The heart and soul of la Puerta Abierta begins with our local staff of twenty and our executive director, many who have been a part of our program since it’s inception ten years ago . We value the support of parents at our center- believing that “it takes a village” to educate our youth. Families are encouraged to actively participate in their child’s education at la Puerta Abierta. In addition, our center has collaborated with volunteers and educators from around the world to complement our mission of sharing creative and innovative teaching practices with the youth of Santiago Atitlan. We continue to work with partnering NGOS, welcoming the opportunity to grow, exchange ideas and learn with others.
Meet our team:
Amanda– Professional Development Support and Co-Founder
Amanda taught bilingual elementary education in Oakland, California. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a focus in education and Spanish. Amanda arrived in Guatemala in 2003 as a Peace Corps volunteer. While she never imagined that she would be planting her roots in rural Guatemala, she couldn’t be happier living in a colorful rural village with her husband, two rambunctious daughters and equally rambunctious dogs. Amanda feels fortunate to have work that is creative, meaningful, and keeps her connected to the playful spirit of children.
Juanita began volunteering at La Puerta Abierta as a high-school student and currently is the backbone of our center. In addition to working at La Puerta Abierta, she is studying psychology at the university with the goal of opening a mental health support center in our community. She enjoys being outdoors, spending time with her family (she is the eldest of four sisters) and reading.
Isa– English Program Coordinator
Before working formally at our center, Isa volunteered at La Puerta Abierta as a Natik high-school scholarship student. She was inspired by our teaching practices and began working at our center soon after she graduated from teaching school. In addition to teaching English at our center, Isa is also studying law at the university. Isa likes drawing, singing, taking pictures, and is passionate about teaching.
Isaias–Traveling Library Coordinator
Isaias describes himself as being social, dynamic and friendly. He visits ten schools and community centers throughout the week bringing story hour and creative activities to rural school children. He travels on the back of a pick-up truck and carries his supplies with him in a back-pack. When Isaias visits his schools, the children shout, “Here comes the story teacher!” Isaias is studying psychology and enjoys working with teens. He currently oversees our teen reading circle. He also produces audio stories for children which allows him to share his talent with a much bigger audience in our community.
Martin has graduated from the university with a degree in business administration. As a child, his favorite subject in school was math and numbers continue to fascinate him. He describes himself as friendly, social, understanding and easy-going. Martin is our tech-quiz and loves to solve our computer complications at La Puerta Abierta. Martin also enjoys teaching STEM activities with our students.
David–Physical Education Teacher
David has been offering exercises to our students since the beginning of La Puerta Abierta. He shares classes that are challenging, innovative and fun for our students. David is now a father, and we hope that his son will join un at La Puerta Abierta in a few more years. David also offers swimming classes in our community.
Febe has been collaborating at La Puerta Abierta for many years, first as a volunteer and currently as our lead preschool teacher. She is dynamic, creative and fun. When she is not at La Puerta Abierta she likes to design clothes, go to the gym, and listen to music. Febe is studying special education at the university.
Chonita–Early Stimulation Coordinator and Kindergarten Teacher
Chonita joined our team at la Puerta Abierta in our first year of existence and has helped shape our literacy programs, preschool classes, early stimulation classes, and the Traveling Library. Currently she co-teaches kindergarten and oversees our early stimulation classes. Three things that bring joy to Chonita are painting, embroidering, and interacting with children.
Elias–Early Education Support Staff
Elias is enthusiastic, hard-working and positive. His biggest dream is to be a permanent teacher at la Puerta Abierta. Elias is the eldest of 5 siblings and the first in his family to pursue a higher education. In his free time, Elias likes to read, run, and spend time in nature.
Ana–Early Education Support Staff
Ana is passionate about working with children. She is the eldest of 4 siblings and when she is not planning activities for our students at La Puerta Abierta, she is creating mini classes for her younger siblings at home. Ana is also studying psychology at the university.
Candelaria–Primary School Coordinator and 1st Grade Teacher
Candelaria also began at La Puerta Abierta as a volunteer while she was in high-school. She has evolved into the lead primary school teacher at our center. In addition to working at La Puerta Abierta, she also coordinates The Sparks Foundation reading circles and mentors a group of 30 local jr. high-school students. Three things that make Candelaria happy are bead work, teaching children, and her family.
Ana–2nd Grade Teacher
Ana first learned about La Puerta Abierta when she enrolled her son in our preschool. She began collaborating with our programs as a parent volunteer and now manages our library collection. In addition, Ana is the second grade teacher at our center. She describes herself as enthusiastic, creative, fun and happy. Ana enjoys reading children’s books, cooking, and aerobic dancing. She is also studying education at the university.
Mari–3rd Grade Teacher
Mari is a graduate of the StarfishOnebyOne Program which cultivates young female leaders to be agents of change in their community. Mari is passionate about music, fashion, art and nature. She is studying psychology at the university. In her free time, she can often be found walking her adorable black dog, Noche.
Vanessa–4th Grade Teacher
Vanessa has been working at La Puerta Abierta for three years. The subject that she most likes to teach at school is math. Vanessa is the eldest of three siblings and enjoys spending time with her family. In her free time, she likes to play sports, especially soccer, walking in nature and reading. She is also studying psychology at the university.
Nicolasa and Silvia–Secretaries
Nicolasa and Silvia are our saving graces at La Puerta Abierta. They interact with parents, students, teachers and community members on a daily basis. Nicolasa enjoys designing new products for our mothers’ artisan group and is currently studying English at the university. Silvia is studying accounting at the university and likes to sew and embroider.