Impact is a word that we use often at the Puerta Abierta. Daily, we witness the impact that our approach to creative education has on our students. What a privilege we have as educators to witness those “aha” moments when a child learns to connect syllables to read words, conceptualize how to add fractions, or experience the life cycle of a seed to a vegetable. And yet, we are aware that our impact extends well beyond our campus, stretching into our community on a local, national, and global level.
A new and innovative style of education
From the beginning, our educational philosophy has centered on hands-on learning, creativity, and critical thinking. We take professional preparation seriously and devote energy to teaching our students the leadership and communication skills necessary for success in a professional workplace. We are constantly experimenting, always trying to find innovative and unique approaches to education in a country where a progressive education is hard to find. After 15 years of developing an innovative approach to education, our curriculum is being replicated in different educational institutions throughout the country. We often host teachers from other schools, join video calls with fellow educators, and occasionally visit conferences to share what we have learned at the Puerta Abierta. Improving our country’s education system not only takes innovation but also a willingness to share ideas and to try something new.
The values we represent
Our values shine through in our teaching, and our students take these values with them into their homes and their communities. Over the years, our community has witnessed the quality of education provided to our students at the Puerta Abierta. Our enrollment continues to grow year by year, and in addition, our outreach programs are expanding and reaching toddlers, mothers, teens, and adults!
Our students, meanwhile, are learning important skills at the Puerta Abierta that they are taking with them into their communities daily. They are provided opportunities to practice the power of their own voices in advocating for themselves and others. They are encouraged to use critical thinking skills to solve problems. Our students learn the value of respect, even for people with whom they disagree, and how to show empathy through actions and positive attitudes. Our students develop a love of reading, allowing them to access a deep well of new information, different perspectives, and novel ideas. Truly, they learn that their horizons have no limits and that their capacity to make a difference in their community is never-ending.
The leaders we prepare
Our students leave the Puerta Abierta as leaders with confidence in their ability to advocate for change in their communities. They have the skills to solve everyday problems in a critical and creative way and understand the value of including everyone in an activity or process – they know that diverse voices and experiences are important. The new generation of leaders that we are fostering at the Puerta Abierta are prepared to lead with empathy and respect, to lead with dignity and love. Our students and graduates have the capacity to lead Guatemala forward, and to make tangible impacts in their communities.
The community we foster
The Puerta Abierta is a family and is composed of more than just our students and teachers. The families of the Puerta Abierta come from diverse backgrounds around the Santiago Atitlán community, but they are all bound together by a common goal: providing a better education for their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers, or sisters. Our Puerta Abierta family is always ready to help and constantly looks out for each other. If a family at the Puerta Abierta is struggling, one can be sure that the other families will band together to help out. Numerous friendships are formed. Younger siblings of our students cannot wait to start school at the Puerta Abierta and learn what their brothers and/or sisters have learned. The Santiago Atitlán community is enriched by the connections that are formed at our school, and we could not be prouder of the family that we have created here.
The teachers we train
While teaching students may seem like our main priority, we believe that training our teachers is just as important. Our teachers are passionate and innovative, and they are committed to learning new education techniques and practices that they can implement in their classrooms. Our teachers share the skills and techniques that they learn at the Puerta Abierta with other teachers across the country, strengthening our education system as a whole. Improving education in Guatemala starts with training teachers, and our teachers have a true desire to learn alongside their students and pass what they have learned along to others.