LAIRD MACDONALD / (Head of School)
Laird MacDonald grew up in Lompoc, California, surrounded by an extended family of teachers. At the University of California Santa Barbara, he earned a B.S. in Aquatic Biology. Upon graduation he worked for the UCSB Marine Science Institute for four years on research projects that included ice diving in Antarctica to study krill, and diving around offshore oil platforms to study fish. After hanging up the wetsuit, Laird earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Administration from Deakin University.
For the last 15 years, he has worked as a teacher and administrator at top international schools around world. The countries he has taught in include the United States, Philippines, China, Venezuela and now Costa Rica. He has worked as an International Baccalaureate teacher and program coordinator. His philosophy of education is informed by the skills and attributes students will need to be successful in the future.
Laird has a son and daughter attending Del Mar Academy, and feels very lucky to raise them in this diverse and vibrant international community. When not at work, Laird can be found spending time with his family or re-kindling his childhood passion for surfing.
VERENA CASTRO / (Vice-principal)
Verena Castro joined the DMA staff for the 2013-2014 school year. She came from McAuliffe Regional Charter School in Boston, Massachusetts, where she worked for 10 years. Mrs. Castro started teaching both the regular and fast-paced Spanish classes before becoming part of the administration team in her role as World Language Coordinator, Keeper of Culture, and Dean of Students. She also worked as an adviser for different schools in the Boston area.
A native of Costa Rica, Mrs. Castro received an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a bachelor’s in Special Education from the National University in Costa Rica. Her master’s degree is in educational psychology from the University of La Salle. She has worked in the educational field for more than eighteen years. She first worked in Costa Rican public and private schools. In addition, she is the owner of Pedagogical Consultant Services, a business created to support teachers, parents, or/and school administrators on effective educational methods and school culture improvement. She has given seminars including "Teenagers In Social Risks", “Bullying”, "Differentiation in the Classroom", “Students as Leaders”, and "The Importance of the Game in Special Education.”". She believes that all students can learn and achieve their goals through hard work and a motivational and supportive environment.
AMELIA GÓMEZ SEGURA / (Ministry of Education Consultant)
Ms. Amelia has a Bachelors of Arts in Letters, Arts and Sciences and Bachelors degree in Spanish Philology. She attained her 1-6 grade teaching certificate at UNED University, and has worked for more than 15 years as a teacher and principal in the Costa Rican public school system. Prior to joining Del Mar Academy, Ms. Amelia taught Spanish in a private school in Nosara. At Del Mar Academy, Ms. Amelia taught Spanish and Social Studies, and presently serves as coordinator and supervisor of our academic department. Her hobbies are reading and walking at the beach.
ELENA GONZALEZ ATKINSON / (Business Administrator)
Ms. Gonzalez has a MBA degree from the Universidad Internacional de Las Americas in San José, Costa Rica. She worked for 12 years in different Costa Rican companies. After 12 years of experience, she started her own small business. She now coaches medium and small companies in strategic planning, budget and analyzing small commercial investment options and marketing. She has found her new business venture very fulfilling for it enables her to work at a different pace allowing her to share more time with her family. She loves the dynamic at Del Mar Academy and hopes that each constituent’s goals are met –students, parents, teachers and the community.
JESSICA SHEFFIELD ZAMORA / (Sustainability Director)
Jessica was born and raised in Heredia, Costa Rica. She is a Fulbright scholar with a master’s degree in Environmental Resource Management. With her leadership DMA achieved the national Blue Ecological Flag award with 5 stars, the highest level of distinction. Jessica continues working closely with the local public schools and the community of Nosara helping them obtain and maintain their Blue Flags. Seeing an opportunity for the good of the country, she proposed ´Sustainables Homes´ in an entrepreneurial competition and her idea was adopted by the Blue Flag commision nationwide. Ms. Sheffield is the Vice President of the Nosara Recycling Association, a blogger for the Voice of Guanacaste and is currently writing environmental children's books. She aspires to lead Del Mar Academy towards being a world renowned institution by adopting processes and implementing curriculum with the circular economy model in mind, while empowering students to become conscientious future leaders who inspire change in the world.
JUAN DIEGO ROJAS CASTRO / (Business Manager)
Juan Diego Rojas was born and raised in San José Costa Rica. He earned a bachelor's degree in Business from Universidad Nacional, and studied Philosophy at the Universidad de Costa Rica. Juan Diego is an accomplished guitarist and trained for six years at Academia de Música Moderna in San José.
He served as president of the Student Association while attending Universidad Nacional and worked in the credit department in Banco Popular de Costa Rica. Most recently, he represented World Vision International as a deal maker for social investment projects in Costa Rica.
Mr. Rojas has written economy-related articles for the business magazine ´Centro de Desarrollo Gerencial´, and has led conferences about investment models and social economics for the Business School of the Universidad Nacional.
In his free time he loves to surf, bike and play musical instruments.
ANGELA GHESQUIERE BRICENO / (Administrative Assistant)
Angela is from Santa Cruz, Costa Rica. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. Angela worked approximately 7 years as cost controller for several luxury resorts destinations in the Guanacaste area. In 2015 she moved to Nosara and started a family.
Angela is very excited to work at Del Mar and live in Nosara. Her interest include art, traveling, cooking, reading and going to the beach!
MARIA CHACÓN LEÓN / (Secretary)
María, a San José native, came to Nosara over three years ago looking to leave the stress of the city behind, and found Del Mar Academy. She graduated from the University of Costa Rica in English Language Education and has taught English and Spanish for 25 years to different age groups. Before returning to Costa Rica from Canada, María was training public service Interpreters. She also enjoyed receiving training in Theater and Creative Arts. She is pleased to be working in a natural bilingual setting and to be contributing to a bilingual education project. She plans to pursue a Masters in School Administration from the UNED. She has also volunteered for 30 years in the areas of compassionate work, and creative arts, mainly educating low income children and single mothers. María loves the Nosara quiet mornings, the ocean, and classic literature.