Alumna Glenda Quezada launches a Spanish immersion preschool, hoping to change lives both at home and abroad

Ever since Glenda Quezada had her first child, the Lord put it on her heart to provide “more than just childcare” to families in Newberg, Oregon.

“I wanted to provide a safe, nurturing, loving environment that was Christ-centered,” she says. It remained merely an idea while she had her second and third children, but “this year I told the Lord, ‘Alright, I’m just going to listen to you.’”

Through a series of what she describes as “organically opened doors by the Lord,” she will soon launch two schools: Manna Preschool and Child Care Center at Northside Community Church in Newberg, and Esperanza ("Hope") Spanish School (preschool) at Village Church in Beaverton.

“Our vision at Manna and Esperanza is to cultivate globally conscious, kind and academically driven learners,” Quezada says. “We believe that every child should have the chance to dream, to grow and to succeed.”

To achieve this, Quezada chose to focus on three branches of instruction at the schools: Christ-centered learning, Spanish immersion education, and the commitment that a portion of the tuition paid through enrollment will help fund education in Guatemala.

Christ-Centered, Constructive Preschool Education

“Our constructive curriculum, crafted meticulously, supports this foundation promoting holistic child development, enriching cognitive skills, and nurturing moral and spiritual growth,” Quezada says. “What you do is really let kids learn through their experiences and what they’re interested in. We just need to follow their lead and listen to what they’re telling us that they’re interested in.”

To Quezada, this looks like “structured freedom,” where children can have the liberty to express their interests while educators guide them with tools and resources. “Respecting children for me means giving them autonomy to make mistakes and voice their opinions … all while developing the spiritual part of their little bodies and brains and hearts.”

Quezada learned about this method of education during her time in George Fox’s Adult Degree Program, from which she graduated in 2016.

As a Guatemalan immigrant, I am a living testament to the transformative power of education. It’s changed my life around.

She recalls one of her professors, Carl Lloyd, emphasizing the importance of listening to children by really reading into an adolescent’s behavior and what it’s telling you.

Now, Quezada hopes to share a similar focus with her teachers. But “it takes a village to grow a kid,” Quezada says, and she is thankful for those who have contributed ideas, resources, free furniture and more for the school.

“Everyone has been very helpful in this process, and again, I can only attribute that to God,” she says. “He was able to provide the tools necessary for me to open this. It takes a community.”

Bilingual Spanish Immersion

Quezada was born in Guatemala, and she and her family moved to the U.S. when she was 3 years old. Consequently, she learned English significantly faster than Spanish. As her parents didn’t want her to lose the Spanish language as a part of her identity, they would send her and her siblings back to Guatemala periodically to continue practicing.

“It was such a beautiful experience because I got to be close to family and practice Spanish,” she says. And as Oregon’s Hispanic population continues to grow, “it’s important to make sure you are bilingual, whether that’s Spanish or other languages.”

In the past, Quezada has appreciated being bilingual when she traveled on mission trips with her family. “Being bilingual opens an immense number of doors,” she says. She hopes that by creating a bilingual school, other people will be equipped to serve in similar ways.

Hope Through Philanthropy in Guatemala

To Quezada, the state of education in Guatemala is “sobering.”

Only 2.8% percent of Guatemala’s gross domestic product — how much a country is worth, given their production of goods and services — is spent on education. This is “far less than the regional average,” according to the United States Agency for International Development.

Guatemalan children with Conexión Sin Limites
Manna and Esperanza have partnered with Conexión Sin Limites, a missionary association in Guatemala, to provide preschool education to local children.

And even with that funding, roughly nine out of 10 schools in rural Guatemala lack books.

“I would experience some of that if it wasn’t for my parents coming to the U.S.,” Quezada says. “As a Guatemalan immigrant, I am a living testament to the transformative power of education. It’s changed my life around.”

That is why Manna and Esperanza are partnered with Conexión Sin Limites, a missionary association in Guatemala. Already, Conexión Sin Limites provides one meal per day free of charge in their dining hall, and Quezada estimates that around 70 children from various surrounding towns eat there daily. Now, the plan is to use that same dining hall as a preschool area when meals aren’t being served.

“If we add the educational part, we’re really doing them a service,” Quezada says. “That’s where we can not only talk the talk of ‘Christ loves you,’ but also show them what that looks like through a free meal and free education on top of the spiritual part of it.”

Her goal is to teach at least 50 students in Guatemala within the first year.

“I want our kids and our families to think globally – we can make an impact,” she says. “We all have the ability to impact globally one way or another in the US or Guatemala. By choosing Manna or Esperanza, your child's education aids another child's learning journey in Guatemala, sparking a chain of opportunities and empathy.

“Together, we can spark a change, not just in our classrooms, but globally.”

Manna Preschool and Child Care Center and Esperanza Spanish School are now enrolling new students. 

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