Language immersion pre-K travels to Short Pump

Photos by Michael Thompson.

Jeannine Piacenza has brought her D.C.-based children’s language immersion school to Short Pump. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Two Washington, D.C., entrepreneurs have chosen Short Pump as their next stop in teaching children new languages.

Washington, D.C.-based CommuniKids, which offers various services to teach foreign languages to young children, opened a new location at 3111 Lauderdale Drive in Henrico County in early November.

The for-profit company teaches Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese to children from ages 18 months to 10 years old. It offers preschool, weekly language classes and summer camps.

“We have a special niche in that we blend child care with the language piece,” said CommuniKids co-owner Jeannine Piacenza. “Many people recommended Short Pump as an area that has lots of families, children and diversity.”

Piacenza and co-owner Raul Echevarria, both former teachers, opened the first CommuniKids location in D.C. in 2005. A second location was launched two years later in Falls Church, Va. An outpost in Loudon, Va., is planned for summer 2015 and a fifth center could spring up in Maryland in 2016, Piacenza said.

CommuniKids teaches Spanish, French and Mandarin.

CommuniKids teaches Spanish, French and Mandarin.

Here in Richmond, Piacenza said the market for children’s language programs is wide open.

“We didn’t find any language programs geared to them at all,” Piacenza said. “We feel that we are filling a void.”

Piacenza said the company is spending $300,000 to $400,000 to expand into Richmond and that the biggest expense is paying for salaries for local employees. The expansion is being financed with the help of a small group of investors, she said.

The company’s challenge now is getting children enrolled. To that end, CommuniKids is offering free classes as it looks to build up its local enrollment numbers. Tuition is $10,000 a year for five full days of language immersion preschool and $4,000 a year for three half days per week.

CommuniKids has a 10-year lease on the 11,000-square-foot Lauderdale Drive space that was formerly home to a daycare center.

Another Richmond location may be on the horizon, as well, Piacenza said. She added that parents that have attended CommuniKids open houses have said they’d like to see a location on the Southside.

“We want to gauge demand before we do that,” Piacenza said.

Photos by Michael Thompson.

Jeannine Piacenza has brought her D.C.-based children’s language immersion school to Short Pump. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Two Washington, D.C., entrepreneurs have chosen Short Pump as their next stop in teaching children new languages.

Washington, D.C.-based CommuniKids, which offers various services to teach foreign languages to young children, opened a new location at 3111 Lauderdale Drive in Henrico County in early November.

The for-profit company teaches Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese to children from ages 18 months to 10 years old. It offers preschool, weekly language classes and summer camps.

“We have a special niche in that we blend child care with the language piece,” said CommuniKids co-owner Jeannine Piacenza. “Many people recommended Short Pump as an area that has lots of families, children and diversity.”

Piacenza and co-owner Raul Echevarria, both former teachers, opened the first CommuniKids location in D.C. in 2005. A second location was launched two years later in Falls Church, Va. An outpost in Loudon, Va., is planned for summer 2015 and a fifth center could spring up in Maryland in 2016, Piacenza said.

CommuniKids teaches Spanish, French and Mandarin.

CommuniKids teaches Spanish, French and Mandarin.

Here in Richmond, Piacenza said the market for children’s language programs is wide open.

“We didn’t find any language programs geared to them at all,” Piacenza said. “We feel that we are filling a void.”

Piacenza said the company is spending $300,000 to $400,000 to expand into Richmond and that the biggest expense is paying for salaries for local employees. The expansion is being financed with the help of a small group of investors, she said.

The company’s challenge now is getting children enrolled. To that end, CommuniKids is offering free classes as it looks to build up its local enrollment numbers. Tuition is $10,000 a year for five full days of language immersion preschool and $4,000 a year for three half days per week.

CommuniKids has a 10-year lease on the 11,000-square-foot Lauderdale Drive space that was formerly home to a daycare center.

Another Richmond location may be on the horizon, as well, Piacenza said. She added that parents that have attended CommuniKids open houses have said they’d like to see a location on the Southside.

“We want to gauge demand before we do that,” Piacenza said.

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Michael Pirron
Michael Pirron
7 years ago

There are some small, little known, but great immersion programs in the Richmond Area: a French immersion school which opened three years ago, two Chinese, and a Japanese immersion school. My daughters attend Heartwood Grove, an amazing Early Kindergarten ton6th grade 501c-3 non-profit immersion school. Heartwood Grove School also offers Russian and is planning to expand soon to offer Spanish.

Michelle Gelrud
Michelle Gelrud
7 years ago

In reading this article, I am disturbed by the comment made by the owner of this company. As Mr. Pirron noted, there are, in fact, some language immersion programs in Richmond geared towards children of K-12 ages. Another that was not mentioned in his comment is ENB Languages 4 Kidz, LLC, which is minority owned and newly opened here in Richmond. ENB Languages 4 Kidz LLC opened its doors in early November (2014) and has already experienced massive enrollment numbers. This program offers French, Spanish, and Italian language programs to children of 3-6 and 7-13 years old. ENB Languages for… Read more »

Yalibi D'Addario
Yalibi D'Addario
7 years ago

Dear Mr. Thompson, Greetings! My name is Yalibi D’Addario and I am the Founder and Director of ENB Languages 4 Kidz, LLC. ENB is a local language school geared toward teaching languages to all Richmond children, particularly the youngest. We opened our doors last month, and already have a large group of students attending our programs. The majority of our classes are held at Saint Benedict School in the Museum District, and we also have a location at CartWheels and Coffee in Carytown. A few colleagues and fellow language school owners told me about the article that you wrote about… Read more »