Boise Elementary Spanish
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About Us

What is a caballama, anyway?


Who is this strange creature with the BES logo?

Our Boise Elementary Spanish mascot, the caballama, is a wacky mix of a horse (caballo) and a llama.

The Caballama is the product of a creative and fun discussion during a BES board meeting about adopting a mascot that is fun and engaging. We wanted a creature that could capture the imagination of children and families interested in the Spanish speaking world. We talked about insects, burros, horses and countless other animals but none seemed to embody the personality we felt BES needed.  

“Why not make our own animal?” we thought, and thus the Caballama was born. A fun and sometimes silly creature, the caballama is inclusive, flexible, multilingual and adventurous. It can see forward and backward to the future and the past, and so looks toward new places and people while being steeped in a rich and deep cultural history.

Now you know.

Our History

Boise Elementary Spanish was founded in 1992. For more than 25 years, enthusiastic instructors have been providing Spanish language lessons to K-6th grade children in up to a dozen classrooms, twice per week. The recognition that language learning at a young age is more than just a good idea, essential in fact, has been the driving force in our efforts to help parents give their children the foundation and tools they need to successfully navigate the world in adulthood.

In Loving Memory of Chad Ishiyama, BES Executive Director

All the words in all the languages fail to express the deep loss that Chad leaves in our organization and in this world, but here is my best attempt: Chad's heart for this work was unparalleled; he is truly irreplaceable. Boise Elementary Spanish is forever indebted to the tireless work and unconditional dedication of Chad Ishiyama, both in his role as teacher and as executive director. Chad lived and breathed BES, and his pure love of sharing Spanish with children at a young age was evident. He was so proud of this program and of the many Boise children who were given the gift of language and culture because of his commitment, particularly his students with whom he remained close over the years who also developed a passion for Spanish.Mil gracias, Chad, para abrir tantas puertas al mundo para los niños de nuestra comunidad.

-Leah Victorino, Former BES Board President


Our Philosophy

It is well documented that learning a second language can help build a foundation for success in the 21st century, including better access to jobs and higher pay, as well as broader access to global information, resources and people. In addition, students display cognitive improvements and benefit from a well-rounded education.

While many families recognize the benefits of learning a second language, the opportunity is available to too few students. BES strives to bring the benefits of language learning to all students, and is working to ensure Idaho kids are all on an equal footing as they learn and grow.

BES believes learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires time, commitment, and patience. Our teaching approach is full immersion which is rated as the most successful way of learning a second language. By immersion, we mean that 90-95% of our classes are taught entirely in Spanish.  While it is completely normal for students to go through a "deer in headlights" adjustment period if they have not had previous exposure to another language, we know that children quickly adjust and adapt to the immersion class format.

Opportunities surround us every day to use and apply the invaluable education that Boise Elementary Spanish provides.

Our Vision

To truly offers students the most fun "hour" of their day, our immersive teaching strategy is focused on storytelling and games with relative content that builds comprehension much the same way we acquire our native language.

Our future plans are all about delivering a truly comprehensive program in an inspiring environment that gets students speaking, reading, writing and thinking in a second language. Whether in elementary school classrooms, centrally located junior high schools, field trips with families or other community events, we want to build a community engaged in learning and loving the language and culture of the Spanish speaking world. 

Our path forward includes:

  1. Offering language education “in the neighborhood” to students and families across the valley
  2. Providing additional learning opportunities outside of the classroom
  3. Partnering with like minded educators in and beyond Boise

We are excited about our next 25 years!