Who We Are

We Are…

The Puerta Abierta is a vibrant learning center for students of all ages with a focus on meaningful education and literacy outreach in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.  We offer creative teaching practices that awaken a love for learning and exploration in our students and teachers. 

Our Philosophy

At the Puerta Abierta we believe that all children and their families deserve a dignified and progressive education, one that evokes curiosity about the world we live in.  We value:

Creativity

Exposure to art, painting, music, drama and meaningful play allows children to be the creators and producers of their own activities.

Critical Thinking

Integrating interactive learning opportunities into our curriculum inspires curiosity in our students and enhances problem-solving skills.

Diversity

Our programs welcome and celebrate the diversity that is reflected in our community. We embrace three languages in our center (Spanish, English, Tz’utujil), and receive families from all walks of life.

Literacy

Early access to books and story telling is crucial to developing a child’s imagination and literacy skills. Our center hosts a large collection of books and engages students in reading activities at a young age. In addition, the Traveling Library reaches out to local community schools sharing story hours, book kits and creative activities to participating schools.

Cultivating Teachers

We believe that our teachers are valued facilitators of change and deserve continuous education for professional growth and development. Training just one teacher in creative teaching practices will have a positive influence on an infinite amount of students.

Brighter Futures

Access to creativity, critical thinking, literacy, diversity and skilled teachers paves the path to opportunities for a new generation of students in our community…a generation of leaders, problem solvers, dreamers and creators.

"La Puerta is not only a school and education center but also a part of the pulse of the community in Santiago, Atitlán... a place that is nurturing the hearts and minds of the students that go there. These are the children who will grow up to to be the next leaders, musicians, critical thinkers, writers, and environmentalists."
Paula Jordan
Nature educator and children’s yoga teacher from Boston, Massachusetts

Our History

La Puerta Abierta Learning Center began in one small room on the second story of a building in the heart of Santiago Atitlan. Recognizing the importance of having access to books and literature for children and teens, founders Karen Hedrick, a retired teacher and Amanda Flayer, a former Peace Corps volunteer, started La Puerta Abierta in 2007.

The project opened with one part time librarian, a few tables and chairs and a large collection of books. A sign was hung from the roof of the building and not long after, children began to flow into the center. Throughout the past twelve years, La Puerta Abierta has launched and maintained a variety of projects to inspire the children of Santiago Atitlan to connect with reading including the Traveling Library, Saturday morning story hours, Mommy and Me classes, radio readings and teen reading circles.

In  2010 La Puerta Abierta expanded to include a progressive school that provides an inviting, stimulating, and nurturing educational environment for our young learners. We follow a creative curriculum that embraces art and exploration.

"La Puerta is not only a school and education center but also a part of the pulse of the community in Santiago, Atitlán... a place that is nurturing the hearts and minds of the students that go there. These are the children who will grow up to to be the next leaders, musicians, critical thinkers, writers, and environmentalists."
Paula Jordan
Nature educator and children’s yoga teacher from Boston, Massachusetts

Awards and Recognition

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