Head of School
Dr. Gabriel Maldonado
Gabriel has been an associate professor of biology and chair of an education department, thrice school founder and leader, head of an environmental education NGO, and educational consultant for 32 years. Having worked in Puerto Rico, New York, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Morocco and Tanzania, he is excited to be in Costa Rica, and in such a wonderful boutique school nestled between the jungle and the sea. Originally a marine ecologist and evolutionary biologist, he has done research coral reef fish ecology, on learning and teaching in science, and on outdoor nature education. Having founded 4 schools in 4 countries, gives him a perspective and experience that he hopes to put to good use in Del Mar, as it moves to its next stage in its development. The father of three children, ages 15, 11 and 7 (the youngest two which are enrolled at Del Mar Academy) and joined by his wife Monica Marin, also an experienced school leader and teacher, he is excited to be part of the Nosara community and Del Mar Academy. In his free time he enjoys reading war history, political biographies, and natural history books, riding horses, or hiking and exploring the local forests and beaches. He hopes to pick up surfing and again live by the sea.
Associate Head of School
Verena Castro, M.Ed.
Verena Castro has been in the education field for over 20 years. She started her career working at public and private schools in Costa Rica. In addition, she founded Pedagogical Consultant Services, a consultant company providing support to teachers, parents, and school administrators on effective educational methods and school culture improvement. On 2002 as part of a new learning challenge she moved for two years to Boston, Massachusetts; but ended staying 10 years. In Massachusetts, she taught Spanish Language Arts for bilingual students, and Spanish as a Second Language for new students at the middle school level. Later she was promoted as Foreign Language Coordinator, designing the Spanish and French programs for all levels of Middle School. She soon was promoted to another leadership role, as a Dean of Students, fostering the school’s culture by creating a learning environment with clear and safe expectations for students and teachers. Upon her return to Costa Rica, in 2013, she joined Del Mar Academy; first as a Learning Specialist and later as Dean of Students. Ms. Verena received an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a bachelor degree in Special Education from the National University in Costa Rica. She holds a Masters degree in Educational Psychology from the University of La Salle and Masters degree in Educational Administration. She has given seminars in Costa Rica and the USA about many topics, 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.
Juan Diego Rojas
Juan Diego was born and raised in San José Costa Rica. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Universidad Nacional, and studied Philosophy at the Universidad de Costa Rica. Juan Diego is an accomplished guitarist, 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 is from Santa Cruz, Costa Rica. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. Prior to joining our school, Angela worked for 7 years as cost controller for several luxury resorts in the Guanacaste area. In 2015 she moved to Nosara and started a family. Her interests include art, traveling, cooking, reading and going to the beach.
Elena holds an MBA from the Universidad Internacional de Las Americas in San José, Costa Rica. After 12 years working for a variety of Costa Rican companies, she started her own small business. Currently, Elena is a consultant ro medium and small companies in strategic planning, budgeting, analysis of 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.
DMA Foundation President
Jessica Sheffield Zamora
A Costa Rican Fulbright Scholar with a Master Degree in Environmental Resource Management and a Bachelor Degree in Marine Biology. She is a co-founder of Del Mar Academy and the driving force of the “Guardians of Nature” initiative. In 2012, through an entrepreneurial competition, Jessica’s “Sustainable Homes ” idea was adopted and implemented nationwide. She currently writes op-ed articles for the newspaper La Nación, has a blog in The Voice of Guanacaste and is the author of the Guardian of Nature children’s book series. Jessica is also a founder and vice president of the Nosara Recycling Association. She lives in Nosara with her husband, Bram and her children, Kai and Lucia. Jessica’s dream is to see her “Guardians of Nature” initiative and strategies be implemented worldwide.