Mi Casita Montessori is located in La Esperanza Municipality of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala just fifteen minutes by bus from the city center. This location places the school on the border between the rural and urban sectors of the city, making it accessible to children from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, many of whom live in poverty and have limited access to educational programs.
In the 2013 school year, Mi Casita has a thriving community of 18 2.5-6 year old children. We continue to accept mid-year entries, and look forward to the school’s continued growth.
The classroom is located adjacent to Shirley Yancor’s family home in La Esperanza. Originally a basketball court, Mi Casita Montessori has been beautifully renovated into an ideal Montessori classroom environment. Indoors, the space offers the full compliment of Montessori materials, a kitchen and a water supply. The classroom has child-sized tables, chairs and low, easily-accessible shelves, which allow the children to move independently and freely choose materials to work with as they engage in their learning environment. Outside, there is an outdoor garden, hen house, patio and yard area. The children delight in gathering the chicken’s eggs as part of their exercises of practical life, caring for the plants in their garden and playing group games in the yard.
School Director and Lead Guide:
Shirley Yancor was born and raised in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. In 2007 she graduated from the Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Following her graduation Shirley has worked for several non-profit clinics as a counselor for children who struggle with learning disabilities or who are coping with trauma from physical or sexual abuse. In 2010 Shirley received her AMI primary diploma from the Fundación Argentina María Montessori in association with the Montessori Institute of San Diego where she trained under Dr. Silvia Dubovoy and Cristina de Leon. She currently lives in La Esperanza municipality of Quetzaltenango and is the city’s first AMI directress.
English Language Instruction and Classroom Assistant:
Maggie Paulin, co-founder, will begin as the school’s English speaking assistant in June 2013. Second language learning in Montessori Casas occurs through total immersion and natural encounters with the language. The assistant/English instructor´s role is to infuse the environment with English so the children absorb the vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, etc… naturally.
Administrative Board Members:
Erika Graciela Ávila is currently the director of the Otoch Paal Montessori School in Akumal, Quintana Roo, México. She is an important resource and an advisor for Mi Casita Montessori.
Katrien Peirs is an established member of the non-profit community in Quetzaltenango and friend of Shirley Yancor.
Carlos Román a community member and friend of Shirley Yancor, is in charge of coordinating the transportation system for MCM. He is also involved with the production of classroom materials.
Maggie Paulin, co-founder, is currently an undergraduate student at Oberlin College. Once a Montessori student herself, she has been integral in connecting MCM with U.S. based non-profit SEPA, as well as securing the Kathryn Davis Grant for the school.
Zil Jaeger is an AMI teacher and a co-founder of Mi Casita Montessori. She met Shirley as a Spanish student in Xela in 2006. She has worked since then to support Shirley’s AMI training and the growth of MCM.