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MEET OUR MAESTROS

Our team is composed of passionate educators from different parts of the world, adding an array of cultures and enriching our program.

Dedication to Professional Development

Continuous learning lies at the heart of Intiwasi School's ethos, embodying our unwavering commitment to growth and improvement at every stage of your Intiwasi journey.

 

We prioritize and invest in on-the-job training, collaborative learning, and transformative coaching experiences to ensure our educators receive the highest-quality professional development. At Intiwasi, we believe that the pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong adventure, and we are dedicated to providing a nurturing environment for continuous growth and excellence in education.

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Karina Torres

Executive Director and Board President

Karina was born in San Bernardino, California to Peruvian parents. As a toddler, she moved to Lima, Peru. That’s where she attended an English immersion school, becoming familiar with bilingual education and what it takes to be fully bilingual. Karina moved to Austin, Texas where she attended college, earning a degree in Anthropological Archeology and Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Initially, Karina dreamed of being an archeologist, a dream that took her to discover many different cultures and several countries throughout Central and South America. In 2008, Karina moved back to Lima, where she taught English to both children and adults. Slowly, Karina discovered her new passion: languages and teaching. This led her to enroll in a master’s program in Applied Linguistics specializing in second language instruction. In Peru, Karina worked in several bilingual programs as an English teacher. In 2010, Karina moved back to the U.S. and started working as an ESL instructor at the University of California, Bakersfield, and taught classes for families that just moved to the United States as well as ESL students at California State University, Bakersfield. In 2011, she moved to Los Angeles and continued teaching in many unique settings, including home tutoring, home school, and after-school enrichment programs. In 2012, she co-founded Kallpachay, a local Spanish immersion program, and summer camp. In 2015, a change in vision led her to establish Yachaywasi, a local Spanish immersion preschool, and OLA Spanish Immersion. During this time, she completed a certification in Advanced Core Early Childhood Education from UCLA Extension and a certificate from MIT in Launching Innovations in Schools. In 2019 she helped found Intiwasi, a non-profit organization with the vision of offering quality and affordable bilingual education to all members of our community.
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Nadua Farah Morad

Preschool Academic Coordinator

Introducing Nadua Farah Morad, a Colombian native whose lifelong passion for education and community development has shaped her journey. Born in Colombia, Nadua's early years were marked by a deep-seated interest in the transformative power of education and its ability to uplift communities. After completing her secondary education, Nadua pursued higher studies at the Universidad de Santo Tomás Bogotá. Immersed in a rich academic environment, she delved into subjects that would form the bedrock of her career in education and administration, equipping herself with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the professional realm. Nadua's career trajectory began at the Humboldt Foundation, where she served as a preschool teacher and spearheaded various projects aimed at enriching educational opportunities for underprivileged communities. Her unwavering dedication to empowering others and catalyzing positive change earned her widespread respect and admiration. Following her graduation, Nadua embarked on a journey dedicated to education and community service. She lent her expertise to esteemed institutions such as Colegio Karl C. Parish, where she engaged with students across multiple age groups in elementary education, spanning from Kindergarten to 8th grade. In 2019, after completing her Master's in Science in the pedagogy of written language, Nadua transitioned to Instituto para el Desarrollo del Potencial Humano (IDPHU), focusing her efforts on early education and nurturing the budding minds of tomorrow. Beyond her professional endeavors, Nadua finds solace and joy in spending quality time with her family and engaging in activities that replenish her spirit. Her commitment to education, coupled with her unwavering dedication to community development, embodies the spirit of positive change and transformation. We are privileged to have Nadua Farah Morad as part of our school community, where her passion for education and unwavering dedication to fostering growth will undoubtedly inspire generations to come.
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Meredith Portillo

Elementary Teacher

Meredith is a passionate and dedicated professional with a solid foundation in child development, holding a Child Development Teaching Permit. She has completed nearly 30 units of child development classes at Pierce College and is currently transferring to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) to pursue her BA in Child Development. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she has always had a deep love for her community and a commitment to nurturing its youngest members. With almost two years of experience as a lead teacher at Kinder Care, Meredith honed her skills in creating engaging and educational environments for toddlers. Following this, she broadened her expertise while working as an assistant at a Christian school, where she supported children of all ages, focusing primarily on pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. Currently, Meredith is a behavioral therapist, specializing in supporting students with severe behavioral challenges. She is dedicated to making a positive impact on her young client's life, helping her navigate and overcome difficulties with care and compassion. Throughout her career, Meredith has developed essential skills for working with children, including curriculum planning, classroom management, communication, creativity, patience and empathy, and problem-solving. She excels at designing age-appropriate lesson plans that foster cognitive and social development, implementing effective strategies to maintain a positive and structured learning environment, and building strong relationships with parents, colleagues, and students through clear and compassionate communication. Meredith uses innovative approaches to make learning fun and engaging, such as integrating arts and crafts into daily activities. Her understanding and addressing the individual needs of each child with sensitivity and care demonstrate her patience and empathy. Additionally, her ability to quickly and effectively resolve conflicts and behavioral issues that arise in the classroom highlights her problem-solving skills. In her personal time, Meredith enjoys playing with her little cousins, engaging in arts and crafts, and spending time at the park. Her love for painting and singing adds a creative dimension to her life, allowing her to express herself and bring joy to others. Meredith's blend of professional expertise and personal passions makes her a remarkable individual committed to the growth and well-being of children.
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Jessica Jovel

