'The Little School That Could' in La Cruz

Della Sullivan - Amigos de La Cruz
March 4, 2014

The La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Bilingual School is organized and funded by Della Sullivan.

Through the kindness and generosity of Aruna and Wayland, the Octopus Garden has been the location of a learning experience for locals operated by volunteers for years. I saw something already good and wanted to make it better.

I have a BS degree in Education, and am a certified ESL teacher, but spent my professional life as an owner-operator of a small diverse pharmacy chain in Illinois. However, my most important life’s work was raising my 5 children, so truly, I was always a teacher.

When I first sat in on the small class, it was a fun experience for all with more teachers often than students. I had a few ideas that I tried, and the class began to grow. Toward the end of that year, I was able to requisition a large bus, and as a final treat, Sandy (a long time volunteer teacher and my mentor) and I hosted a trip to the PV Zoo for over 40 students. What fun!

Each year I have been blessed with volunteer teachers helping this program grow. A special thank you to dear friends La Donna and Adana who kept it going last year when an emergency surgery kept me in the States for an extra month. I am so fortunate to have such people in my life.

This year was the first year that we found it necessary to stop taking new students about a week ago. We have between 80-90+ students.  This year we have 14 wonderful teachers - Sherry, Lori, Hilary, Elena, Jo, Peter, Gloria, Suzanne, Ron, Carolyn, Marlena, Pat and of course, Sandy and me. These wonderfully talented, upbeat people are what made this year our best ever. By having so many teachers we were able to break into classes by abilities and age. Teachers meet once a week and discuss the lesson plan and handouts for that week and share stories and experiences.

Our classes meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 - 6:00 pm. Anyone wishing to view us at work is welcome. The School is open every year from January through March. I am always looking for good teachers so in January drop by Octopus Garden.

Following is a list of supplies that would be greatly appreciated if anyone wishes to donate: Large White Boards, white board pens and erasers, lead pencils with erasers, colored pencils, copy paper, clip boards, lined tablets, white address labels, Spanish/English Dictionaries, English Children’s Books, Easel stands to hold white boards, Flash Cards (colors, numbers, food, clothing, activities, opposites) and printer cartridges (for HP LaserJet P1102w and color printer HP Deskjet 3050) Please no wax colors or glue.

The needed supplies could be dropped off with Aruna at the Octopus Garden and she would get them to us, or contact Jennifer Brinckmann at Amigos de La Cruz.

A special thank you to my husband Scott, who does all of my scan and color work, makes weekly trips to Office Depot, and does the enormous job of loading, set up and take down. In 30 minutes, twice a week, he takes a lovely restaurant and turns it into a school, moving tables and chairs, hanging charts, setting up pencil sharpener and all form units, and then afterwards takes it all down and puts it all back and loads it all up. He is the man behind the scenes that allows me to do what I do with such ease.

Thank you,

The Octopus Garden (El Jardin del Pulpo) is located at Coral #66 in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit. Telephone is (329) 295-5071 or (329) 295-5367.

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