Stacey Dunbar is a certified elementary educator and English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor. She received her BS in Early Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught pre-kindergarten, first and second grade students for five years. During her time as a teacher, she developed a Spanish immersion program in her classroom where all students learned to read, write and speak in both English and Spanish. Her success developing a Spanish immersion program led her to begin an educational consulting business where she trained numerous school districts to develop or improve their Spanish immersion, bilingual or ESL programs. She is now the proud mother of two boys and is thrilled that her sons have been a part of the Aprende con Amigos family.
Through her experiences as a teacher and consultant, Stacey Alonso observed first-hand how children learn differently, have individual interests and excel in different areas. Therefore, she believes the educational approach at Aprende con Amigos should directly reflect, support, and implement a variety of philosophies, methods and strategies to meet the needs, interests and abilities of all students. Applying one philosophy or approach limits the ability to provide a well-balanced learning environment that meets the strengths and needs of all of its children.
Monica Montiel graduated from Portland State’s program with a 4.0 and her Master’s degree in Elementary Education Curriculum and Instruction. She taught for two years in Lake Oswego and then moved to Arizona to teach in a low-income school in Phoenix. The majority of her students spoke Spanish as their first language and most of their parents did not speak any English. Monica loved her years of teaching there and the opportunity to use the Spanish that she learned from her husband, who is from Mexico, to communicate with the parents. She held conferences and wrote notes home in Spanish, and translated conferences for other teachers.
After becoming a mom, she decided to only work part-time. She taught Spanish classes in an after-school program and taught English as a second language to adults and children. Then, she took a position at a private school in the Scottsdale area teaching Spanish to Early Childhood, Kindergarten, and First Grade students. She loved sharing her love of the Spanish language and culture with the children.
Upon returning to Portland in 2010, Monica and her husband were elated to find Aprende con Amigos. The dual-language preschool was a perfect fit for their bi-cultural, bilingual family both personally and professionally. Her two older sons are now Aprende alumni and Monica continues to work part-time balancing her career with being a mom to her three boys. This is Monica’s seventh year at Aprende. She is the Assistant Director for the Interstate site.
Natalie Galvan is a native of far northern California but decided that summers as hot as 117 degrees were unbearable. Natalie and her husband moved to Portland several years ago and they have found life (and the weather) to be much more enjoyable!
Natalie loves everything involved with learning languages. She is passionate about spreading that love to her family, friends and the Aprende con Amigos school family. She believes, to successfully learn a new language, one has to become familiar with the people who speak it, the food they eat, the literature they read, the geography in which they live, and their history. She feels that second language acquisition is a window to the world that expands larger and larger when the language learner becomes familiar with the corresponding culture. She loves being around preschool children and is excited to share her passion of languages with the students of Aprende con Amigos!
In 2009, she earned her BA in linguistics and a minor in Spanish from the University of California, Los Angeles. She’s been lucky to have international experiences in South America where she attended La Universidad de Chile as a foreign exchange student and taught English to children at the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano in Chiclayo, Peru. Natalie is excited to start a Masters program in speech language pathology with a bilingual concentration at Portland State in the fall!
Whitney McCool was born and raised in sunny California, and moved to Oregon her senior year of high school. She married her husband, Kelly in 2007, and has two boys, Kaleb and Ryan. Whitney obtained her Associates Degree in Child and Family studies with certifications in Early Literacy, and Working with families in 2011. They decided to move to Portland so her husband could attend Culinary school, and he now works as a Chef. Whitney truly loves Portland and all the diversity and activities it has to offer.
Whitney’s true passion is working with children and families, but in her free time she loves having fun with her family. Whitney loves to do fun things and sees herself as a fun person, which carries over to her teaching as well. We are thrilled to have Whitney as part of the team and as well as her son Ryan who is currently in the Caballito group!
Cecilia Rodriguez earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary School Education from Benemérita y Centenaria Escuela Normal del Estado de Chihuahua (ByCENECH) in 2008 while living in Chihuahua, Mexico. She taught in Chihuahua as an elementary school teacher for three years before moving to the United States. In the States, she has worked as an assistant teacher at A Child’s Path and an instructor at Tierra Education Center where she teaches Spanish for adults.
Cecilia is excited about working at Aprende and having the opportunity to merge her experience with teaching preschoolers along with her experience of teaching Spanish into one! Her favorite subject is math and she is thrilled to return for her second year as the math/science teacher.