Associate Preschool Teacher

I’m a firm believer that we attract what we desire. For as long as I can remember I have imagined myself teaching preschool-aged children. Now, I feel blessed for having the privilege of working with wonderful children, teachers, and parents at Intiwasi. I am from El Salvador. I lived there for 19 years before moving to California. I am native Spanish speaker and bring the joy of introducing a second language through songs, play and everyday conversations with the children. I took my college classes here in the United States at El Camino College where I graduated with an Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and I am looking forward to growing and pursuing higher education next year. I discovered my true passion for working with children while teaching catechism at my church in El Salvador. One of my absolute favorite things is being able to spend time in the classrooms playing with our little students. They are an absolute joy and watching them grow and learn is an honor. I see teaching as more than a job but really a mission to contribute on this Earth by guiding the children in my care with love. Children’s curiosity has always inspired me and I am confident that Montessori education fits and becomes a lifelong love for learning.
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Alvaro Carmena-Black

Music Teacher

Alvaro Carmena-Black is a Spanish-American trumpet player who began playing trumpet at the age of seven. Since then, he has been focusing on growing his skills as both a performer and a teacher. Since moving to the United States, Alvaro has been exposed to many different teaching methods and musical styles, from the classical William Adam method to Jazz improvisation. In May 2022, Alvaro graduated from Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor of Music in Brass Performance Studies. As a music educator, Alvaro hopes to pass on his knowledge and experience to his students so they can continue to grow along their musical journey.
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Adina Hepner

Administrator

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Diana Curi

Lead Elementary Teacher & Student Success Supervisor

Ms. Diana Curi is from Cartagena, Colombia. Her love of education began in 1996 during a high school program called M.T.C.A. (Multicultural Teacher Career Academy) which ignited her passion for the Early Childhood Development field. She started her career in 2002. In 2015 she branched out to ABA and Early Intervention to assist children with global developmental delays. As a mother of three amazing children, in her words, she knows "the power of compassion and love." She also believes that children learn through play and will thrive with proper guidance including: positive discipline, consistency and following through while embracing their individuality.
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Uriana Peralta

Lead Preschool Teacher

Uriana was born in Venezuela, in the "twilight city." Her mother and sisters are still there. From a young age, in addition to studying, she danced classical ballet and nationalist dances at the Academy of Art and Culture in her city. At the age of 16, she moved to Colombia to study psychology, which is where her passion for working with children began. During her university internships, Uriana worked as a psychologist in foundations and homes for abandoned children. She collaborated with various NGO to assist children in the Guajira region affected by the Colombian war. She provided university tutoring to teenagers and volunteered to teach children how to read and write. Midway through her university studies, Uriana started working as an assistant teacher and also taught ballet at the same preschool. Later, she became a Teacher at "Mi Trensito Tricolor," working with children aged 3 to 4. Uriana discovered her passion for working with children from a very early age. She loved teaching them, playing with them, telling them stories, nurturing their creativity, helping them recognize their value in the world, and ensuring they always felt loved. During her vacations, she frequently traveled to the United States to visit her family. However, it wasn't until 2020 that she decided to stay in the country permanently. She started working as a nanny while validating her university studies and learning English. Uriana is an active person who loves working with children. In her free time, she practices yoga, spends time with her family, travels, dances, plays volleyball, and cooks. She's very excited to meet everyone here at Intiwasi!
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Rebecca Lozano

