Nuestra Escuela (Our School) is founded on love, where young and adult, like Quixote, accomplish their dreams and goals, creating a better wellbeing for their families. So help us God!
Nuestra Escuela was founded on August 11, 2000. It is the legacy of Ana Mercedes Méndez Jiménez, daughter of Justo Méndez Arámburu. Ana Mercedes transcended into eternal life when she was only fifteen years old, on September 10, 1997. In a dream visit to Justo, she told him Daddy, we are going to make a school. Justo's answer was Darling, how are we going to make a school? Her response was Yes, dad, we are going to make a school, Our School, just let yourself go.� Justo shared the experience with his wife, Ana Yris Guzmán Torres, they immediately took on what was entrusted to them and the rest is history.
Nuestra Escuela has five centers: Caguas Downtown, La Barra (a rural neighborhood in Caguas), Loíza, Vieques, and Culebra. It serves over 300 young people and their families in a bio-psycho-social and academic support where students complete their high school degree and continue to study in universities or technical colleges or join the workforce, and even some develop their own cooperative social business, for example Juventud Sirve.
Nuestra Escuela has received the Sor Isolina Ferré Medal for Excellence in the Service to Others, and the Award for Solidarity from Miranda Foundation. It has been classified as an Exemplary Program by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico and "Best Practice Project" by the Department of Education of the United States of America. Presently, it is celebrating a Decade of Our Mission of Love and every September 10, the graduation takes place in homage to the Inspiration of this endeavor, Ana Mercedes.
1. Human contact
2. Vital Essence Retreat
3. Complete evaluation
4. Personalized strategic plan
5. To improve the physical, psychological and social conditions, and to modify attitudes, values and behavior
6. Basic civic, ethics and academic skills
7. Personalized education
8. Sports, arts, talents and technology
9. Training for the integration to the workforce
10. The undertaking of the plan in the personal, means of support, family, community, nation and social aspects
11. Personal achievement, celebration, commitment to reciprocate what one has received
12. Establishment of the Model
1) What is your approach to education, teaching and learning?
Nuestra Escuela's main approach to education, teaching and learning is love. Through this love our community creates an environment where we learn and develop skills and knowledge that responds to our interests and socio-economic reality. By community we mean students, family, staff, collaborators, neighbors and friends.
In Nuestra Escuela the teachers become motivational beings that develop their classes and educational experiences using diverse strategies, taking into account the life experiences of the students, their characteristics and plans in order to make the information and skills relevant for the participant. The educational exercise that is practiced in every classroom uses the diverse learning styles that the participant may have as one of the principal foci of our services model, without leaving behind the requirements of the subject worked on. The educational experiences of every course provides the participants with new opportunities that will help them develop as healthy and responsible citizens of Puerto Rican society and the world.
A pillar of our education is the emphasis on the emotional, physical and mental health of our community members. We recognize this as a necessity for them to fully engage in learning and community life.
2) What can the wider democratic education community learn from your learning environment?
The wider democratic education community can see with Nuestra Escuela that it is possible to provide alternative and democratic education to a wider spectrum of students from a diverse socio-economic reality. Also that it is possible for municipal and state governments to support this kind of education as an option for students that have not been successful in the traditional school system. And how it is posible to create a caring environment among all the members of a community that will support every person to become its best.
3) What is the one element of your program you consider necessary to your success?
4) Is there anything you like to share with the wider democratic education community?
In March 2012 Nuestra Escuela will host in Puerto Rico the 20th International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC) and we expect the world of democratic education to participate with us. We will start with an American Pre Conference in which we aim to expand the collaboration efforts of alternative schools in Central, South America and the Caribbean. From the Pre Conference we expect the organization of an American Region of Alternative and Democratic Education, including an Antillean Confederation. Visit www.IDEC2012.org
Contact Nuestra Escuela
Nuestra Escuela, Inc.
San Claudio Avenue #352
Box 133, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00926