Laura Ramirez was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She majored in Spanish with a minor in humanities, and received her bachelor’s degree in 2015 from Western Oregon University. She loves being part of her community and having the tools to make it better. One of those tools was lobbying at the capitol as a multicultural advocate. But overall what she is most passionate about is language. Its important to her that students learn a second language at a early age. She believes that the more people are able to communicate the more communities will succeed.
Laura’s parents are immigrants from El Salvador. She was always sent for a fair amount of time since the age of 4 to stay with her grandparent. Laura built relationship with the people from the same town her parents grew up in and although the country is known to be in a difficult place she loves it and continues to visit.
Laura is excited to be with all the students and faculty from Aprende. They inspire her to further her career in education and has become attached to seeing how much the students learn to communicate in a second language.
“Tuly” Gertrudis Novoa Garcia
Tuly Novoa is a licensed preschool teacher from Venezuela with extensive experience in early childhood education. She has worked with children in various capacities such as summer camps, in-home child care, tutoring and Spanish immersion programs. As a mother of three, she believes that the most important gift a parent can give to their children is an education. Tuly and her husband have focused on teaching the joy of education and the importance of bilingualism. She is passionate about working with children and enjoys seeing how they progress every day. She is excited to get to know the families of Aprende con Amigos and looks forward to sharing the best of herself with them. We’re happy to have her as our Mamá Teacher for the Caballito group!
Bertha Bueno Gonzalez
As a native Spanish speaker from Colima, Mexico, Bertha feels strongly about teaching her children to be fluent in both English and Spanish. She is proud that her three beautiful children are involved in the Spanish immersion program at Beach Elementary School. From personal experience, she understands that learning a second language is a huge plus and she is happy to be a part of other children’s Spanish language learning. Bertha joins our preschool community with over a hundred volunteer hours from a local Head Start program and is a certified teacher’s assistant. We look forward to a great school year with Bertha as our morning floater and afternoon teacher!
Sonia Moreno was born in Mexico City. She grew up in California and attended bilingual schools there which helped her maintain fluency in both Spanish and English. She is currently earning her Child Development Associate credential and completing her hours of child service here at Aprende. Sonia is fascinated by learning more about how children’s brains function and their amazing imaginations. Her future goals include continued study to become a child psychologist or counselor. In her free time, Sonia enjoys the natural beauty of Oregon, hiking, bowling, salsa dancing and trying different restaurants. We love having Sonia be part of our preschool community!
Kari Hatlestad is a passionate traveler with a love for food, painting, and biking. She’s originally from Bend and moved to Portland in the fall of 2013. Currently, Kari is working hard to finish her undergraduate degree at Portland State studying International Development with an emphasis in Latin America. She was inspired by high school youth group trips to Nicaragua that lead her to start a club, “Nica Connect” where they raised money by selling pulseras made by children in orphanages. Her passion for intercultural relations grew as she wanted to build roots in other countries.
In her second year of college, Kari took a bike/farming trip with her sister starting in Bariloche, Argentina to Santiago, Chile. The two biked through deserts, coasts, and mountains. Along the way, she was studying sustainable agriculture on different farms through Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. The majority of her ability to speak Spanish came from learning plant varietals and farming techniques. Her Spanish grew even stronger while at the Andres Bello University in Santiago, Chile. She returned back to the States to complete her last year of school and senior thesis on the social and cultural origins of Peruvian food. Kari will be graduating March of 2017!
On the daily, Kari likes to ride my bike, paint her thoughts, concerns, or passions, and go on trips to the beach or hidden hiking trails. Moving forward, she would like to travel to more regions of the world and learn about further sustainable farming practices along with living among new cultures with concepts of being and listening with the people.
Carmen Faria is originally from Venezuela but is happy to call Portland home! She enjoys exploring the local area with her husband and two daughters. Carmen believes in the value of bilingualism not only for success in education but to maintain communication with older generations. She is raising her children to be bilingual because she knows it’s important for them to be able to communicate with family members in Venezuela. Carmen comes to Aprende with years of experience providing in-home child care services. Thanks to her warm and caring demeanor, we feel like Carmen is the perfect fit to be the Pollito Mama teacher at our preschool! We’re so happy to have her as a member of our preschool family!
