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.
Carlos Acuña – Spanish and Costa Rican Social StudiesCarlos es originario de Cartago, estudió Historia en la UCR y llegó a Monteverde a trabajar para la Escuela Amigos en 1998, donde poco a poco se fue involucrando en algunos proyectos comunales , como educación ambiental, arte – poesía y cine en especial – y promoción del uso de la bicicleta, entre otros. Esto porque considera que el maestro no se debe limitar a permanecer en su aula sino que debe ser un agente de cambio social y cultural en su comunidad. Una de sus metas principales como docente es abrirle muchas ventanas a sus estudiantes, que tengan una perspectiva crítica de lo que acontece en su entorno y en el mundo. Le parece que el cuaquerismo tiene una visión muy progresiva o avanzada, muchas de sus propuestas y formas de ver el mundo son inusuales, difíciles de encontrar en otras religiones o cosmovisiones. En particular su distanciamiento con las jerarquías rígidas, los dogmas, los formalismos o rituales, los nacionalismos , el militarismo y su apertura , su lucha por promover la solución pacífica de los conflictos y su idea de la “revelación permanente”.
Guadalupe Vargas – Spanish and Costa Rican Social StudiesGuadalupe es de Turrialba, Costa Rica, es filóloga española y docente de español egresada de la Universidad de Costa Rica, actualmente estudia la Licenciatura en Administración de la Educación no Formal en la misma universidad. Ha trabajado en la Editorial Estudiantil de la UCR gestando proyectos de publicación literaria, le apasiona la poesía y su escritura, con la cual ha participado en el Festival Internacional de las Artes y la Feria Internacional del Libro; además ama a los perros, le encanta dar clases en Monteverde y cree firmemente en que la educación y el empoderamiento de las distintas voces femeninas pueden cambiar el mundo.
Jeynor Trejos Ramirez – MathematicsJeynor regresó a Monteverde en 2017 después de dejar el área para estudiar Enseñanza de Matemáticas en la Universidad de Costa Rica y cursar una carrera de ingeniería en electrónica. Su estilo de enseñanza es pragmático y se basa tanto en su propia experiencia como en la de los estudiantes. Busca relacionar el entorno real de los estudiantes con aprendizajes y experiencias educativas planificadas. Fuera de la enseñanza, a Jeynor le gusta disfrutar de la naturaleza, pasear en bicicleta, pasar tiempo con su familia, incluidos sus dos perros, y reparar o desarrollar circuitos y dispositivos electrónicos.
Anastasia Shown – Humanities, 11/12 HomeroomAnastasia Shown has spent the last 20 years working in global education and diversity, equity & inclusion. She is passionate about exposing students to global histories, cultures, experiences and beliefs; and focusing on people and perspectives that are less commonly studied. She completed her Bachelor degree at Indiana University and the University of Ghana, majoring in Women’s Studies. She earned her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. Prior to working at MFS, Anastasia led study abroad courses for students and educators in Ghana, Cameroon, and Ethiopia, worked as a lecturer and Assistant Director of African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and consulted for schools and organizations on education and social justice projects. She is slowly learning Spanish and enjoying exploring Costa Rica with her family.
Lewis Steller – Science, 9/10 HomeroomLewis Steller came to Monteverde in 2021 after spending 10 years learning and laughing with students in the science classroom in Seattle, Washington. His work with grades 6-12 centers on the intersections of scientific inquiry, social justice, and play. Lewis earned his M.S. in Science Education from Montana State University in 2018, where his research focused on creating spaces that are welcoming to all students and invite them to bring their full selves into the science classroom. He is also a founding member of the Gender-Inclusive Biology project and has worked on equity-focused curriculum design for National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Outside of work, Lewis loves to quilt, go birdwatching, ride bicycles, practice his Spanish, and try out new fermentation projects.
Lacy Boland – English, 7/8 HomeroomLacey is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she has spent the last ten years teaching English to 7th and 8th grade students. Prior to her work in public charter, progressive, and Quaker school classrooms, Lacey worked as a wilderness instructor and outdoor educator for programs such as Outward Bound and Teen Adventure through the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Camping Program. Lacey loves spending time outdoors with her family: canoeing, hiking, and camping. Other teaching experiences include teaching English to elementary students in Xela, Guatemala and at a university in Qingdao, China. Lacey received her M.A. in English Education from Columbia University Teachers College, and earned her B.A. in English with a minor in Spanish from Earlham College. Lacey, her husband, Ethan, and her children Jude (8) and Solomon (5), are thrilled to join the MFS community!
Sirleny Perez Artavia – Spanish and Costa Rican Social Studies
Sirleny Pérez Artavia, es la maestra de Español y Estudios Sociales en primaria. Originaria de la zona de Monteverde. Estudió Ciencias de la Educación en I y II ciclo en la Universidad Nacional Estatal a Distancia. Tiene dos hijos de 31 y 13 años. Tiene de experiencia 19 años enseñando niveles de primero a séptimo grado de secundaria. Le gusta la interacción con los estudiantes, enseñar y aprender de los niños es su pasión ya que ellos siempre tienen algo nuevo que enseñar. Cree fielmente en la enseñanza por medio de proyectos en donde el estudiante sea el protagonista de su propio aprendizaje. Sirleny disfruta pasar tiempo con su familia, las caminatas en el bosque y leer un buen libro junto con una taza de café.
