School Faculty and Staff
The majority of our teachers are long-time residents of the community, both Costa Rican and North American. Other teachers come to us from the United States or Canada. We highly value and respect our team members and work hard to create a positive working environment, resulting in a high rate of long-term teacher retention and a stable learning environment in the school. We also have a strong volunteer program. We generally post any job openings in January-April, but we also encourage you to follow us on Facebook and sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter to learn of other opportunities.
Aaron Katz– High School Math
Aaron Katz most recently worked as a professor of mechanical engineering at Utah State University, where he has taught engineering courses and performed research. Prior to Utah State, Aaron worked for NASA, focusing on aerodynamics of helicopters and other aircraft. Aaron received his graduate degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University in California and his Bachelors from Utah State University. Besides the rocket science, Aaron enjoys a number of other interests including outdoor activities, running, ultimate frisbee, baking bread, and hanging out with his wife and three kids.
Carlos Acuña – Spanish and Costa Rican Social Studies
Carlos has been with us for longer than some of the buildings on campus, and is a beloved teacher, poet, cyclist, social activist and friend.
Evan Cantu-Hertzler – Science
Evan Cantu-Hertzler grew up in Philadelphia where he graduated from Germantown Friends School in 2006. He then earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College in 2010 with a major in Biology and a minor in visual art. Following graduation Evan functioned as a substitute teacher and athletic coach for soccer and track at GFS. He then worked at Greene Street Friends School as a teaching assistant in the 6th grade in 2012-2013, and was their teaching assistant in the 7th grade, and part-time Physical Education teacher in 2014-2015. Evan went back to school and earned his Master’s in the Art of Teaching from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014, where he completed a student teaching internship in science at Brashear High School in Pittsburgh. Evan has extensive experience as a youth and varsity soccer coach, in addition to cross-country and track.
Montgomery Ogden – Grades 7-10 Humanities, Grades 7-8 Homeroom
Monty joins MFS with 5 years teaching experience in Philadelphia, at Friends Central and a public school working mostly with Latino families. He has a BA from Amherst in English with a focus on poetry, and a Masters of Secondary Education from U.Penn. Of his teaching philosophy, Monty says “I’m a firm believer in an inquiry-based model of education. Classroom space is co-constructed with students, creating a community of writers who support each other.” Monty studied abroad in Chile, and is an avid ultimate frisbee player – “It was when I coached the women’s ulti team at Amherst that I first learned to teach.”
Pam Holschuch – Grade 9-12 Humanities, 11/12 Homeroom
Pam joins the MFS team after teaching for 4 years at the nearby Creativa. She has an undergrad degree in Sociology and a Masters of Education from the University of Minnesota, with a teaching certificate for grade 6-12 Social Studies. Pam will also work with the Quaker Life initiative, and offer counselling for graduating students (“not just college counseling; I want students to know that all life pursuits are honored.”) Pam also serves on the Religious Education committee for the Monteverde Monthly Meeting of Quakers, and enjoys long walks in the woods with her dog Liko, vegetarian cooking, and “exploring silence.”
Amy Cherwin– Grades 5/6
Amy has been drawn to teaching ever since the days of “playing school” in the garage with her neighborhood friends. A graduate of the education program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Amy feels passionate about helping each student find success. She moved to Monteverde after volunteering here for just two weeks. Seventeen years later, she enjoys life alongside her husband and son (who attends MFS) and feels daily gratitude to be a part of this unique community.
Bethany Elmore – Grades 3/4 Assistant
Bethany has been living in the Monteverde area since 2006. Originally from Georgia, she graduated with a B.S. from Valdosta State University. After graduation she came to the University of Georgia San Luis campus to work as a resident naturalist. She has also been in informal education for many years; leading the Adopt a Stream Program and working as a group coordinator for the Monteverde Institute. She also helps with reforestation activities and educational talks for the Bellbird Biological Corridor. Bethany has been helping at the Friends School since 2012 with English as a Second Language and has been the 3/4 teacher assistant since 2015. She lives with her husband Adan, and two fantastic boys who both attend the Friends School. They love hiking, bird watching, and dancing together.
