It is a joy to be committed to our passion: Teaching children in Spanish in a nurturing environment that is tailored to their unique needs.
Our native Spanish teachers hold degrees in Education and Early Childhood Development. They have a passionate commitment to the intellectual and social development of each child. The Welcome Amigos staff has developed a rich and dynamic curriculum tailored specifically to a young child’s ability to learn Spanish in a context of full language immersion.
Welcome Amigos International School recognizes that having an educated, well-trained staff is essential to quality care and education for children. In addition, it is highly important that teachers have the ability to stay current and utilize the most up to date information in the education of young children. Therefore, the school supports professional and personal growth and development of teachers in the education in the ECE (Early Childhood Education) field, bilingual education and social/emotional development through seminars, workshops, and classes at local community colleges and institutions that educate teachers in different areas of education and children. Furthermore, teachers are required to do a minimum of 18 hours of professional growth relevant to pedagogy practices during the school year.
Elizabeth Villagomez (Maestra Elizabeth)
Founder, Program Director and Lead Teacher
Elizabeth Villagomez is from Mexico. She is a mother of a College student and sophomore in high school. Elizabeth founded Welcome Amigos in 1998. She has an Associate’s Degree and Certificate in Child Development from Cañada College as well as a Child Development Teacher Permit. Ms. Elizabeth is pursuing her Masters degree in Human Development through Pacific Oak College. In addition, she has a site supervisor permit from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and extensive training in social-emotional and cognitive development from the Northeast foundation and the Responsive Classroom approach. Furthermore, Ms. Elizabeth has taken the IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum primary years training. Ms. Elizabeth has independently brought Welcome Amigos Spanish immersion program to several Bay Area preschools and recreational centers, as well as The Nueva School during the 2002-2004 school years.
“It’s a joy to teach children in my native language and give a testimonial of their social, personal and academic growth while giving them the gift of a second language that will open their world to many opportunities”. – Ms. Elizabeth
Karina Panameño (Maestra Karina)
Teacher (ages 3 1/2 – 5) Alameda site
Maestra Karina was born in El Salvador. She came to the United States when she was 12 years old. Being around children is her passion. She has been working with children since she was 16 years old as a babysitter. For the past six years, she has worked as a teacher in multicultural settings. Maestra Karina is currently pursuing her degree online on Early Childhood Education. She began working at Welcome Amigos during the summer of 2018. Her enthusiasm, outgoing and caring personality, along with her commitment to helping each student learn Spanish and be involved in the curriculum planning process makes her a perfect fit for Welcome Amigos.
“I have learned so much from children. I learn every day from these small and yet big, creative minds. I enjoy making a difference in young students, helping them in any way that I can, keeping in mind that they are the future generation of leaders. Teaching them about how unique they all are and showing them respect no matter where they come from, their family traditions or their skin color is what makes my day every day.”
– Maestra Karina
Caritina Aleman (Maestra Cari)
Teacher’s Aid (ages 2 – 5) Alameda site
Caritina Aleman is from México. She has two children of her own, ages 10 and 9. We have hired Mrs. Cari to help us supervise children along with the lead teacher as needed. In addition, she organizes class supplies, disinfects toys, and assists teachers and children throughout the day in different areas. Mrs. Cari has spent the past 4 years being a loving nanny of children from 2 months to 10 years old. She has dreamed of being a fully committed preschool assistant and is excited to expand her knowledge in a preschool setting at Welcome Amigos while attending school to earn knowledge in the ECE (Early Child Development) field. Mrs. Cari has brought her loving and caring personality along with her commitment to our team since mid-December of 2017.
