Tim Fennell / (Secondary English Language Arts)
Mr. Tim was born and raised in and around Daytona Beach, Florida. He holds a Master’s degree in European Historical Archaeology from the University of Sheffield in England, where his research studies included monastic tithe barns. He received his Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Florida, where he also minored in History and Classics, and he received his International Baccalaureate diploma from Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Florida, which is the largest International Baccalaureate high school in North America. Before joining the Del Mar faculty, Mr. Tim was an English teacher at Spruce Creek High School.
Mr. Tim has a wide range of amazing life experiences, including: contributing to a historical encyclopedia on the Medieval period, serving as an ocean lifeguard for 12 years, and working on archaeological excavations in Granada, Spain researching agricultural irrigation during the Islamic period. He enjoys playing rugby, playing and watching American football, surfing, running and writing short stories.
Zach Hurdle / (Secondary Mathematics )
Mr. Zach is completing his PhD in Mathematics Education from Texas State University, and holds a Master’s degree of teaching in Mathematics Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, both from the University of Texas at Dallas. Prior to joining the Del Mar community, Mr. Zach was the Director of the Math Department at Skybridge Academy in Dripping Springs, Texas, where he created an inspired math department that relied heavily on student involvement and hands-on activities. He was also a teacher and fellow at Mathworks at Texas State University. Prior to teaching mathematics, he was a math tutor at Mathnasium Tutoring Center, Austin Community College, and Kared Dillard College Prep, all located in Texas.
Mr. Zach is a published author and public speaker on a variety of advanced mathematics topics, including speaking last year at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, Texas. When he’s not spending time with his wife and their dog, he enjoys drawing, reading, and rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Katie Marsh / (Secondary Science)
Ms. Katie is originally from Newport Beach, California, where she grew up in a family of educators. She received her Bachelor of science degree in Biopsychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also holds a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential and Biology and General Sciences Credentials from the University of California, Irvine. Prior to joining the Del Mar community, Ms. Katie taught privately in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, where she took a boat to and from her job each day. She has worked in education for more than 14 years, teaching science to middle and high school students at Saddleback Valley Unified District Trabuco Elementary in Orange County California, Bridgeport Elementary School in Bridgeport, California, and Astor of Hever Community School in Maidstone, England. At Riverview Charter School in Beaufort, South Carolina, she created and coached a Cross Country team and taught a STEM elective course.
Ms. Katie has visited roughly 60 countries and all 50 states in the United States. She spends her free time doing anything and everything outdoors, including swimming, running, hiking, fishing, body surfing, skiing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Kristen Smith / (Secondary Spanish and Social Studies)
Ms. Kristen is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and she received her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Ohio University in Athens. She also holds a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification and is a certified Spanish teacher for all ages. Before Ms. Kristen and her husband fell in love with the beauty and community in Nosara, she was an English Language Arts Resource teacher and Special Needs Case Manager at Magen David Academy in Panama City, Panama. She also taught for four years in Madrid, Spain, in subjects ranging from English to History to Public Speaking at several schools - I.E.S. Fortuny, Colegio El Valle Sanchinarro, and C.E.I.P. Valdepalitos.
Ms. Kristen loves working in education because she has the opportunity to see her students make big connections and reach their full potential. When she isn’t pursuing her life passions of teaching, studying language and traveling the world, she spends her time cooking, practicing pilates, meeting new people, and learning to surf.
VICKY TWYFORD / (Upper Elementary Teacher)
Ms. Vicky has a master’s degree in Education and a bachelor’s degree’s in Art. Miss Vicky has been teaching at DMA for nine years, since the school’s opening. She was awarded a scholarship at Virginia Wesleyan College and through university meetings and seminars, helped encourage single mothers to further their education. She taught at a public school in Virginia for 15 years.
Vicky has two sons—Trevor, who is a medical physicist working with proton therapy treatment for cancer patients in Oklahoma City, OK, and Tyler, who is the environmental educator for the James River Parks and Recreation Center in Richmond, VA. After living in Virginia her entire life, Ms. Vicky made the big change to Costa Rica and the Pura Vida lifestyle with two suitcases, her dog Rocky, and her surfboard.
Silvia Villacorta / (Upper Elementary Teacher)
Ms. Silvia was born in Guatemala but lived half of her life in Spain (Salamanca and Barcelona) she has also lived in Israel and Texas. She holds a Master’s degree in Citizenship and Human Rights and a Postgraduate in Multilingual Education, both from the University of Barcelona, Spain. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy from the University of Salamanca in Spain, and she holds a Texas Educator Certificate for Bilingual Education. Prior to joining the Del Mar faculty, she was an elementary bilingual teacher in the Dallas Independent School District. Prior to that, Ms. Silvia was an elementary school teacher at Colegio Internacional Sek-Catalonia, International Baccalaureate School in Barcelona, during the time when the school became accredited as an IB school.
