Spanish school on Long Island faces uncertain future

The Spanish All Year school in Westbury is in danger of closing. Parents like Mary Lewis are praying it survives.

"It's a place filled with love, magic, and authenticity," Lewis said. "As a parent, when you leave your child you want them to feel loved and safe and this school is it."

For more than two decades, the school has been promoting the Spanish language and culture to children between 1 and 12 years old.

The problem, according to director Maria Isabel Martinez, enrollment isn't what it once was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school, which doesn't get any help from the government, relies fully on student tuition to pay the bills.

"If we are not able to find the families we need, we'll have to close the program for good," Martinez said.

For now, Spanish All Year plans to move the program about a mile down the road to another school and hopes to boost enrollment. The goal is to continue culture and education for future generations.

Kathy Magalhaes' daughter Isabella just graduated from the program but the mom, who is pregnant with her fourth child, hopes to keep the Spanish school tradition alive and send him, too.

"The Spanish language was important growing up in my household and I wanted my children to have that same advantage," she said. "We're trying to get together as a community to help the program survive."

Kathy and other Latino parents have donated to the program's GoFundMe. The hope is to enroll another eight to 10 families. Until then, Martinez is trying to stay optimistic. 

"I pray that life will give us the opportunity to keep the doors open," she said.