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 has been with us for longer than some of the buildings on campus, and is a beloved teacher, poet, cyclist, social activist and friend.
Jeynor Trejos Ramirez – MathematicsJeynor returned to Monteverde in 2017 after leaving the area to study Teaching Mathematics at the University of Costa Rica. He earned his Bachelor’s degree and is now working toward an advanced degree through UNED. His style of teaching is pragmatic and is based on both his own experience and that of the students. He seeks to relate the real environment of the students with learning and planned educational experiences. Outside of teaching, Jeynor likes to enjoy nature, spend time with his family including his two dogs, and repair or develop circuits and electronic devices.
Pam Holschuh – Humanities, 11/12 HomeroomPam joined the MFS team last year after teaching for four 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 also works with the Quaker Life initiative and offers 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.”
Laura Nikstad – Science, 9/10 HomeroomOriginally from Wisconsin, Laura has been teaching high school science in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas for the past 13 years. She holds an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in Chemistry from Purdue University. Laura explains that student-centered inquiry is at the heart of her teaching practice.
Daniel Tyx – English, 7/8 HomeroomDaniel has spent the last five years working as a freelance journalist reporting on social justice and the environment along the U.S.-Mexico border. Prior to that, he taught literature and writing at South Texas College, where his classes included many dual-enrollment high school students. A native of Ohio and Iowa, he has an undergraduate degree in Spanish from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing degree from Purdue University. "These positions have helped me continue to connect with children and their families, the Spanish language and outdoor education," says Daniel. Daniel believes that every student has compelling and important stories to tell, and his teaching philosophy is rooted in the values of openness, reflection, risk-taking, and revision.
Marisela López – Spanish and Costa Rican Social Studies
A daughter of two teachers, Marisela naturally loves teaching at MFS. Her oldest child graduated from MFS, and her two younger children are currently MFS students. Marisela studied dance at the National University of Arts and Sciences ("CUNA"), and lists dance, cooking and teaching as her passions.
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, studied at the Monteverde Friends School, has taught here for many years, and is also the mother of a student. A beautiful, gentle presence for students and adults alike, we are richly blessed to have Juanita on our 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 Mistici 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 Second Language (ESL) 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!
Maggie Fatovic – Special Education
Maggie comes to Monteverde from Washington, DC, having grown up in several places in the US and in London. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Master’s degree in special education with a specialty in learning disabilities from the University of Virginia. She has taught at various charter schools in Washington, DC, and believes “all children should have opportunities to feel successful at school.” A competitive rower for many years, Maggie loves to hike and be in nature.
Edda Pacheco Oreamuno – Art
Originally from San Jose, Costa Rica, Edda has lived in Monteverde for nine years with her two kids, Luna and Javi, who are students at the MFS. Edda loves working with kids and is all about being creative and having fun. She believes every person is creative in his or her own way, it’s just a matter of believing and enjoying. She finds fulfillment by giving children the support and wings they need in order to be secure, creative, and expressive beings.
Edgar Arce – Physical Education Pre-K – 12
Edgar Arce Lagos is professional Coach Educator (License C), with specializations in soccer for women, male children and adolescents. He has been dedicated to training soccer teams of all ages for more than five 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, a student at MFS, and his wife Carla. Edgar likes football and cycling, enjoys music with his family, and spends as much time as possible outdoors.
Sue Gabrielson – Head of School
Sue has been the Head of School at MFS since 2017. Before joining the school in 2016 as our high school Humanities teacher, Rev. Sue (as she was affectionately called after becoming an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister) served as pastor of a UU church in Maine for 15 years. She has also organized political campaigns for same-sex marriage, healthcare as a human right and climate change, she has taught classes at universities, and served on many community boards. She has two master's degrees, one in Adult Education and one in Divinity and is ABD in a PhD program. Sue has worked in higher education administration and sailed three times on the Semester at Sea Program. She has two daughters: Grace is an MFS graduate who is now living in Chirripo, and Ellie who is in 12th grade at the school. Sue loves reading, playing pool, walking, biking and other outdoor activities.
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.