Preschool Elementary

About Us

Atenas Preschool y Escuela Colina Azul is a non-denominational, non-profit, environmentally focused preschool – 6th grade private school in Atenas, Costa Rica.  The school primarily serves Costa Rican families and their children, but has a small enrollment of USA, Canadian, and European children. 

Is the school bilingual? The school’s major curriculum is taught in Spanish, but is sublimated with classes in English grammar, reading and speaking class’s everyday, plus Science in English and age appropriate computer activity programs in reinforcing English vocabulary and conversation.

Atenas Preschool (3-5 year olds) was founded in 1992 by Mirthala Jenkins and Rocio Quesada. Mirthala, the director of the preschool ages 3-5, has over 25 years experience in early childhood/elementary education.  She is Montessori certified and was a director/teacher of a San Francisco, California inter-city early childhood facility for over 11 years before moving to Costa Rica. Rocio, the director elementary grades 1-6, is a Costa Rica certified early childhood/elementary teacher with additional certification in elementary administration.

In 1998 planning began for an expansion into the primary grades 1-6, with the addition of one grade per year.  Dr. Dian Dudderar, Ph.D., the director of International Teacher Internships, joined the partnership at this time adding the international English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher internship program.  Dr. Dudderar's background includes 25 plus years teaching in early childhood education programs, preK-12th grade teacher education certification professor with advance masters degree in educational curriculum and instruction and doctorate degree in school change and educational innovation.

The recently expanded campus of APS y ECS is located in Atenas, approximately 25 k from Juan Santa Maria International Airport in Alajuela, on a beautifully appointed mountainside site with a view over Los Angeles de Atenas. 

In keeping with the school's environmental sustainability focus, the school has been included in InBio Parque environmental education program as an environmental community/school project-based site. 

ECA is collaborating with INBio Parque’s “Roots and Shoots” Environmental Sustainability staff. Through the coordinating efforts of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, teacher interns serve as project directors for these projects, such as the Stingless Honey Bee Project.  Overall project objectives and more information can be found at: Roots and Shoots (A program of the Jane Goodall Institute).

St. Mary’s College of Maryland teacher interns are developing an environmental education program to be integrated into the APS y ECA curriculum with extended opportunities to be ultimately offered to students from public community schools in the Atenas area as an after school activity.

One of the unique aspects of the bilingual program at Atenas Preschool y Escuela Colina is the International Teacher Internship Program.  Dr. Dian Dudderar, a university teacher educator, affiliated with St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) and the Foundation for International Education (FIE), supervises this program.  APS y ECA is a placement site for approximately 30 international teacher interns annually, with a teacher intern rotation approximately every 8 -10 weeks. 

The teacher interns are responsible for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), computer communications and Science with ESL integration.  They follow the school’s ESL curriculum with the guidance and mentoring from the school’s regular ESL teachers and Dr. Dudderar. 

This program offers the children the opportunity to have interactions with primary English speakers for the enhancement of word pronunciation and English verbal inflections for reading and conversation.

Atenas Preschool y Escuela Colina Azul is incorporated in the USA under appropriate federal and state statutes, under the name of Costa Rica Kids Environmental Education Foundation, Inc. (CRKEEF), as a non-profit, non-discriminating organization. The purpose of the CRKEEF is to provide educational and financial support for children of all cultures, physical abilities, social status and ethnic groups in Costa Rica.  


Atenas Preschool y Escuela Colina Azul
Atenas Alajuela, Costa Rica (506) 2-446-4027

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