teacher

    Originally from Wyoming, Señorita Tottingham has been working in Winnetka since 2010. She studied abroad in Granada, Spain has a Master’s Degree in Spanish and Latin American Literature and Culture from NYU, Madrid. In addition to her studies, she has traveled extensively throughout Central and South America. Señorita Tottingham is an active presenter at local and national conferences. Outside of the classroom she enjoys hiking, running, and traveling.

    Carla Tarini - The Skokie School 6th grade French Teacher

    Madame Tarini is passionate about sharing her love for language learning with children. She believes that learning French should be dynamic and fun and should feel as natural as learning a first language.  Madame Tarini frequently presents and coaches teachers at language conferences. She has worked in District 36 since 2009. MadameTarini holds Master's degrees in Education and ESL as well as an ad-hoc Bachelor's degree in French, Italian, and Linguistics. After graduating from Northwestern University she received a Fulbright Junior Lectureship to teach English in a high school in Nice, France. Nice was so nice that she stayed there for four years!

    Julie Ambrose - Washburne School French Teacher

    Madame Ambrose has been teaching in Winnetka since 1994. She grew up in Lake Bluff, IL. She fell in with love French at the age of six when her 14-year-old sister brought her to her French class, as a show and tell project. She sang Alouette and was hooked!

    In college, Madame Ambrose studied theater and French. Who knew she’d be able to use her dramatic training, teaching French every day? Madame Ambrose also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. Her ability to navigate the city comes in handy when traveling with students. She also has a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

    She enjoys taking students on an exchange program to France each year and bringing the knowledge and culture back to her classroom. She enjoys reading, skiing and knitting.