During our recent trip to Sayulita, we visited the Costa Verde International School. (Now that we have a little girl, searching for the ideal school has become a top priority.) I had heard great things about Costa Verde, Mexico's first "green" school, and since we were in town, it was a 'must-do' on our travel agenda. We didn't schedule any formal tours or make an appointment to visit, so on our way to the beach, we stopped by and was greeted by a very helpful lady who was more than happy to take us on an impromptu tour of the school. Upon entering the school yard surrounded by cute little white buildings/classrooms, lush tropical gardens, play areas, an open-aired faculty break room, vegetable garden with compost pile, art area and yoga/dance pavilion, I felt as if I had been transported to academic heaven!
Costa Verde enrolls preschool and elementary aged kids. Each classroom is filled with girls and boys from all over the world, and the lessons are taught in English and Spanish as well as additional teaching time devoted to the development of the child's second language. There is a strong focus on the importance and responsibility of embracing the environment and practicing sustainable methods of living. For example, math is taught by measuring vegetables in the school garden or counting the number of trees saved by using recycled paper. Costa Verde is an accredited private school and blends the standard grade level curriculum found in all other schools with ecology, multiculturalism, technology and creative arts. They teach the whole child using a very active, hands-on approach and stimulate the individual interests/talents of each student.
While there for 20 minutes, we witnessed preschoolers gathering around in a circle as their music teacher arrived with her guitar, a dentist coming to talk to the kindergarten class about dental hygiene, first graders tending the vegetable garden, second graders enjoying a yoga class, third graders working on their art work of pottery for an upcoming school fundraiser, fourth graders discussing geography, and fifth graders eating what seemed to be a delicious lunch under the outdoor pavilion. The teachers seemed happy and enthusiastic about being there (not to mention the intentional small student to teacher ratio). It was a harmonious blend of cultures from all over the world. Costa Verde has the perfect formula for a school - every aspect of a child is nurtured and taught in a joyful and peaceful environment with a strong commitment to diversity, sustainability, and culture. In my opinion, Costa Verde will be a leader in making a difference in this world.
For more information about Sayulita, please visit my SF Getaways Examiner column here.