Andrea Teske is excited to be teaching as a part of the Aprende con Amigos team. She is a licensed educator in both Washington and Oregon with specializations in elementary education, Spanish Language, and Music. She received her BA in Spanish Literature and Music from the University of Notre Dame and her Master's in Teaching from the University of Portland. Andrea has been teaching for seven years in elementary Spanish settings. Andrea believes that it takes a village to properly educate students, and loves that there are many supportive staff members here at ACA creating a quality, research-based educational environment.
Last year, Andrea spent the year teaching Kindergarten English immersion in Managua, Nicaragua. She loved living abroad with her now fiance and had the opportunity to travel extensively. Together, they traveled to Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, and all around Nicaragua. Andrea has also spent time in Spain and Argentina, and studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. She has always loved Latino culture and art and loves to incorporate what she has seen in these different places into her teaching. To really know a culture, it is imperative to know the language, and she thinks you are providing your children with a fantastic opportunity by having them learn Spanish at the pre-school age.
Teresa Hernandez-Claudio is California born, but Oregon raised. Teresa’s parents are from Baja California, Mexico. She’s the oldest of her siblings. She is a native Spanish speaker, Spanish was her first language until she started grade school.
Teresa has worked with kids for about nine years, when she first started working with kids she realized how amazing their little brains work and just how great it is to watch them learn and develop, she also loves to make kids feel loved and happy at school.
Teresa has 2 kids of her own with her high school sweet heart, Alexa 8 and Malik 7. Her household is a Spanish speaking home with some English since sadly there is no immersion programs in their district.
When she first started working at Aprende she started off as Floater supporting the teachers and serving snack to the children, she later became the Pollito Teacher. A year later she decided the floating position was best for her schedule. While she was Floater she supported the teachers the most she could and she was able to work with all the kids, which was what she loved the most. Now she’s assistant director the new location, She continues to support our teachers at Irvington and make our children feel happy and welcome to our school family. Teresa is happy to be part of the Aprende family, She’s grown and have learned so much as a teacher, person, and a parent in the wonderful Aprende community.
Norma Moreno was born in Mexico and has fond memories from growing up there. After high school, she entered Bachillerato Pedagogico, where she first started her path towards working in educational services. For five years, she worked as a preschool teacher in Mexico. Years later, Norma moved to the US with her husband Fernando and her eldest son Fernando. She enjoyed spending time as a volunteer in her son’s classroom and wanted to continue studying to work towards a career in education. After having her second son named Yari, Norma enrolled at Mt Hood Community College to take English courses and work towards earning her Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate. She applied at head start where she worked as a part time assistant for five years and then worked five more years as a full time assistant teacher. She enjoyed the 10 years she worked at the Head start program.
In addition to teaching, Norma is very involved in her community. She’s graduated as a parish health promoter in a leadership program and works to help support other Latinos in her community.
She enjoys being part of the Aprende community where she happily teaches in her first language. We’re glad to have Norma join the team and pleased to see the passion she has for working with preschool children!
Claudia Moreno was born in Pachuca, Hidalgo Mexico and has been living in the Portland area for many years now. In Mexico, she worked for seven years at the Centro Educative Infantile where she completed director’s duties and assisted teachers in the classroom. Upon moving to the United States, she earned valuable experience working at the Mt. Hood Community College Head Start program. She loves working with preschool children and believes it’s one of the most important times of their school life. She especially enjoys seeing their surprised faces when conducting classroom science experiments. Claudia is fascinated by the day to day progress children show in math class. She is continually amazed by the learning ability of preschoolers. She believes preschool is time for exploration and the perfect age to plant the seeds of learning! We are happy to have Claudia as a member of our faculty!
Brenda De La Torre
Brenda De La Torre is from the state of Guanajuato in Mexico. She’s from a large family of 9, including mom and dad. At the age of eleven, her dad decided to move the family to the United States. Brenda has been living in Portland for 24 years now. She went to H.B. Lee Middle School and Reynolds High School and graduated with the class of 2000. She’s a happily married wife with 2 lovely boys.
Growing up, Brenda’s parents emphasized the importance of speaking Spanish at home. Thanks to their encouragement, Brenda can speak and write with proficiency in Spanish and encourages her children to do the same.
For seven years, Brenda has worked as an assistant teacher for Head Start. She received her CDA credential in 2014. It is Brenda’s passion to work with children and families. She believes that children have an immense capacity to learn and it makes her happy to teach them every day. Brenda is so excited to become part of the Aprende con Amigos community and to teach the children in my native language Spanish!