While many people know about UPAVIM's elementary school, they might not realize it is a Montessori-based system. We invited UCDF Board member and Education Advisor, Veronica Burbano, to share her story of how and why she became involved in the Montessori method.
"I think all children should have access to this wonderful method, but with even more urgency, the ones living in vulnerable communities like the ones in La Esperanza."
Veronica moved to the US from Ecuador with her husband in 2003 when her daughter was just a year old. While her husband was in University, Veronica stayed home to take care of their daughter. During that time, Veronica became fascinated by her daughter's learning process and started researching about early childhood development. Soon after, she had the opportunity to work as an assistant at a Children's Center at the nearby University. Back in Ecuador, her career had focused on marketing and business, but with this new job something clicked inside and she had an aha moment, saying "that's where I'm supposed to be, working in Childhood Development!".
Veronica went on to earn a master’s in Early Childhood Development. Several years later, she found herself teaching Spanish in a Montessori elementary school. At the time, she did not use Montessori teaching methods in her classroom but with the encouragement of the school Director and some training, she began to implement the Montessori method in her classes. And much to her surprise, she found the class to be easier to manage, the children more engaged, and had more satisfying teaching experiences. And so, began her love-affair with Montessori! Veronica became a certified Montessori teacher, kick-started a bilingual Montessori program, and after many successful years as a teacher, began a 3-year training program in order to become a Montessori teacher trainer herself.
Veronica has had the unique position of working in both traditional educational settings as well as Montessori and, without a doubt, she finds Montessori to be superior. Within Montessori classes, she says that there is a social cohesion that the children develop that is accompanied by kindness, empathy, and respect for others. Additionally, the academic achievements they make compared to children in traditional settings are outstanding. This method involves following the child's developmental needs and interests utilizing materials that have been scientifically proven for over 100 years.
Several years ago, Veronica had the opportunity to visit a Montessori non-profit school in her home country of Ecuador. The school served primarily poor vulnerable populations and was doing amazing work! She decided then and there, that that would be her personal mission saying,
"I want to help vulnerable populations in Spanish-speaking countries gain access to Montessori education, to open training centers in Latin America... so that Montessori education is available to all children, not just the wealthy."
When she heard about UPAVIM's Montessori school in Guatemala City, she knew she wanted to be involved as a Board member with the organization. She has big dreams for the UPAVIM school "I would love to host professional development for the elementary teachers and send them to get Montessori certified".
UCDF thanks Veronica for all her dedication and hard work supporting the UPAVIM school and looks forward to growing the school together!