Ms. Silvia is a passionate educator and human rights advocate. She is a frequent speaker at conferences on a variety of topics, including Alternative Education and Literacy but also regarding Education and Children’s Rights in Latin America. She is the Founder and President of Asociación Telares, a non-profit organization that helps immigrant families transition into new communities. And she is a specialist in developing Phonological Awareness in children learning a second language. Ms. Silvia and her family are pursuing their dream in Costa Rica to build a home around permaculture principles.
María José Menéndez / (Upper Elementary Teacher)
Ms. María José is from San José, Costa Rica where she was born and raised before she moved to Nosara to teach at Del Mar Academy. She holds a Bachelor´s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Mental Disorder from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. Ms. Maria Jose has been a teacher and teaching assistant in the elementary program at Del Mar for more than five years. Del Mar Academy provided her with Montessori Teacher Training, which she has practiced for more than three years. During her time at Del Mar, Ms. María José has actively participated in the Evaluation and Curriculum committee, in which she collaborated on the implementation of individualized education and the Montessori philosophy.
Most recently, Ms. María José started her own family and after taking time off, she returned to the school in a curriculum and planning role for the 2014-2015 school year. Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, Ms. María José will work in collaboration with the upper elementary team to implement a project-based learning experiences.
Julia Grajal / (Lower Elementary Lead Teacher)
Ms. Julia grew up in Madrid, Spain, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a degree in Pedagogy from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She also holds degrees in Pedagogy from Universitat de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, and Universita degli Studi di Roma Tre in Rome, Italy, where she received Seneca and Erasmu scholarships, respectively. She participated in intensive Montessori teacher training, and she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Strategies and Technologies in Multicultural Studies. Prior to joining Del Mar Academy two years ago, Ms. Julia was the children’s care supervisor at Marmot Basin Ski Resort in Jasper, Canada, and a Social Worker for children at the Fundacion Balia por la Infancia and Siete Estrellas Education, both in Madrid, Spain.
Throughout her life, Ms. Julia has traveled and studied to pursue her passion of helping children at social risk, including establishing educational programs for children living in train stations in India. She enjoys the quiet and easy life - and frequent opportunities to surf - in Nosara.
Michelle Castro Gómez / (Lower Elementary Assistant)
Ms. Michelle is originally from San José , but has lived in Nosara for the past 10 years. This is her second year assisting the Lower Elementary program. At present, she is studying at the Universal Estatal a Distancia (UNED) at Nicoya, and she wants to graduate in the field of education or pharmacy. She loves to learn new things to she can teach her students. During her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, playing with her pets, and listening to music.
Efraín Avilés / (Lower Elementary Assistant)
Mr. Efrain was born in Nicoya, Guanacaste and has lived in Nosara for years. He earned his school diploma from the Bocas de Nosara High School and has a degree by the Institute of National Learning (INA) in Tourism and Services. Before working for DMA, Mr. Efraín worked at Blue Spirit Retreat Center for two years. He loves children and believes that working at DMA has been one of his greatest experiences. He plans in continuing learning about the Montessori philosophy and getting a college degree in Business Administration.
Karla Sauma / (Lower Elementary Lead Teacher )
Ms. Karla was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica. She holds her Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the Universidad de la Salle, and her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. She also has a licenciatura in Attention to Special Needs in the Classroom from the Universidad Federada de Costa Rica. Ms. Karla brings more than 15 years of teaching experience to Del Mar’s Lower Elementary teaching team. Before joining the Del Mar community, she most recently taught a Spanish immersion program at William H. Owen Elementary School in North Carolina. She was also a Homeroom Teacher at St. Jude School and Pan-American School, both located in San Jose, Costa Rica.
When Ms. Karla isn’t pursuing her passion of teaching, or visiting her extended family in San Jose, she enjoys scrapbooking, reading and spending time on the Nosara’s beautiful beaches.
Aidi Sheffield Zamora / (Casa Lead Teacher)
Ms. Aidi studied Bilingual Preschool Education at Universidad Hispanoamericana in San José , Costa Rica, and has a Montessori Teaching Certification from Princeton Center for Teacher Education. Before moving to Nosara, she owned a private daycare in Jacó for one and a half years and worked as the head teacher at Las Nubes School, a private school in Jacó, for two years. She has been working at Del Mar Academy for the past seven years, since the school’s opening. Her class mission is to create a means of self- discovery, whereby children develop learning skills that provide the opportunity and freedom to become lifelong learners, with the self-confidence to reach their full potential.