Lead Preschool Teacher

Rebecca was born and raised in the city of Los Angeles, she loves school, and her dream was to become a teacher. Rebecca began volunteering at the age of 13 with public school , public libraries and youth at risk programs where she learned and engaged in so much more than teaching. She then began taking community college classes at the age of 15. She graduated high school and was on her way to San Jose State University, where she obtained a degree in Business; never did she stop revolving herself with education through her 4 year at SJSU she worked as a behavioral therapist for student with mild to moderate disabilities, and for EOP and enrichment program for high school students. She then became a teacher assistant at a childcare provider center in 2019 where she cared for children ages 4 months- 13 years old. As of today Rebecca focuses on a Montessori practice where she provides preschool students with exceptional care and embraces the individual growth of kids ages 2-5.Rebecca is in school to obtain a special education certificate and hopes to start her Masters in Education at USC next summer. Rebecca’s passion is education, wholesomely children is what she cares about, she values education, exploration and discipline. She considers the entire child’s personality, their form of being and their interests when she teaches. She believes that education should be individualized to help expand on the children's abilities.She is empathetic and emphasizes the importance of a child’s development and their ability to self regulate. Rebecca’s skills and expertise include interpersonal communication, critical problem solving,and emotional intelligence.During her free time Rebecca enjoys running, playing with her nieces and nephews, crafts , and caring for her pet bunny. Her hobbies include gardening, crafting, and baking. Her interests include animals, farm life and cars.
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Karla Marroquin

Operations Director

Karla is originally from El Salvador. She moved to Los Angeles when she was 12 years old and has lived in this wonderful city ever since. She started working at our sister school Yachaywasi, in 2015 as a Teacher’s Assistant while still in high school. Since then Karla has worked her way up into many different positions. When Intiwasi opened its doors in October 2020, Karla was eager to jump into the new project, becoming a vital part of our school. In 2019, Karla graduated from El Camino College with an AA in Psychology. She is now working toward a BA in education and Psychology. Karla is passionate about learning and always has a great attitude toward new challenges. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, hanging out with friends and family, and listening to music.
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Lisa Park

Gymnastics Teacher

I am a former competitive gymnast, British Gymnastics qualified gymnastics coach, trampoline coach, and currently a certified Personal fitness trainer. I have my own small business called Fitness 4 Life, training adults and kids helping them fulfill their fitness goals. I started my gymnastics journey at 3 and began competing at age 7 wrapping up my last competition at 18 taking the gold medal all around champion in my county. I competed for my county and competed at regional level and at age 7 I was part of a development plan for up and coming young gymnasts. I have such love and passion for the sport I jumped right in at 14 years old coaching kids at the same club I trained at. At this time I also began choreographing girls floor routines which they would then later use in competition. I was able to be an assistant coach to those gymnasts at their competitions. The next step was for me to become a qualified coach through BRITISH GYMNASTICS. This meant multiple weekends learning how to teach skills, break down skills, specific conditioning for specific skills, and how to properly spot the gymnastic on each apparatus. You learn theoretical gymnastic knowledge such as emotional, cognitive and biomechanical\ development as well as discipline specific practical skills. At the end of the weekends of intense learning I had to do a practical exam, which meant taking kids through skills and spotting on apparatus whilst being observed. The other part of the certification was to take a written test.\ I passed my first certification LEVEL 5-Assistant Club Coach, then went onto passing LEVEL 4-Club Coach, (Club Coach means you can run your our club and teach on your own). Finally I passed my PRE SCHOOL AWARD. Over the years I have been able to coach gymnastics in many different setting to all ages of kids. It has been very rewarding and fulfilling. I have worked at private gymnastics clubs, sports centers, and come into schools and camps to specifically teach gymnastics. In one particular sports center I was the only gymnastics coach, I set up the equipment and ran my own classes and taught trampolining. Gymnastics has been part of my life for so long it fulfills me in every way. I am truly grateful for the experience, lessons, knowledge and skills it has taught me over the years and now I have a chance to share it with others. Gymnastics makes me smile and fills my heart, I’m proud to have been a competitive gymnast, to love my sport and to have the ability to teach and bring joy to others through gymnastics.
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Stephanie Marin

Communications

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Ilce Alvarez

Lead Preschool Teacher & Site Supervisor

Hi! I was born and raised in Guatemala. My passion has always been teaching, my journey in the field of education started 14 years ago in Guatemala where I started working towards a teacher’s degree, assisting teachers in Elementary school classrooms and taking classes that involved planning and curriculum. I moved to the United States in 2010, and continue with my teacher career at Santa Monica College. While attending college, I volunteered and did a few internships at different preschool centers. I graduated with an AA degree in Child Development and started working as a Lead Teacher and some years later as an assistant director in a Spanish immersion Preschool located in Culver City. In 2020, I graduated with a BA in Child Development from California State University, Los Angeles. In the same year, I experienced teaching preschoolers and tutoring elementary school children in Spanish through zoom. I am passionate about teaching and bilingual education because I know from my own experience how being able to speak more than one language can be an important tool to children’s future. As a teacher, my goal is to bond with my students and create an environment in which children feel safe and enjoy their learning experience. During my free time I enjoy hiking, reading, and spending as much time as I can with my family.
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Ximena Medina

