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Mi Casita Montessori

Location: Quetzaltenango (“Xela”),  Guatemala

Website: www.micasitamontessori.wordpress.com
Program Established: January 2012
# of Children: 6 Ages Served: 2.5-3.5
Immediate Needs:
  1. Donations to support the operating costs of the school.
  2. Scholarship funds so that we can serve more children in the community. $1000 will allow one child to engage in this beautifully prepared environment at Mi Casita for a full school year. Please consider how you or your school can help.
  3. Trained volunteers who are willing to commit to at least one year assisting the program.
  4. Sponsorships for AMI training of more teachers so the program can expand at both the primary and elementary levels.
Volunteer Support: Yes
Contact Person: Shirley Lopez Yancor or Zil Jaeger
Contact Information: ziljaeger@gmail.com
Mi Casita Montessori is a project at its inception, driven by the passion and dedication of Shirley Lopez Yancor, a Guatemalan Montessori primary directress. Mi Casita Montessori’s vision is to support the unique development of each child as they become inspired, life-long learners capable of realizing positive change in their society. The school is located in the mountainous highlands in Guatemala’s second largest city, Quetzaltenango or “Xela”. Mi Casita Montessori is the first Montessori program in the city led by an AMI trained teacher. The school opened in January 2012 with six 2.5-3.5 year old children, and the plan is to grow each year until it serves a community of thirty 3-6 year olds.

Guatemala’s long history of violence and entrenched poverty means that education, particularly early-childhood education, is unavailable to many children there. The programs that do exist often lack materials, properly trained teachers, and opportunities for children to become inspired by learning. Working under the guidelines of AMI, Mi Casita Montessori has created a safe, nurturing environment where each child is supported on his or her path to intellectual, physical and social development. More importantly, Mi Casita holds a vision of fostering peace by offering children with the tools to interact with one another with grace and respect. The school wishes to actively heal the scars left by years of civil war and political violence.

Further, Mi Casita aims to address the socioeconomic disparities evident in Xela. There is a large indigenous Mayan population in Xela who, due to a long history of racism and economic displacement, have been underserved by educational programs. Prior to Spanish colonization, the Quiche and Mam Mayans were the original inhabitants Xela. Today, over 60% of the city’s population is made up of Quiche and Mam families who are by and large economically marginalized.

The school is located adjacent to Shirley Yancor’s family home in the La Esperanza Municipality of Xela which borders a low-income rural community and a middle-class urban community. What was once an old basketball court is now transformed into a Montessori classroom overlooking a small orchard and garden. Currently in its first enrollment phase, the school holds monthly conferences in various locations in the Xela community about the Montessori philosophy and method. Because most of the children enrolling in the school come from families where both parents work, Mi Casita will be a positive alternative to daycare. Mi Casita's environment will allow students to follow their interests and will guide each individual towards developing a deep and lasting love for learning.

Mi Casita is dedicated to bringing together children from diverse backgrounds to foster collaboration and address the social inequities apparent in Xela. Through a developing scholarship program, we aim to eventually provide no-cost schooling to one-third of the families entering the school. Furthermore, Mi Casita is actively seeking out families from diverse backgrounds to enroll at the school. In a place where quality early childhood education is limited, the need for this program is great. Mi Casita Montessori endeavors to meet this need by providing an educational foundation for peace, community, and the tools for children to become life-long learners. Your support to make this dream a reality would be much appreciated.

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