The heart and soul of La Puerta Abierta begins with our local staff of eight 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.
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 preschool, Isa also teaches English at our center. She is bi-lingual and aspires to open a language school in Santiago in the future. Isa likes drawing, singing, taking pictures, and is passionate about being a teacher.
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.
Candelaria–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 teacher at our center with a focus on kindergarten. In addition to working at La Puerta Abierta, she also coordinates the Natik scholarship program and mentors a group of 30 local high-school students. Three things that make Candelaria happy are bead work, teaching children, and her family.
Isaias–Traveling Library Coordinator
Isaias visits eight 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 brings 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 enjoys dancing, photography, and eating spaghetti with salad.
Ana–1st 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 a pre-school teacher at our center. In the past, Ana has worked with the Traveling Library and has been a reading promoter in our community. Ana enjoys reading children’s books, cooking, and aerobic dancing.