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. Twenty 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.
Risë Hunter – Grades 3/4
Risë has lived in Monteverde since 2003, she taught at MFS and the Cloud Forest School and served as Assistant Director of MFS. In 2016 she returned to Maryland, US; where she taught preschool age and younger children in three capacities: leading bilingual and baby storytimes for families at two local libraries, teaching Spanish to all students ages two to five at a local preschool where both of her sons attended, and leading Tinkergarten outdoor exploration classes for families at a local park. “My husband, Dario Cuevas and I are thrilled that our family will now be returning to Monteverde and the MFS community after about two-and-a-half years in Maryland. My mother, Beth Edelstein, will now be living with us, and we all look forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones!” Says Risë (2019).
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 began helping at MFS in 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 MFS. They love hiking, bird watching, and dancing together.
Juanita Leiton – Grades 1/2
Juanita was born and raised in Monteverde and is a direct descendant of the original North American Quakers and the original Costa Rican settlers in the nearby valley of San Luis, thus having a good understanding of the two cultures. Juanita and her two siblings graduated from MFS as did also her mother. Juanita has taught for many years at MFS and is also the mother of a student. A beautiful, gentle presence for students and adults alike, we are truly blessed to have Juanita on the team.
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 more than 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.
Luz Marina Brenes Pojas – Pre-K, Kindergarten, Preparatoria Assistant
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 17 years experience as a teacher’s assistant in preschool, including a work exchange in Philadelphia. This is Luz’s 7th year with MFS. She enjoys art, music, and walking together with her son and two grandchildren.
Jacqueline LaVal – Pre-K, Kindergarten, Preparatoria Assistant
Jacqueline Laval was born and raised in the Monteverde Quaker community and attended MFS. The mother of three children, including a current MFS student, Jackie lived in the United States for more than 17 years where she worked as an assistant in her children’s schools. She is happy to be back in her hometown, sharing her Costa Rican roots with her children, and be part of the team at the Monteverde Friends School.
Rita Vargas Leitón – Spanish as a Second Language (SSL)
Rita has worked at MFS since 2009. She studied basic general education at the university level and also completed several trainings to teach Spanish as a Second Language. Rita speaks Italian, having taken courses in philosophy and spirituality at the International School Mystici Corporis at the Focolare Movement, Italy. Rita has two children, one of which is a student 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.
Melanie Martin – English Language (ELL) 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 with certification in Spanish and English/Communication Arts. She taught for eight years in International Baccalaureate schools at both middle and high school levels. Outside of teaching, she enjoys singing, salsa dancing, and 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!
Lauren Snyder – Student Support
After graduating from the University of Maryland in 2004, Lauren Snyder embarked on a career in schools and out of school time programs throughout Maryland and Virginia. She earned her Master’s degree in the Art of Teaching in 2011. Most recently, Lauren lived in Baltimore, Maryland where she learned restorative methods and community building practices that inform her relationships with students. Lauren is very excited to be a part of the MFS community and to learn more about the students and their families. In her downtime, Lauren enjoys reading, dancing, playing video games, and riding her bike.
Coral Peral – Art
Coral grew up in Spain, but has lived in the UK, US, Brazil and, since 2018, in Monteverde. Here she has developed and shared her love for the arts and the community, working as an art teacher and collaborating with local art projects. She is grateful and excited to continue doing so at MFS! Coral doubled majored in Visual arts and Psychology at St. Lawrence University and later earned her Master’s degree in Neuropsychology and Education from Universidad Internacional de La Rioja, where she focused on emotional intelligence, creativity and the impact of the arts on our cognitive development. She has worked as an International Baccalaureate Visual Arts tutor, a curator at international art fairs and a climbing and kayaking instructor. Coral enjoys painting, reading and listening to music, especially if it is outside and in the company of family and friends.
Liza Lewen – Head of School
Liza joined Monteverde Friends School in July 2021. Before joining MFS, Liza was the Acting Head of School for Friends School of Haverford (PA, US), where she also served as the Dean of Students and Middle School English Teacher in her six years there. From 1998-2015, Liza was a faculty member at Friends’ Central School, serving as chair of the English Department and a grade dean, and now serves on their Board of Trustees. Her passion and commitment to Quaker education began during her undergraduate years studying English Literature and Education at Swarthmore College. She earned her Master’s Degree from the Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English. Liza and her family (Sandra, Santiago, and Pablo) are members of Green Street Meeting in Philadelphia. Originally from Clinton, New York, Liza and her family are grateful for the opportunity to spend time in Costa Rica, her wife’s native country. When not at school, Liza is most likely playing with her kids or trying to steal a quiet moment to read, write, sew.
Zaida Villalobos – Business Manager
Zaida is daughter of the first peasants families who arrived in this area and started towns like Cerro Plano and Santa Elena. She graduated from the public school in Santa Elena with a degree in Family and Social Education, and then studied tourism and administration. She has worked in several organizations and in education.” I am eternally grateful to MFS, from where my two sons graduated,” says Zaida.
Eugenio Vargas – Office Assistant
Eugenio Vargas grew up in San Luis de Monteverde. He was a student at MFS in the 1970s, and three of his five children also attended the school. For more than 20 years, he has worked in administration of educational organizations including the Monteverde Institute, UGA Costa Rica, and now at MFS. His experience and bilingual skills, combined with his 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, photography, music, and cooking. 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.