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OUr Staff

Our People

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Bryan van Scoyk 

Director

Bryan is originally from Thousand Oaks, California. He enjoys writing, reading, traveling, cooking and hiking. Prior to his time in Guatemala, he worked in international education in Europe and North America. He has been at LIFE School since 2018 and feels extremely motivated by the wonderful students and staff he gets to work with every day.

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Carmen Díaz
A
dministrative Coordinator

Born in Panajachel, a business administrator, Carmen has been part of Life School for six years as the mother of a student and has been part of the Life School staff as the Administrative Coordinator since 2018.  She very much enjoys being part of an educational project that helps the Panajachel community.

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Loida Betía Ajiquichí

Technical Director & Spanish Teacher

Loida Betía Ajiquichí Sicajau is originally from Panajachel, Sololá. She is an elementary teacher studying a second career to be a Pedagogical High School Teacher in Educational Administration at a local University. Loida’s eleven years of experience have been served with dedication and love in various local schools, and she has been at LIFE School since 2015. Becoming friends with her students is very special to her, as well as having a unique time learning and sharing interesting things with them every day. She has loved the opportunity of teaching and learning at the same time and now that she is part of LIFE School, she has new friends with whom to learn. 

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Maria Elena Criado 

Secretary

Maria Elena Criado Quiacaín is from San Pedro La Laguna. She graduated from Colegio Liceo Sitsematico Integral Lisi in San Juan La Laguna as a bilingual secretary. Maria Elena is now a university student studying the areas of Secondary Teacher in Administration and School Administration. Maria Elena joined LIFE School’s administrative team as the Secretary in 2014, and she is happy to be part of the LIFE family.

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Elvia Verónica Muj Bal

Kaqchikel & Spanish Teacher

Elvia joined LIFE School in 2012 as our Kaqchikel and 4th/6th Spanish teacher. She lives here with her daughter, son, and husband. They are originally from San Juan Comalapa. Elvia is currently studying education at La Universidad de San Carlos in Sololá. Elvia loves teaching Kaqchikel and Spanish languages and the Guatemalan culture, and she also teaches Art to our Pre-K students. 

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Esthela Solis Suy 

Maintenance Staff

Esthela is from Patanatic, Solola. She speaks Quiche and Spanish. She loves to cook and play soccer. She is very happy to be part of the LIFE school community.

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Jose Luis Queche Hernandez
Guardián

Jose Luís is the school’s Jack-of-all-trades. He is from Panajachel and enjoys being a member of the LIFE School community along with his wife and son, who is a proud graduate of the school.

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Sofia Rosales

Accountant

Sofia is originally from Panajachel. She graduated from high school with a certification as an Accountant, and is currently finishing her postgraduate studies at the Mariano Gálvez University in the city of Quetzaltenango. She is passionate about contributing to the development of the educational community of Panajachel and is grateful to be part of the LIFE School team.

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Omayra Xon Escobar

Physical Education Teacher

Originally from Solola, Guatemala, Omayra is enthusiastic about her role as the Physical Education Teacher. Omayra joined LIFE School in 2018 and she enjoys inspiring our students to live healthy, active lives.

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Damaris Ajiquichí

Spanish Teacher

Damaris is from Panajachel, Sololá. She graduated from the University of San Carlos de Guatemala in Intercultural and Bilingual Primary Education, and is currently continuing her studies in social work. Helping children from other towns in Guatemala in their learning makes her reflect and understand different areas of accessibility in education, and she therefore does her best to make learning meaningful.

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Gabriela Leiva

Entrepreneurship, Art, & Spanish Teacher

Gabriela teaches Entrepreneurship, Art, and Spanish in Middle School. She is from Panajachel and studied at the Pan-American University in Sololá. Gabriela likes challenges, she is dynamic, responsible, and dedicated in everything that is entrusted to her, and she is ready to embark on a learning adventure with our básico students.

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Silvia Saminez

Párvulos A and B

Silvia is from Monte Mercedes, Sololá. She graduated from the Sololateca Integral College of Infant Education. She also graduated with a degree as a high school teacher from the University of San Carlos de Guatemala. Since 2014 she has been part of LIFE school as a Kinder A teacher, and she really loves imparting knowledge. 

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Chelsey Smith

Párvulos A and B, Art

Chelsey is originally from California, but has spent the last few years moving around the United States and living abroad. She studied business at San Diego State University, and realized her passion is to work with children, so went back to school and for a teaching license in English for Speakers of Other Languages and Social Studies, and a Masters of Education. Chelsey has found a love for working abroad and taught at a preschool in China for a year. She loves to create a community of learners in the classroom, where learning is fun and everyone feels valued. Beyond the classroom, Chelsey loves to read, do yoga, cook (she's vegetarian!) and enjoy nature. She is excited to make Guatemala and Life School her new home.