Ana María Mayorga / (Casa Assistant)
Ms. Ana Maria was born and raised in Nosara where, after graduating from Colegio Bocas de Nosara and obtaining a degree in Tourism and Services at the Institute of National Learning (INA), she began working with children. She has always been heavily involved in her church, including leadership roles and humanitarian missions to other countries. Having assisted at Del Mar Academy last year in the Toddler and Casa programs, Ms. Ana Maria is excited to begin her new career in teaching and is looking forward to furthering her education at Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED) in the near future.
Matilde Jirón / (Casa Assistant)
Ms. Matilde has lived all of her life in Nosara. She, earned her high school diploma from Colegio Bocas de Nosara , and now is studying at the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED) at Nicoya. “I consider myself to be a very cheerful person, and I enjoy participating in activities that relate to children.”
Juan Carlos Saldana / (Art Teacher)
Mr. Juan Carlos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He earned a degree in Arts and Humanities with a major in Visual Arts from the National Institute of Fine Arts. When he was eighteen years old, his first photographic works were presented in gallery. Soon thereafter, he left his country and moved to Bolivia, where he lived in an ecological community and study alternative techniques of healing. He traveled through Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and the USA. When he returned to Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, he worked in the printing workshop of Fernando Sandoval before moving to Costa Rica. He opened a Therapeutic Center called Spacio, Spa, five years ago where he also work as a Healer. He is the father of two children, Jana and Gael, who attend DMA.
Guillem Minon / (Physical Education Teacher)
Guillem is a graphic designer who decided to use his creativity to start a career in the sports industry. In Catalonia, Spain, where he grew up, he worked seasonally: as snowboard instructor in winter, as an outdoor activities instructor in spring, and as a sea kayak guide in summer. For the last two years, he has been living in the Canadian Rockies where he gained international experience instructing snowboarding, and he enhanced his skills in outdoor sports such as hiking, climbing, kayaking and mountain biking, among others. Mr. Guillem is looking forward to starting his Costa Rican adventure for different reasons, most notably: teaching sports at DMA, studying environmental sciences in Costa Rica’s Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED), and – of course - enjoying watersports and exploration of Costa Rican national parks!
Gabriele Brendle / (Ecology and Conservation Teacher)
Ms. Gabriele grew up in Germany, worked as a gardener, and then studied International Relations. She came to Costa Rica 21 years ago and lived 11 years in Siquirres-Limón, where she was working with the banana union, struggling for social and ecological sustainability. Also, she had a botanical garden with medicinal and aromatic plants. Ten years ago, Ms. Gabriele came to Nosara and has been working at the Lagarta Lodge as a naturalist guide in the Biological Reserve as well as selling her own handicraft.
Since May 2014, Ms. Gabriele has been teaching Ecology and Conservation in Costa Rica at Del Mar Academy and already feels part of the DMA “family”.
Her interests are to get the children in contact with nature; make them see, hear, feel, smell nature; and ultimately help them understand that plants, animals, and humans live in interdependence and that, therefore, we must adopt a sustainable way of living.
Melissa Valverde / (Movement and Drama (Casa and Elementary)
Ms. Melissa was born and raised in Costa Rica. She holds a Bachelor´s degree in Escenic Arts from Universidad Nacional. Prior to joining the Del Mar faculty, she was the Lead Drama Teacher at Escuelita de Verano, an organized summer school camp for public school students in Nosara. Ms. Melissa has a variety of experience in the drama field as a Director, Actress and Professor at a professional level in various performances. Her major strength in working with children and teenagers is directing workshops for communities in high socio-economic risk, such as programs that enhance creativity and expression as a way of communication.
Ms. Melissa also studied esthetics and massage therapies to complement her acting and directing career. Ms. Melissa is a creative enthusiast and loves living a simple lifestyle in Nosara.
Alonso López / (Music (Casa, Elementary, Secondary)
Mr. Alonso was born and raised in Costa Rica. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music with an emphasis in Music Education from Universidad Nacional. Mr. Alonso is a passionate musician and enjoys sharing his knowledge with his students. He has directed the sound in various plays and has participated in the sound production of various radio programs. He has directed several workshops for students in high social risk and for the last two years, he was the Lead Music Teacher at Escuelita de Verano, an organized summer school camp for public school students in Nosara.
Mr. Alonso enjoys playing music and is excited to start enhancing the passion for music with Del Mar’s students. He enjoys living in Nosara and the nature in our beautiful town.