Hi- I’m Christa! I’m passionate about education- especially language education for students who either speak Spanish and or who want to learn Spanish.

Over the 14 years I’ve been in the classroom, I’ve had phenomenal mentors and excellent teacher preparation.

I am especially passionate about Spanish language instruction for native speakers of Spanish, Heritage language learners, and those learning a new language for the first time.

The majority of my teaching experience has been with diverse student populations, where I use standards-based data to differentiate instruction by using acquisition-driven instruction techniques. Here’s the story of my journey.

I fell in love with Spanish in Guatemala at the height of the civil war. I spent time there during college building latrines for families, and while my Spanish at that point wasn’t that great, I knew I’d found my passion with both Spanish and Central America.

Fast forward to college- while studying at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I had the opportunity to spend 2 semesters at the Universidad de Costa Rica studying Spanish language. Turns out that not only did I love Spanish, I was really, really good at it. I came home from Costa Rica with an adorable Costa Rican husband but not much of an idea about how I wanted to use Spanish in my professional career.

It happened that my high school Spanish teacher was looking to hire someone in her department in my hometown- and I got the job. I was hooked on the classroom and thought I’d never leave.

It was during my tenure at Longmont High School that I had the opportunity to teach Spanish to many native Spanish speakers. The problem was, they were placed in my Spanish 1 and 2 classes- and those classes really weren’t appropriate for them. I went to the administration and asked to start a Heritage Language program– and they said yes! I spent three years learning from my Spanish-speaking students about their linguistic and cultural needs. The biggest thing I learned was how thankful my students were that I was willing to celebrate their home language in an academic setting.

It just so happened during this time that DSST Public Schools was looking for an experienced teacher to move to Denver to help write the curriculum for their Spanish classes, and their three year Spanish for Native Speakers track. I was the person for the job, and Bill Kurtz hired me in August of 2008.

During my time at DSST Public Schools, not only did I learn best teaching practices for diverse learners, but I had the opportunity to teach all levels of Spanish and work as an academic advisor.

Outside of the classroom, I worked as Department Chair. I observed teachers, learning to give them actionable feedback in real time. I helped hire Spanish teachers, wrote network-wide assessments for Spanish, and adjusted the network standards to align with national standards.

As the network grew, I became the Content Lead, crafting unique and meaningful in-house professional development opportunities for network teachers. I hold a Professional Teaching License in the state of Colorado.

During this time, I also became a mom to two daughters. My husband and I speak Spanish at home to ensure our children are bilingual rooted in their Costa Rican language and heritage.  

I took a break from teaching when my second daughter was born. It broke my heart to leave the classroom, but the cost of daycare compared to my teaching salary was staggering. Not one to rest on my laurels,  while the kids were small I started a business that promotes Costa Rican language and culture. I used our yearly visits to Costa Rica to learn family recipes and publish them. Today I run a highly successful travel website called Pura Vida Moms.

As owner of Pura Vida Moms I’ve learned the ins and out of SEO optimization, content and social media marketing, WordPress (I built this website myself in a day!) and know the business side of operating a business. Being a business owner has made me a better teacher. I had to pivot fast to become successful in a different career.

Now that my girls are older, I am back to teaching Spanish and coaching teachers. While thing have changed a bit since I was last in the classroom (hello AI!) I have found that kids are kids. My students still want to be seen for who they are not just how they perform. They are still curious about others, excited to learn Spanish, and love to have fun.

I can’t wait to hear from you about how we can partner to help students grow.