FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR
Julie Speier is the founder and director of San Juan del Sur Day School. Before moving to San Juan del Sur, she was the program coordinator of the toddler program at Cincinnati Country Day School where she worked closely with parents and oversaw 3 head teachers, 3 assistant teachers and 36 students. She also taught Pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade while there. During her time at CCDS she was mentored in and used the Constructivist approach to education. She also worked with colleagues to develop and implement a curriculum that is still in use there today.
While at CCDS, Julie also coached the middle school Cross Country and Swim teams. She served on numerous committees including SEED (Seeking Equality through Educational Diversity), Search for the New Head of School, ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) and Growth and Development. She worked closely with the Head of School and the Lower School principals allowing her the opportunity to observe and learn from these gifted leaders.
Prior to her work with CCDS, she lived in Hawaii where she taught second grade ESL at Kalihi Kai Elementary School and developed a love and passion for the ocean and surfing. At Boston University she earned her degree in Early Childhood Education as the recipient of a full swimming scholarship. In addition to her passion for teaching, and love of surfing, Julie is also a certified yoga teacher. Julie has two young daughters with her partner John Crilly.
LEAD TEACHER FOR LOS CHIQUITOS: Preschool
Gina DiPiero joins us from Brooklyn, New York, where she has lived for the past decade. She received a Master’s Degree and dual New York State certification in Early Childhood Special and General Education from Hunter College in New York. Gina brings nine years of experience teaching young children. Her personal teaching philosophy is founded on a firm belief in inquiry-based learning tied to direct sensory experiences. She embraces an emergent, project-based curriculum model, using the children’s own questions and interests to plan meaningful learning experiences while embedding developmentally-appropriate literacy, math, and science activities into curriculum explorations. Above all, Gina maintains a classroom environment where children’s competence is recognized and their thoughts and ideas are respected.
LEAD TEACHER FOR LOS BANANIÑOS: Pre-Kindergarten
Kristy Poteete-Kriegermeier recently moved to San Juan del Sur from Illinois, USA where she served as the Director of Communications for Geneva School District. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Eastern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies from the University of London. Kristy has extensive work experience in the field of bilingual education and enjoys the process of language acquisition. Her goals are to engage students, grow their sense of wonder, and make them excited to learn! Kristy and her husband, Eric, have two daughters who will also be attending San Juan del Sur Day School.
Lisa Moore first joined the San Juan del Sur Day School team in 2014. She hails from Northern Canada, but has been visiting Nicaragua for many years. Lisa has 9 years of experience as an early childhood educator and graduated from Red River College in Winnipeg with a diploma specializing in developmental services. She believes that children learn through play, experiences and from each other. Her classroom is set up in a way that allows your child to arrive and make their own choices about what they want to play with and explore. She uses this center time so that children can learn to work independently, be engaged and also to have a time to interact, learn cooperation and teamwork among their peers.
LEAD TEACHER FOR LOS RAYOS: 1st and 2nd Grade
Jessa Ullom relocated to San Juan del Sur from South Florida in the summer of 2017. While traveling through Central America last year, she fell in love with the beauty and culture of Nicaragua and knew that this was the place she was destined to live. Jessa graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science from the College of Education and is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix. She spent the last year administering reading interventions to multiple small groups for grades K-5. Jessa has a passion for creative learning and is excited to utilize the farm resources un her daily curriculum.
LEAD TEACHER FOR LOS TOROS: 3rd and 4th Grade
LEAD TEACHER FOR LOS MONOS: 5th-7th Grade / CURRICULUM COORDINATOR
Adam Daniel comes to San Juan del Sur Day School from Saskatchewan, Canada. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelors in Education, Adam went on to teach grades 4 thru 6 in both Canada and England. Adam was also a pupil premium teacher, working with individual and small groups of vulnerable students to address personal and social issues. He is an enthusiastic and energetic person with a passion for inquiry based learning, mathematics and writing. He was drawn to San Juan Del Sur Day School because of its rich outdoor education opportunities and school philosophy and he’s excited to use the school’s rich learning environment at Finca Las Nubes as a tool in achieving positive outcomes for our students.
