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About LIFE > Faculty and Staff

Nancy Kuster
General Director

Nancy Kuster is thrilled to be back in Guatemala working at LIFE School, having previously made three trips here with the NGO Hug It Forward to build bottle schools. She believes schools play a major role in shaping environmental/global consciousness and behavior that leads to long-term impacts affecting the future of our planet.  Nancy has been dedicated to teaching students an understanding of systems thinking and their interconnection to all living things. 

For the last five years, Nancy Kuster taught at the Sundance School, an arts integrated elementary school in New Jersey.  Prior to that she taught at a Montessori School for eight years and a Waldorf School for 4 years.  She is originally from Garden City, NY and has lived in Madison, NJ for the last 16 years.  She has two daughters (Julie and Amy).

Nancy has a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College and a Masters of Elementary Education from Adelphi University.  She also has certificates in Montessori Elementary Education, Education for Sustainability and Curriculum Design from The Cloud Institute, and Ecological Literacy from The Omega Institute.  She is also affiliated with the Pachamama Alliance as an Awakening the Dreamer facilitator.

Nancy is looking forward to working with the exceptional staff at LIFE School and getting to know all the wonderful students and their parents!

Brande Kitzberger
​Curriculum Coordinator
Brande Kitzberger is from Tucson, Arizona and has worked in education for over 20 years primarily in special education at all levels- elementary, middle and high school. She has taught students with mild and moderate disabilities at the high school level for 14 years, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Saint Lucia as a Special Education Coordinator and most recently as a teacher mentor at a career and technical school district.
She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelors and Master's degree in Special Education and Rehabilitation with an emphasis on multicultural and ESL education. She also is a National Board Certified Teacher as a Exceptional Needs Specialist. 
She believes every child can learn and is an activist for education policy that improves the lives of every child and in turn their families. 
She moved to Guatemala to finally learn Spanish! Brande loves to travel, read, compete in racing events (running, cycling, triathlons) and play volleyball. 
Ana Delia Ordoñez Chiyal
Administrative Assistant
Ana Delia was born and raised in here in Panajachel. She was a student at LIFE School before studying Business Administration at the Universidad Mesoamericana in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. She has worked in school administration and taught English in local schools and NGOs. She lives here with her daughter, and is very happy to be part of the LIFE School community. Contact Ana Delia at: admin@lifeschoolweb.com.
Maria Elena Criado Quiacain
Maria Elena Criado Quiacaín is originally 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 Assistant Secretary, and she is happy to be part of the LIFE family.

Camille Madonia
Camille Madonia was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of Pittsburgh and studied Africana Studies and Philosophy. In Pittsburgh she worked in human rights, with a focus on reproductive and racial justice. At LIFE School she teaches Preschool, Art, and Dance. Camille has had the privilege of working and studying around the world in places such as Africa and Europe. She believes children are our most inspirational future, and hopes to motivate them to be intersectional thinkers who are active in their community and the world at large. 

Sylvia Saminez
Karin Felix

Karin was born in the States and raised in Guatemala.She attended Broward College and Universidad del Valle where she studied Education and ESL. She worked at Universidad del Valle teaching for Aceess (USAID project) an immersion project in Cerro de Oro. She has worked in different schools teaching English as a Second Language. Her last post was in Jiangmen, China teaching Kindergarten. She loves spending her day with 8 very active and curious LIFE school boys.

Josephine Bingler
1st Grade

Although this is Josephine's first year as a teacher at LIFE School, she has been living in Guatemala for almost a year as a youth educator with the Peace Corps. She is originally from New Orleans where she founded a youth empowerment non-for-profit called "Rethink" where she guided students with the goal of restructuring their communities education systems. In 2015, she graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Sociology and Psychology. Josephine has experience in Montessori education, ESL tutoring, and as a soccer coach. Along with coaching and playing soccer, she loves to hike volcanos, cook, and take photographs. She is incredibly excited to join the LIFE school community and learn, laugh, and grow with her first graders.

