San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Private Education Options Expand in Guanacaste

With a never-ending stream of North American families settling in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, the demand for quality English-language education facilities has never been greater in the region. Complementing the selection of established private institutions, such as CountryDay School in Brasilito and others, are two new facilities under construction: PinillaAcademy in Avellanas, just south of Tamarindo, and, farther down the coast, the Del Mar Academy in Nosara.

“The biggest economic engine is the tourism engine in this part of the country, which has a lot of different facets that demand a different type of education,” said Bill Nevins, co-chair of PinillaAcademy. “We anticipate a huge demand because there are so many people moving here from North America and Europe.”

Guanacaste’s private schools offer a wide range of programs and teaching styles to suit different preferences, from creative afterschool offerings and educational trips to college preparation classes. The Tico Times has compiled a list of Guanacaste private schools and their offerings.

Country Day School Guanacaste

Location: Brasilito, 400 meters south of Paradisus Playa Conchal hotel.

Founded: The Guanacaste campus was founded in 2000, while the main campus in the western San José suburb of Escazú was founded in 1963.

Grades: Pre-kindergarten to grade 12.

Programs/Courses Offered: U.S.-accredited school offering U.S. college preparatory curriculum. Advanced placement courses and numerous electives offered. All English.

After-school Programs: Swimming, dance, basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, golf, chess and journalism.

Tuition: Pre-kindergarten to grade 12, full day, $7,040 per year. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, half day, $3,030. $800 for registration (one-time fee per family) and $600 for matriculation. Included in the tuition is a range of trips, including rafting, volcano tours, tours to national parks, canopy tours, horseback riding and sailboat trips.

Boarding: Five-day and seven-day boarding offered. The school has one of the only U.S.-accredited boarding programs in Latin America.

Teacher Requirements: Must have teacher certification from the United States or Canada, with multiple years of experience.

Native English speakers only. Sixty percent of teachers have advanced degrees.

Contact Information: General inquiries, 654-5042; Principal Stephen Butler, 654-5042, ext. 125; e-mail

Mariposa School

Location: Playa Potrero.

Founded: 1993.

Grades: Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

Programs/Courses Offered: Well-rounded approach emphasizing children’s growth,

including singing, dancing, playing, cooking, arts and crafts, visiting the beach, basic academics, socialization. English and Spanish. Daily, weekly and monthly enrollment.

Tuition: Ranges from $180 per month for toddlers and pre-kinder to $225 per month for kindergarten for the year. Discounts and scholarships are offered on an as-needed basis.

Teacher Requirements: Elementary education certification with English as primary language and at least a basic knowledge of Spanish.

Contact Information: Janet Lammey, 654-4420,; Escuela La Mariposa, Apdo. 60-5111, Playa Potrero, Guanacaste.

Teocali School

Location: Liberia,

Inter-American Highway

, two kilometers north of Burger King.

Founded: 1982.

Grades: Preschool to grade 11.

Programs/Courses Offered: Costa Ricanaccredited school with national testing.

Teaches intensive English at a college level.

All classes offered in English and Spanish from kindergarten.

After-school Programs: Soccer, swimming, basketball and gymnastics.

Tuition: Call for tuition rates.

Teacher Requirements: Native English speaker, Costa Rican residency, college degree (BA minimum), preferably in education.

Contact Information: General inquiries, 666-8780; Teocali Academy English Department, PO Box 186-5000, Liberia, Guanacaste.

Waldorf School “Jardin de los

Amores y los Crecimientos”

Location: Liberia, 800 meters west of the LaboratorySchool in Barrio Capulín.

Founded: 2006.

Grades: Preschool.

Programs/Courses Offered: Emphasis on values and spirituality. Honesty, integrity, home skills learned in group setting.

After-school Programs: A creative afternoon once per week, in which older kids ages 7-13 can engage in activities such as cooking, sewing, singing, playing games and music, among others.

Tuition: Need-based. Call for more information.

Teacher Requirements: Must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

Contact Information: Luz Caño, 371-4622.

Pinilla Academy

Location: San Juan de Pinilla, near Avellanas, two kilometers south of Hacienda Pinilla.

Founded: Under construction, plans to open in September 2007.

Grades: Kindergarten to grade 6.

Programs/Courses Offered: Montessori influenced Costa Rican curriculum. Will offer physical education and arts programs.

Tuition: Starting at $200 per month and subject to increase as the school expands.

Boarding: No boarding facilities planned, but potentially in the future.

Teacher Requirements: Must be certified to teach elementary education. The school is looking to hire internationally and eventually become certified by the International Baccalaureate Organization.

Contact Information: Bill Nevins, co-chair, 653-1540; PinillaAcademy, Código 5159, Apdo. 54, Playa Tamarindo, Santa Cruz, Guanacaste.

Del Mar Academy

Location: Nosara, between Playa Pelada and downtown Nosara.

Founded: Under construction, plans to open in September 2007.

Grades: Pre-kindergarten to grade 12.

Programs/Courses Offered: Will have an environmental focus, with on-site recycling center and hydroponic farm. All classes to be offered in Spanish and English. Will have a Montessori-influenced curriculum.

Tuition: $6,000 per year.

Boarding: Initially will have housing for teachers only. Boarding may be offered in the future as the school grows.

Teacher Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and teaching certification. Must either have Montessori certification or become certified after hiring.

Contact Information: Carlos Castro, 813-2765,


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