Lead Elementary Teacher

Ximena Medina was born in the capital city of Quito, Ecuador. At the age of 19, she accepted an invitation to work as a professional full-time au pair in the US (09/2007 – 10/2009). After helping mother, raise, and love both a toddler and an infant for the Gamble Family in both Arizona & California, she returned to Ecuador to study Anthropology at the university level. While living/working in the US, she also studied English in Community College there. She holds a certificate in Academic Excellence in English as a Second Language. She has 15 years of professional teaching experience that includes pre-school, kindergarten, grade school, & high school students, as well as business professional adult students. Her area of specialty & strength lies in creating a positive learning environment via positive reinforcement. Her creative instructing experience fosters discipline, learning skills, and healthy social attitudes in children of all ages. Ultimately, her God-given talent gains the trust and confidence of children, teenagers, adult students, and the parents of those students. What stands out as making her different & unique from other educators is the following: 1) her empathic ability to perceive & recognize the differing individual needs of each child\ 2) her connection to a natural lifestyle that reflects her innate interest to offer a ‘wholistic’ education in nature that includes art, gardening, music, permaculture, & yoga; the ritualistic and its reflection on the human element.
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Yesenia Zamarripas

Lead Preschool Teacher

Hola! My name is Yesenia Zamarripas. I was born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles. My family roots are from Jalostotitlan, Jalisco, Mexico. I enjoy teaching about my culture and traditions to children. Fun fact about mi apellido/my last name, it originated from Portuguese. As a first generation American, I attended California State University Dominguez Hills where I earned my Bachelors of Science degree in Child Development with a concentration in early teaching and learning. I've had the wonderful opportunity to work in the field of child development for over 11 years. To me, the role of an early childhood teacher is to help children develop core values and guide children on their path to build their foundation in their education and social-emotion growth. My mission as teacher is to help every student along their journey as it is unique to them. I strongly believe that children learn through experiences, attentiveness, and hands-on approaches not solely by worksheets or tests. Therefore, together we are going to learn so many new and exciting things and I am looking forward to every minute of it. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with family, listening to music , reading articles about child development in our Latino community and support local Latino businesses. I enjoy going to Disneyland, camping trips, discover new places and foods, taking dance class such as salsa and bachata.
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Leslie Calderon

Teaching Assistant

Leslie Calderon is originally from Guatemala. Prior to coming to Intiwasi, she worked at Intiwasi's sister school, Yachaywasi for five years. She has also taught Spanish classes to children ranging from Kindergarten to 5th grade incorporating cooking, dance, movement and more. Leslie loves to cook and spend time with her family.
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Nadia Calmet

Dance Teacher

Nadia Calmet is a professional Peruvian Folk Dance Artist, specializing in Afro Peruvian Dances. She holds a degree in Tourism and Hospitality. Furthermore, Nadia received graduate-level training in Public Policies for Vulnerable Populations, as well as in Arts Therapy, and Intercultural Education. In Peru, Nadia established a solidly successful career as a theater, television, and cinema actress. She currently resides in the City of Los Angeles, California where she works as a teacher of Peruvian Dances and Artivism *(Maestra de Danzas Peruanas y Artivista).* In addition, Nadia is sought after to perform the roles of producer and artistic director. Nadia Calmet’s latest works developed for the stage include *“Candela, Fuerza y Pasión” (Lima), “La Ruta del Tambor” (Seattle), “Juan Palenque” (Lima), “From Perú to the World” (Gran Teatro Nacional del Perú), The Magic of Folklore” (Los Angeles),* and “*Letters from Perú” (Los Angeles).* Nadia currently lectures on Afro Peruvian history and culture as she continues the hard work of research, interpretation, re-interpretation, and demonstration of the dances of the African diaspora. Thanks to her studies in dance and cultural exchanges with organizations such as Barbatuques in Brazil, Conjunto Folklórico Nacional in Cuba, Familia Ayala en Loíza Aldea, Puerto Rico and classes with maestra Awilda Sterling-Duprey in Puerto Rico, Luis Salgado y Revolución Latina in New York, Monica Rojas y el Movimiento Afrolatino de Seattle, as well as in Colombia, Venezuela, and Spain, Nadia has been able to stay true to her mission of sharing her culture with the world. In the City of Los Angeles, she established Afroperuvian Culture Day, to make visible and vindicate the cultural diversity of Peru; a community event that increases its prominence every year. She is the founder and director of the Afroperuvian Cultural Action Center "CEACA Peru" *(Centro de Acción Cultural Afroperuano)* and participated in the Peruvian delegation with the production "PERU: Pachamama" organized by the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC. Nadia is an original member of the groundbreaking Millennium Theater group (Kimba Fá). Nadia also toured around the globe as a choreographer and soloist representing Peru in over twenty countries with Peruvian luminaries Eva Ayllón and Cecilia Barraza.
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