“Children have pure and innocent souls which adults can learn from. I love children and I promise you that anything that the teachers and children need from me, I am there to assist them. I am responsible and aware of the needs of others. Being around children and playing with them is such a joy that I don’t feel the time pass by.” – Mrs. Cari
Evelin Barreto (Maestra Evelin)
Teacher (ages 2- 3) Hamlet Teacher
Maestra Evelin is from Bolivia. She has been in the United States since July of 2015. She has graduated as a teacher from Escuela Normal Superior de Maestros “Enrique Finot” in 2008 in Bolivia. Maestra Evelin taught Mathematics and English to elementary school age children and teenagers for 6 years. In addition, Maestra Evelin holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Gabriel Rene Moreno University in Bolivia in 2014. She is also getting her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education at Skyline College. Maestra Evelin volunteered for half a year in 2017 in Calvary Preschool with children ages 4 to 5 years old. She has also been a nanny for children ages 2-12 years old for about two years. Maestra Evelin has been part of the Welcome Amigos family since March 2017. Her young students love Maestra Evelin for her loving and caring personality.
“I really enjoy teaching because it makes me grow not only professionally but also personally. I love working at Welcome Amigos, it makes me feel like I am at home. I always look forward to learning from each student and spending so many fun times together every day.”
– Ms. Evelin
Santos Garcia (Santos)
Teacher’s Aid (ages 2 – 5) Alameda and Hamlet sites
Santos Garcia was born in México. Mr. Santos is a father of two children, one in College and one in High School. Mr. Santos has been a huge helping hand at Welcome Amigos. He is the husband of Ms. Elizabeth Villagomez, the school founder. He has been working alongside with her and the staff since 2004. We are so lucky to have him as part of our team. Mr. Santos does not have just one title when it comes to Welcome Amigos. He truly does it all, from being a handyman to telling great stories and chasing the kids around the playground. The children enjoy his charismatic attitude and fun games. Mr. Santos constantly has the children laughing and playing. It has been through his experience at Welcome Amigos that he found his passion working with children, so much so that he decided to take ECE (Early Childhood Education) classes at Cañada College since the summer of 2017.
“The joy the children bring into my life is priceless. All human beings beginning from childhood possess social and emotional needs that must be met to be free to learn well and thrive. It is a rewarding experience to help children feel a sense of belonging, significance, and understanding from a male’s point of view. As a dad and now educator, I understand that we, parents and adults, should care about every child’s well being and positive life experiences because we are the mentors that spend most of the day with them.”– Mr. Garcia
Esperanza Garcia –(Maestra Esperanza)
Preschool Teacher’s Aid – Hamlet site
Esperanza Garcia is from Mexico City. Mrs. Esperanza is the mother of the program director, Elizabeth Villagomez. She has been part of Welcome Amigos since it opened its doors in 1998. Mrs. Esperanza has been a great addition to our program. She is very loving, caring, and supportive to all of the Welcome Amigos Family. Teachers love to have Mrs. Esperanza help with the children because she is attentive to detail and very hardworking. Some of her responsibilities include keeping the learning environment clean and safe. Mrs. Esperanza assists the teachers and children as needed. She has also raised four children of her own, two of which have become preschool teachers. Mrs. Esperanza has more than a decade of experience caring for children as young as newborns, including four grandchildren.
“Es un honor para mi el poder ser parte de la vida de pequeños y preciosos seres humanos con un enorme alma pura y bello corazón. Aprender de los pequeños ha sido una experiencia remarcable en mi vida.” (I feel honored to be able to be part of the lives of these little and precious human beings, with a big heart and soul so beautiful and pure. Learning from the little ones has been a remarkable experience in my life). – Mrs. Garcia
Maria Panameño –(Señora Mari)
Preschool Teacher’s Aid – Hamlet site
Teacher Assistant (ages 2- 3) Hamlet Teacher
Maria Panameno is from El Salvador. She came to the United States in 2005. She is a mother of four children. She thought them to care and love and treat others the way they want to be treated. Señora Mari has been working for Welcome Amigos for Welcome Amigos since summer of 2018. She has learned how important it is to take care of children social-emotional needs and the impact that an adult can make in their life when you show your love and care to them.
“Una sonrisa puede brindar la confianza en los niños. Si nosotros los adultos les damos Buenos fundamentos a los pequeños, ellos van a triunfar en la vida.” (A smile can make a world of a difference for a child. If we, teachers and parents provide children with great foundations, they are going to thrive in life. – Señora Mari