Meet Our Team

The heart of la Puerta Abierta begins with our local staff of fifteen dedicated, enthusiastic and innovative educators, many who have been a part of the Puerta Abierta family for over a decade. 

Juanita Chiviliu - Director

Juanita began volunteering at Puerta Abierta as a high-school student and quickly connected with our programs. In addition to working at La Puerta Abierta, Juanita is a registered psychologist and dreams 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.
Jaunita feels fortunate to work in her community where she can support the formation of young leaders. She believes in using empathy, education and positive energy to generate a movement for a more just and equal world for all.

Amanda Flayer - 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.

Isaias Sisay - 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 backpack. When Isaias visits his schools, the children shout, “Here comes the story teacher!” Isaias is studying psychology and enjoys working with teens. He also produces audio stories for children allowing him to share his talent with a much bigger audience in our community.

Vanessa Petzey - Librarian

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, walk in nature and read. She is also studying psychology at the university.

David Culan - 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 with our students. David is now a father, and we hope that his son will join us at the Puerta Abierta in a few years. David also offers swimming classes in our community.

Isa Chiviliu - English Program Coordinator

Before teaching English at the Puerta Abierta, Isa worked as a preschool and elementary school teacher at our center. She has been studying the English language for over a decade and is the co-founder of the local English Academy, Le-Vási. Isa is also studying forensic law.

Tono Ramirez - Preschool and Computer and Technology Teacher

Tono is a teacher of many talents. During the school day, he teaches computer skills to our students. In the afternoons, he assists Isaias with the traveling library program. In addition, Tono is currently studying mathematics at the university.

Febe Quinillo - Preschool Teacher

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 with a focus on learning disabilities at the university.

Isabel Ajtujal - Preschool Teacher

Isabel is full of creative, fun learning ideas. In addition to teaching preschool, she also coordinates our garden and robotics clubs.

Pedro Ajcabul - Preschool Teacher

Pedro is one of the new teachers at La Puerta Abierta. He loves music, books, jokes, agriculture, and is a member of the puppeteer group Rixwach de Santiago Atitlán. In his free time he plays his guitar, tells stories, designs puppets, and grows tomatoes and chiles.

Chonita Tzina - 1st Grade Teacher

Chonita joined our team at the Puerta Abierta in our first year of existence and has helped shape our literacy programs, preschool classes, early stimulation classes, and the Traveling Library. Three things that bring joy to Chonita are painting, embroidering, and interacting with children.

Ana Mesia - 2nd Grade Teacher

Ana first learned about the Puerta Abierta when she enrolled her son in our preschool. She began collaborating with our programs as a parent volunteer and now she is a lead teacher. 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.

Martin Tzina - 3rd grade teacher

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-wiz and loves to solve our computer complications at La Puerta Abierta. Martin also enjoys teaching STEM activities with our students.

Candelaria Esquina - 4th 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 teen reading circles. Candelaria is studying school administration at the university.

Susana Mendoza - 5th Grade Teacher

Susana is the newest teacher on our team. She studied primary education at the university and loves teaching grammar to her students. Susana is described as friendly, quiet, and eager to learn every day. She likes supporting those in need.

Mari - 6th Grade Teacher

Mari is a graduate of the Maia Impact Program that 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.

Nicolasa Chiyal - Secretary

Nicolasa is our saving grace at the Puerta Abierta. She interacts 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.

"As a Montessori trained teacher, I know that students learn through their hands and that is exactly what is happening every minute of the day in the magic of La Puerta Abierta. Everywhere you turn, learning is happening and, little by little, inspiring this current generation of children to be future agents of change."
Meag Diamond
Founder and owner of Chavito’s Nature School in Tacoma, WA
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