Mark Twain once said, “Don’t let your boy’s schooling interfere with his education.” At San Juan del Sur Day School, the world is the classroom and the education is inspired by all elements of nature, culture, current events and real life experience.
The mission statement for the school is a simple but powerful one; “To develop inquiring, knowledgeable and compassionate young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through understanding and respect.” Julie Speier, the school’s founding director, and her bi-lingual teaching staff are deeply dedicated to this mission and their enthusiasm for education is mirrored by the visible excitement of the students who attend.
I was recently fortunate enough to listen in on a school staff meeting with the hope of gaining a better understanding of the school’s anatomy and philosophy. The meeting unconventionally took place directly on the sandy beach of San Juan del Sur’s famously beautiful crescent bay. The most distinguishing factor of the meeting, other than the unusual meeting place, was that all the teachers wanted to be there.
With smiles on their faces and sand on their feet, I listened to them enthusiastically voice their ideas for future classroom lessons and field-trips. The primary discussion point of the day revolved around a field-trip to a women’s recycled art project in Astillero in partnership with Comunidad Connect, a local NGO. The students will collect plastic bags to recycle, travel to a community off the beaten tourist path, and interact with the local women in the co-op to learn how to transform waste into art.
The Astillero field-trip is representative of the “Curriculum of Sustainability” on which the day school is founded. Teachers form their daily lesson plans in response to actual events and the practical needs of the children. The daily schedule is guided by the teachers to ensure learning. School subjects range from math and science to yoga and surfing.
Julie Speier is the founder, director, and head teacher of San Juan del Sur Day School. Her background is as impressively diverse as the curriculum of the school. She was born in Germany but grew up in the United States. She swam competitively on scholarship at Boston University and is lifeguard and CPR certified. She was a primary school teacher and the director of the toddler program at the Cincinnati Country Day School for 7 years before relocating her two daughters and husband to Nicaragua. Her teaching staff currently consists of teachers from Nicaragua, Holland, Ireland and the United States.
The San Juan del Sur Day School was founded in 2009 as a preschool for children ages 2 to 4 years in an effort to simply service the needs of a growing ex-pat community of children in the area. Over the years, the school has grown to a staggering number of 48 children enrolled with 5 more additions expected by the end of the year. The class levels currently service a range of ages from toddler to 3rd grade based upon an American school system. The intention of the school is to grow with the communities need for a international higher education, therefore as the students get older, the school will offer higher grade levels. In line with the philosophy of sustainability, the school also offers financial scholarships for students in need.
If you and your family are considering relocation to San Juan del Sur and are concerned about the education of your children, one visit to the day school is certain to put your worries to rest. It’s the type of school that inspires faith in humanity and makes you want to be a kid all over again.
The school is located one block off the main beach of San Juan del Sur in a community called La Talanguera. The school operates year round and the class schedule is 8am – 4pm daily. The monthly tuition for a full 5 day schedule is $275 per month per child. Also see this article on the school’s scholarship program. For more detailed information on the school, visit the website.