   Adam Volk
2nd Grade

Adam is 29 years old and is from the north eastern state of New Jersey.  For the  past year he has been living in the largest and most northern state of Alaska. There he worked with children of all ages and helped to guide them through their daily lives. His favorite pastime is being in the outdoors exploring the unknown. He loves to find beautiful places and take naps in the sun. He’s very excited to live near Lake Attitlán because his favorite sport is swimming.  This is Adam’s first year with LIFE School, but he has been working with kids for the last 10 years in all different capacities from swimming, to summer camp, to outdoor education, to day care. He understands and respects young minds and cannot wait to help cultivate their growth in a more full capacity as a full time teacher at the LIFE School.
Thomas Clifford
3rd Grade

Although this will be Thomas’ first year at LIFE school he is no stranger to the classroom. Thomas has been working as a teacher in various countries around the world including Laos, Chile, Spain and Peru as well as England where he originally hails from. Originally training as an ESL teacher he studied in UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire) where he acquired a BA/ Hons in TESOL and Modern Languages in which he studied Spanish. Here he also qualified for a Trinity CERT with Trinity College London. Thomas has worked and volunteered within a range of learning environments including nurseries, language institutes, international and Public schools. In his spare time Thomas enjoys visiting different communities and creative writing. Thomas is very excited to be a member of LIFE school where he hopes to develop a community learning environment within the classroom and encourage an awareness of the interconnectivity between the sciences and everyday life. 
Conner Pullen 
4th Grade 

While entering his second year at LIFE School, Conner has lived in Panajachel since January 2015. Prior to joining the LIFE School team, he worked as an ESL teacher for Starfish Education in different offices around the Lake Atitlán area. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he graduated in December 2014 with a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Colorado State University and also acquired a TEFL certification. Conner is very passionate about education, especially in the areas of Social Studies and Science. Outside of the classroom, he enjoys many outdoor activities such as hiking and snowboarding (when he gets the chance), and is also an avid live music fan. Conner is very excited and thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the LIFE School family for the 2016-2017 school year.

Charles Wofford 
5th and 6th Mathematics
Charlie Wofford is originally from the United States where he graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Education from the University of North Texas. After completing TEFL certification in Cusco, Peru, Charlie taught for three years at Mayatan Bilingual School in Copan, Honduras.  He also served as Mayatan's Soccer and Track and Field coach. This his second year teaching at LIFE School. Charlie is a big proponent of equitable education for all students and believes that all children can learn and achieve at high levels, regardless of background or circumstance. His goal as a teacher is to help students feel comfortable in their classroom environment, take ownership of their learning, and achieve their personal goals.

Hannah Elbaum 
5th and 6th Science / Language Arts
Hannah Elbaum is originally from Connecticut in the United States but has been living and working in Central America off and on for the last few years. Hannah earned her Bachelor's Degree from Vanderbilt University in the area of Medicine, Health and Society and Latin American Studies.  She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and also taught Hebrew School in Nashville, TN.  Hannah first came to Guatemala in 2012 working as a youth health educator in Quetzaltenango. When she is not teaching, Hannah loves cooking! She is excited about joining LIFE School staff for a second year and loves living in Panajachel.
Nick Garcia
PE, Technology, 5th and 6th Social Studies
Nick Garcia is from Oakland California, but he has been coming to Guatemala his whole life.  His father is from Solola, which is where most his family still lives.  He studied Sociology at the University of New England.  He has been working in Education for the past 5 years. This is his first year working at LIFE School.  In his free time Nick hangs out with his family in Solola, plays soccer and explores the local area with his co-workers from LIFE School.  He is excited to work with all the students LIFE School this year.

Loida Ajiquichi
Hello my name is Loida Betía Ajiquichí Sicajau originally from Panajachel, Sololá. I am an elementary teacher studying a second career to be a Pedagogical High School Profesor in Educational Administration at a local University. My nine years of experience have been served with dedication and love in various local schools. Becoming friends with girls and boys is very special to me, as well as having a unique time to learn and share interesting things with them every day. I have loved the opportunity of teaching and learning at the same time and now that I am part of the LIFE School, I have new friends with whom to learn.  
Elvia Verónica Muj Bal

Elvia is in her fifth year at LIFE School 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.
Jose Luís Queche Hernandez
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 currently in Fourth Grade here at the school.
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