Christine Cerruti – Grades 3/4
With a BA from University of Delaware and a Masters of Education from University of Pennsylvania, Chrissy first worked for 4 years as a therapist in the Philadelphia public schools, supporting children with trauma and academic/social/behavioral struggles. She then wanted “to combine my love of education with my love of counseling,”, so she moved to Green Street Friends School as a co-teacher in 2nd grade, with a focus on science and social studies. She explains, “Teachers are counselors, showing children how to best be in the world, to be contributing members of society. I love Quaker education because it builds the whole child. How they are as friends as well as students is really important to me.” Chrissy enjoys yoga, cooking and art, and looks forward to hiking and nature in Monteverde.
Marisela López– Spanish and Costa Rican Social Studies
A daughter of two teachers, Marisella naturally loves teaching at MFS, as well bringing her own 3 children to study here. Marisella also studied dance at the National University of Arts and Sciences (“CUNA”), and lists dance, cooking and teaching as her passions.
Adriana Cuevas Acosta– Pre-K, Kindergarten, Preparatoria
Adriana has degrees in Psychology from the Catholic University of Colombia and the University of Costa Rica. She has worked in the clinic psychological care area with children, youth and adults, as well as the organizational, administrative and personnel selection processes. She has lived for six years in Costa Rica. Adriana likes to do design, working with children, music and meditation.
Luz Marina Brenes Pojas– Pre-K, Kindergarten, Preparatoria
A Monteverde native and graduate of the technical college in Santa Elena, Luz took various courses to get her diploma in preschool education. She has 16 years experience as teacher’s assistant in preschool, including an work exchange in Philadephia. This is Luz’s 6th year with MFS. She enjoys art, music, and walking together with her son and two grandchildren.
Melody Guindon– Pre-K, Kindergarten, Preparatoria
A daughter of two of the original Quaker settlers, Melody grew up in Monteverde and graduated from MFS. She began teaching kindergarten and preschool at the school in 1996, but has taught these ages in Monteverde for 25 years. Since earning her Montessori Teaching certification in 2001, she has been heavily influenced by the Montessori philosophy in designing and developing her classroom. Melody and her husband, Rodrigo, have two daughters, both of whom graduated from MFS and live in Costa Rica. Outside of school she enjoys hiking, bird-watching, and spending time in the forest.
Edgar Arce– Physical Education Pre-K – 12
Edgar Arce Lagos is professional Coach Educator (License C), with specializations in women’s football and male children and adolescents. He has been dedicated to training soccer teams of all ages for over four years in the district of Monteverde. In addition to teaching the sport, he has taught art for all ages. His bi-cultural family includes his son Jonah 10, and his wife Carla. Edgar likes football and cycling, enjoys music with his family, and spends as much time as possible outdoors.
Melanie Martin – English Second Language and 1/2 Assistant
Melanie received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota where she studied Spanish, English, and Theater. After serving in AmeriCorps and working as a teaching assistant for ELL students, she attended Bethel University and received her Master of Arts in Teaching while receiving certification in Spanish and English/Communication Arts. She has taught for eight years in International Baccalaureate schools at both middle and high school levels. Outside of teaching, she enjoys singing, salsa dancing, and adores spending time with her two wonderful daughters who currently attend college. She has enjoyed traveling to Central and South America for volunteer service and is absolutely thrilled and blessed to be back in Costa Rica as part of the MFS team!
Laura Gonzalez – SSL (Spanish as Second Language)
When Laura was well into her studies of Economics and Business Administration at the University of Costa Rica, she took a job that helped her discover her real vocation and joy of teaching. For five years she worked for the Regional English Language Officer at the US Embassy in San José, learning a lot about second language teaching and about the amazing job done by ESL teachers all over Latin America. Following this new career path led to a teaching position at the Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano for eight years, at bilingual schools in San José, at the Montgomery Public School System in Maryland, USA, and currently 2 years at the Monteverde Friends School. Laura has studied Second Language Teaching here in Costa Rica and also at the University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she took several courses on linguistics, English language history and literature, and second language teaching methodologies.
PiLi Castro– Integrated Arts
I was born in San José in 1993. My mother language is Spanish and my second language is French. But how come French? At the age of four, I started studying at Lycée Franco Costarricien – the only French school in Costa Rica. I went for three weeks for a school exchange to France and then traveled to Switzerland, where I felt in love with nature. At 17, after discovering new landscapes and creatures, I wanted to be a biologist.
