Escuela Adelante developed organically from free English classes based out of the Biblioteca Mobile. Co-founding director Carrie Valladares, an attorney for Microsoft in Seattle, envisioned bringing international education standards to San Juan del Sur in the form of a new type of international school. With program guidance from co-founding director Jamie Hunter, an American teacher and San Juan del Sur resident with a masters degree in education and child development, and the support of a dedicated teaching staff, the program has blossomed into the vibrant bilingual language learning center that it is today.
The program is a 2 year English language course taught in congruence with the ESL course at UPOLI (Universidad Politecnica de Nicaragua) with books sourced from the Oxford University Press. The school is accessible and has a locally tailored fee structure to establish a sense of worth to the program but without prohibiting attendance from any eager local student.
Classes are priced at $1 an hour and $60 a level. Local families pay around $400 over two years for the course and scholarships are offered for low income families. Every aspect has been thoughtfully calculated based on the Directors’ years of teaching experience in Nicaragua.
The course is a supplemental program, meaning that students attend their primary local school in the morning and Escuela Adelante’s as an after school program. There are currently over 40 students enrolled, aged from 6 to 11.
The passion of the teaching staff is mirrored by the enthusiasm of the young language learners. Program Director Jamie Hunter is deeply committed to establishing an inspirational and healthy bilingual learning environment for students in San Juan del Sur. In her own words,
We are committed to honoring the unique needs of each student – whether that means preparing for university or a successful career as an entrepreneur in San Juan del Sur. Escuela Adelante offers a path to success for each student through full time English school, intensive ESL training, or through planned programs such as mobile education.
Spend a little time in the classroom and it’s easy to see why the kids love it. The classroom walls are decorated with colorful learning aids to artistically articulate English grammar such as the differences between prepositions, adjectives, pronouns and conjunctions. Foreign exchange programs visit regularly to offer one-on-one reading and speaking opportunities to put their learning to the test in real life scenarios. And best of all, English songs are regularly sung during class to teach practical vocabulary such as colors, shapes and months of the year.
Click here to listen to a sample song that is sure to put a smile on your face:
How can you help?
1. Make a donation here. Escuela Adelante is currently undergoing a capital raising campaign for much needed student scholarships, classroom supplies and eventually the construction of its very own school house.
2. Sponsor an adult in the language school. To supplement school expenses Escuela Adelante offers an adult business program to teach English to adults employed by tourism based businesses in San Juan del Sur. If you own a business in town or employ a native Spanish speaker interested in learning English, enrolling them Escuela Adelante is an excellent way to support education in the community. Adult education courses cost just $20 per month and can prove to be invaluable in the life of a local aiming to work or start a business in tourism.