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About Coral Way

Overview of Coral Way 

Coral Way Elementary School was the first publicly-funded dual language two-way immersion program in the United States. The program opened its doors to both Spanish- and English-speaking children in 1963 as an “experiment’ following the Cuban refugee crisis. Educators in the Coral Way neighborhood in Miami, Florida, recognized at the time that Cuban children needed instruction in Spanish, their first language, while learning English, and native English speakers also would benefit from instruction in both Spanish and English.

The contributions of Coral Way are far-reaching. Since its establishment in 1963, an estimated more than 2,000 dual language programs are currently in existence across the US. 

History of the Collection

This digital collection documents the early contributions of the visionaries of the first dual language program in the US and the experiences and memories of those who participated in its early years. 

The digital collection began at the University of Arizona Libraries as a creation by renowned international scholar of bilingual education, Dr. Richard Ruiz, and Bess de Farber, the George A. Smathers Libraries grants manager and alumnus of the Coral Way class of 1967. The original collection, “Coral Way Bilingual Elementary School,” contains historical and official documents, working papers, correspondence, photographs, pieces of memorabilia, and oral histories with transcriptions collected from Coral Way student alumni, teachers, and administrators in 2008.

In 2018, the Smathers Libraries at UF was granted permission by the University of Arizona Libraries to replicate and host the original digital collection. With funding from the George A. Smathers Libraries, new material, including documents and research findings, memorabilia, photographs, and new oral histories from Coral Way alumni and educators were collected and analyzed by Dr. Maria Coady, UF professor of bilingual education and Bess de Farber. These additional digital materials have been integrated into this expanded collection.


The Coral Way Bilingual Program, a book authored by Dr. Maria Coady, was published in 2020 (Multilingual Matters Publishers). It shares the story of Coral Way's extraordinary experiment using materials from this collection.