Melba de Soccorro Almador is our teaching assistant with our youngest group, Los Chiquitos. Melba is originally from Northern Nicaragua where she grew up with a large family on a farm in the mountains. She has a naturally sweet, kind and patient demeanour with the children. She is a natural teacher, while playing with the infants and toddlers, she teaches them shapes, colors and numbers while putting away toys. She assists the youngest students and is an expert at distracting or comforting a child who may be crying or upset with having to say good bye to parents in the morning. She has a great smile and uses age appropriate tone and facial expressions when interacting with our youngest students. She is a hardworking, reliable and pleasant presence to have at the school.
Yolanda Rodriguez is our Teaching Assistant to Los Bananiños (pre-k program). Yolanda has been with the school since its inception in early 2009. She began working in the kitchen, preparing healthy snacks and meals for the students, but it quickly became evident that she had the perfect demeanor to work with children. As a result, she began taking English and computer classes in nearby Rivas and is working towards obtaining her teaching certificate in early childhood education. She is also attending training workshops in the Montessori approach to education. On any given day, Yolanda can be found reading books with the Banananiños, teaching a Spanish lesson to the Tigres, singing songs at circle time, and more! Yolanda has a wonderfully playful hands-on approach to education and our students adore her!
Ivy Rodriguez Valenzuela
Originally from Costa Rica, Ivy Rodriguez Valenzuela relocated to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua in the spring of 2017. Though she began her career in the field of advertising, Ivy was always drawn to working with children. Pursuing her dreams, she switched careers started working with Caribe Azul, an international school located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Since then Ivy has collaborated in many workshops designed for children with focus on art, music, theater and recycling. She has a warm and patient demeanor and connects easily with children of all ages! In addition to assisting Los Tigres, Ivy will also be the morning bus monitor.
Oscar Guevara, teaching assistant to Los Rayos, was born and raised just outside of Rivas in a small town called Buenos Aires. He has been playing music since the age of 6 and previously worked as a music teacher at Nuestra Señora de Fatima school in Rivas. Oscar also worked as a sub electrical station operator for the national electric company. In his role at San Juan del Sur Day School, Oscar assists the lead Rayos teacher, offering instruction in Spanish, music, and history.
David Torrez Pineda joined The Day School in January 2017 in the role of Assistant Teacher to Los Toros (grades 3-4). In addition to helping lead teacher, Carly Caprio with all subjects, David also provides Spanish language instruction and teaches Nicaraguan history and culture. Prior to coming to San Juan, David worked for 5 years as a teacher at Colegio Fatima in Rivas. David graduated from UNAN Managua with a degree in International Relations, Diplomacy and Political Science and then went on to study Law at Huispam University in Rivas. He is also completing his final English course at the Anunciata University in Rivas and working to obtain a bachelor’s degree in English. David also holds a blackbelt in Karate and has been instructing students during their enrichment hour. Experience aside, David is a tremendous positive influence with our students. He inspires confidence, creativity and kindness in each and every child with whom he works. We are thrilled to have David join the Day School family!
Roxana Jimenez Jacamo is our experienced chef who joined the San Juan del Sur Day School team in 2016. Prior to working for the school, Roxana prepared delicious meals for Wrap ‘n Roll, a popular San Juan restaurant featuring healthy and fresh ingredients sourced from local farms. She brings her experience with her to San Juan del Sur Day School, preparing inspiring and creative meals and snacks for our students. She enjoys cooking Asian-inspired dishes and finding new and different ways to encourage kids to be healthy eaters.
HEAD OF MAINTENANCE & GROUNDS
Mario is a native San Juaneno. Mario is the friendly face that greets our parents and children at drop off and pick up each day. He has a kind and gentle disposition and is a wonderful presence for the children. He maintains the property and uses natural materials to teach the children simple shelter building techniques which result in great play spaces for the students. Victor is hardworking, trustworthy and responsible, we are happy to have him as part of our staff.
Sayonara Valle Calderon
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
Sarah Fahey joined the San Juan del Sur Day School as Director of Development in 2012, assisting Director Julie Speier with social media, enrollment, and administrative duties. Prior to moving abroad, Sarah earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in early childhood development from Skidmore College. She worked for 6 years in public television helping to produce such children’s shows as Arthur, Time Warp Trio, and Curious George. She then went on to obtain her master’s degree in school counseling from Boston University and worked as a school counselor for two years at the Fay School and also as a case manager in a homeless shelter for pregnant and parenting teens. She has two children who both attend San Juan del Sur Day School.