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Daniella Easter

Párvulos C, Technology

The daughter of an American father and a Guatemalan mother, Daniella was born and raised in Sololá. She likes to play sports,  read, write, and sing, but she especially loves teaching and helping others. She has been working as a teacher since 2017 and is excited to be a part of LIFE School. She is motivated by the passion she feels when she sees her students improve.

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Jennifer Collins

1st Grade, Teacher Leader

Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Jennifer has been teaching for ten years. All of her teaching has been international in private schools, public schools and non-profit schools. She has taught kindergarten through grade six, with the bulk of her experience in kindergarten and first grade. Jennifer holds a degree in primary/junior education from the University of Queen’s in Kingston, Canada. She has lived in five countries other than Canada, with the bulk of her teaching career in Haiti. When not in the classroom, Jennifer loves reading, cooking and traveling. 

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Tiffany McDaniel

2nd Grade

Tiffany was raised on a small farm in Kansas. She graduated from Pittsburg State University with her bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education. Since then, she has enjoyed teaching abroad, mostly in primary schools. She loves helping students expand their knowledge and giving them the platform and confidence to become teachers to their peers. In her free time, Tiffany loves staying active in order to keep up with her students. Her hobbies include learning other languages, bouldering, and fishing. She is especially excited to meet all the second graders and can’t wait to call Panajachel home.

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Molly Healy

3rd Grade, Teacher Leader

Originally from Boston, Ma, USA, Molly has been teaching for ten years.  She has worked in public and private schools both internationally and in the states. Molly has taught Pre-k through 5th , with the bulk of experience in first and second grade. She  is Montessori and ABA trained. Molly holds a degree in Humanities from Campion College in Sydney, Australia. She has lived and taught in many countries, most recently having taught in Myanmar. Molly is passionate about education and enjoys reading, writing, and traveling.

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Milena Mladenović

4th Grade

Milena is an experienced Class Teacher with a demonstrated history of working in education management. She gained practice working in a primary school in Serbia, but also working on projects that are of national and international importance. Focused on the transformation of educational approaches, she has expertise as a STEAM dedicated teacher, as well as a Teacher trainer in areas of communication, conflict resolution, self-awareness and self-regulation methods in the classroom. Driven by the passion to support young ones to fulfill their potential and find joy in learning, she oriented her methodology towards project based learning, peer support learning and flipped classroom.

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Mary Ghiloni

5th Grade

Mary is from Columbus Ohio. She earned her bachelor's degree in Math Education from the University of Dayton. She has taught 7th grade and high school students in Dayton, Ohio for the last 3 years. Mary fell in love with Guatemala during a language immersion in 2019 and is so excited to be able to call it her new home. Outside of school Mary enjoys running, traveling, trying new recipes and learning new languages. 

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Ryan Musser 

Middle School Math, Teacher Leader

Ryan is originally from the United States, where he taught for eight years in the state of Virginia. He earned his bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and his master's degree in Education Leadership from George Mason University. He has taught 4th and 5th grade students in an elementary school in Virginia, close to Washington, D.C., while taking a variety of leadership roles within his school to help improve student learning, staff professional knowledge, and school climate. Outside of teaching, Ryan enjoys reading, running, and exploring new areas of the world. After visiting Guatemala in 2019, Ryan fell in love with the country and is eager to return. He is excited to continue his passion of teaching while calling Guatemala home. 

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Bryson Brown 

Middle School Science and Social Studies

Bryson and his wonderful family, Ashley, Vera, Avery, and their trusty pup Griffin, are excited to be moving to Lake Atitlan from Seattle. Bryson has spent his career learning from children of all ages, but most recently from K-5 students at Wing Luke Elementary, where his daughter Vera was in Kindergarten. He first started teaching after graduating from NYU and then joining NYC Teaching Fellows in 2004. The whole family can't wait to make new friends and become part of the LIFE school community. 

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Jenny Starkey

Middle School ELA

Jenny grew up in Hungary and is also an American citizen. She completed her degree in Special Needs Education specializing in Speech and Language Therapy and Behavioral Disorders. She has worked in an Alternative School, International and Bilingual Schools, and a Language School and has taught English to groups of children and adults at various levels. Her studies have inspired her to research the connection between second language learning and natural language acquisition. She is committed to keeping her students engaged and inspired to learn in a fun and
experience-based environment. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, hiking, playing music, and reading.