Girl Inspiration

At la Puerta Abierta, we believe in the importance of having positive role models for our girls.  We strive to inspire confidence and leadership in all our students which is why we are grateful to have Elena working with us during the months of May and June.



Elena is one of the first Physical Education teachers in Santiago Atitlan, a profession which is generally occupied by males in our community.  Elena is coaching our girls’ basketball team as they prepare for the community school olympics in June.


In addition to being a talented athlete, Elena models qualities of enthusiasm, dedication, friendship, and kindness for our students.

For many years, Elena was the only girl in a family of 5 brothers.  Her father was a prominent football player in the community and she wanted to participate in all the same sports at the males in her family.  Her family respected her desires and encouraged her to study Physical Education after she graduated from Jr. High.


After living in Santiago for over a decade, I am inspired to see gender roles changing.  I am inspired by families like Elena’s who not only encouraged her to study, but also supported her to study a career dominated by men.  I am inspired by Elena who has chosen to follow her dreams, while different from community norms.  I am inspired by our 5 year old girl athletes who are learning that girls too, can run, jump and play on a team.


Mothers Make the World go Round

May is the month of mothers at La Puerta Abierta.  We give thanks to our Madre Tierra (Mother Earth) and the radiant and splendid gifts that she shares with us.  We’ve been learning about plants, animals, oceans, and lakes and we’ve been generating ideas about how to take care of our Madre Tierra.

We have also dedicated time to celebrating our own mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and female mentors.


According to our students at La Puerta Abierta, we love our mothers because:

1.  My mom plays with me–Diego

2.  My mother buys me ice-cream–Sara

3.  My mother makes me tortillas–Juan

4.  My mother gives me hugs– Naomi

5.  My mother sings me to sleep–Dora

La Madre Tierra presented us with a beautiful day to celebrate our mothers.


We let our mothers rest on the green grass while we sang to them.


We prepared games to bring smiles to the faces of our moms.


We made presents with our own two hands to share with our moms.



We relaxed and enjoyed the sunshine with our moms.


La Puerta Abierta wishes a Feliz Dia de la Madre to all our mother friends around the world!

La Madre de La Puerta Abierta

IMG_5621 Meet Karen.  Karen and I co-founded la Puerta Abierta ten years ago.  Way back when, Karen and I worked together in the rural school of Tzanchaj sharing creative learning with young students.  I was a Peace Corps volunteer and Karen was a 6th grade elementary school teacher.

Over the years, Karen has dedicated her time to supporting our center from afar while I have been developing La Puerta Abierta in Santiago Atitlan.  We are both passionate about books, reading development, creative teaching practices and most importantly, Guatemala.  We make a dynamic team!

Karen’s visit to La Puerta Abierta this year coincides with Mother’s Day, celebrated in Guatemala on May 10th which reminds me that Karen  truly is la madre de la Puerta Abierta.


Her yearly visits bring us warmth, enthusiasm and appreciation for the work that our team carries out on a weekly basis.

During her week in Santiago, Karen has had the opportunity to read and teach English with our students.


We enjoyed learning a new rendition of “Who stole the cookie front he cookie jar?” and eating cookies too.

She also visited with Isaias and our traveling library program.


Karen delivered books to rural schools.


And made tortillas with Juanita, Isa, and Maria’s family!


Thank you Karen for your support of our center and our community.


Te queremos mucho!

Happy World Book Day!


For nearly a decade,  La Puerta Abierta has been inspiring our community to read.     Our Traveling Library visits 8 rural schools  bringing story hour to school children, our classrooms host small libraries where students can cozy up with colorful books on a comfortable carpet, our Mommy and Me Classes close with a ritual story and our Teen Reading Circle motivates a more adult audience in Santiago to explore literature.

April 23 marks International Book Day and countries across the world come together to honor the gift of literacy.  For the past two years, La Puerta Abierta has celebrated books, reading, and literacy with the community of Santiago Atitlan throughout the month of April.


Isaias, our traveling library coordinator, organized a big book competition for the  schools that participate in La Biblioteca Movil and we displayed the books in our central park.


The families of La Puerta Abierta paraded through town, displaying illustrations of their favorite stories.  Preschool represented Eric Carle’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear.”



The teachers of La Puerta Abierta shared a beloved classic, “Henny Penny,” with an enthusiastic  audience.   The story was not only read, but also dramatized bringing laughter and enjoyment to local children.


And community members joined us in celebrating the wonderful world of reading!