Thanks to my family’s artistic lineage, I ended up exploiting my artistic side. I developed not only visual art skills but others such as playing piano, guitar and drumming. I also consider dancing and movement as an important activity for my daily routine.
I am currently a freelance multi-disciplinary graphic designer whose delivered creative and engaging solutions across brand identity, illustration and photography. When I finished studying my bachelor’s degree in Arts and Visual Communication, I realized that I wanted to go beyond than just being a designer and working for other people. My experience and abilities to interact with children made me decide to begin a new career in art teaching. Now I see myself much more than a graphic designer or an artist: I’m a change agent who has the opportunity to open humans heart and eyes though my knowledge and art.
Rita Vargas Leitón – SSL (Spanish as a Second Language)
Rita has worked at MFS since 2009. She studied basic general education at the university level, and also received several trainings for the teaching of Spanish as a Second Language. Rita speaks Italian, having taken courses in philosophy and spirituality at the International School Mistici Corporis the Focolare Movement, Italy. Rita’s two teenage children study at MFS, a school that she values and treasures. She likes working in the garden, making guava jam, and taking time to share with friends.
Sarah Hagevik – Special Education
A veteran teacher with 10 years teaching special education at all grade levels in Denver, Sarah has a BA and MA in Special Education from Vanderbilt University, plus another Masters as an “Intervention Specialist.” To mix things up, she also taught Pilates for 5 years. She enjoys outdoor hiking, camping, travel, cooking, singing, dancing and music, “but I don’t have a strong talent in any of them.” Sarah has moved here with her husband and two children, who will attend the school in 6th and 9th grades.
Carol Evans– Business Manager
Carol discovered Quakerism in Tucson Arizona in 1977 where she earned her Master’s degree in Atmospheric Science. She has been living with her husband in the San Luis Valley near Monteverde since 1988. They have 2 daughters who attended Monteverde Friends School, and are happy now that their grand-daughter can benefit from the education at MFS. Carol is a member of the Monteverde Monthly Meeting, where she has served in various capacities, including Clerk.
Eugenio Vargas – Office Assistant
Eugenio Vargas grew up in San Luis de Monteverde. In the 70s he was a student at MFS, and three of his five children also attended this school. For over 20 years he has worked in administration of educational organizations including the Monteverde Institute, UGA Costa Rica, and now in MFS. His experience and bilingual skills, combined with the knowledge of local history, have allowed him to play a bridging role between different actors and organizations local and international. In 2014 he joined the team of translators of the book “Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest “. Eugenio enjoys walks in the forest, a good book, and flowers. He has two granddaughters in Montana, a son at the University of Costa Rica, a daughter at Lewis & Clark, and a son who graduated from Earlham College.
Martha Navarro– Janitoress
Marta has been serving the school for many years, and is also the proud mother of a student who graduated from MFS last year.
Rick Juliusson – Co-Director.
Rick brings 25 years experience in non-profit management and co-operative development, fundraising, and international development. Rick served as Executive Director of a Canadian NGO operating 10 primary schools and supporting over 100 post-secondary scholars in Kenya, co-ordinated community development projects in Africa for 7 years with Habitat for Humanity, managed an orphanage in Guatemala, and developed co-operatives in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and . He is a member of the Cowichan Valley Monthly Meeting on Vancouver Island, and happy to be here with his wife (who created this amazing website) and two boys – both enrolled in the school.
Sue Gabrielson– Head of School
Before joining the school last year as our high school Humanities teacher, Sue served as pastor of a Unitarian Universalist church in Maine for 15 years. She has also organized political campaigns, taught classes at the local university and served on many community boards. She has two master’s degrees and is in the process of writing her doctoral thesis. Sue has worked in higher education and has sailed three times in the six-month International Semester at Sea Program. Her daughter Grace is an MFS grad, and Ellie is in 9th grade at our school. She loves reading, walking, biking and other outdoor activities.
Yuri Suárez– Sub-Director of Administration
Yuri is the glue that holds our school together – if it’s important and being done well at the school, she is somehow making it happen. Yuri is also the proud parent of several current or graduated MFS students.