Meet the Team!       


 

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               Dana Bekk              

Volunteer Coordinator & Kindergarten Teacher


   My name is Dana and to quickly summarize the most important things about me; I’m from a small town called Faro in Yukon Territory, Canada. I have two sisters, three brothers, two sibling in-laws, and incredible parents whom I love very much. I’ve lived in Australia twice, once as an exchange student and once on a working holiday. I’m a lifeguard and swim teacher during the summers and used to coach junior ice skating and work as a substitute teacher during the winter. I was once a counselor at a summer camp. I’m twenty one years old and to answer the question I get asked a lot, I have never been to university because, well, I’ve just been too busy doing other things!

   In early 2015 I started making plans to travel through Central America and wanted to volunteer for a month at a school in Honduras that I had learned about online. You guessed it, it was Cofradia’s Bilingual School! During my interview I decided a month would simply not be long enough and asked if I could instead stay until the end of the year. That’s how I came to be the grade one teacher at CBS for three months. I had been here for less than two weeks when I knew I wanted to come back. That’s how I became the grade six and seven teacher for a full school year. In November of 2016 I was asked to take over as volunteer coordinator for the current school year and after a long seven hours of contemplation I decided to take on what I knew was going to be the best and biggest challenge of my life thus far. Which brings us to now! I am the volunteer coordinator and kindergarten teacher at CBS and, to put it simply, I love it.

   Admittedly, I’m often a little stressed and a lot of sweaty but despite this I am incredibly happy here and when I’m not happy all it takes is a student giving me a hug, showing an interest in a subject, or using a word I just taught them to make me feel better. So basically, I am always happy. As if that is not enough, I get to be constantly inspired and uplifted by our volunteers and the immense amount of energy I see them dedicating to their students. I don’t know about you but I would trade comfort for these things any day.

   I’ve never really known where life will lead me but I do know one thing for sure, I am so glad it lead me to Cofradia’s Bilingual School.

 



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         Sarah Pitoniak        

Prepatoria & First Grade Teacher


My name is Sarah and I am the Prepa and First Grade teacher at Cofradia’s Bilingual School. I am originally from Massachusetts, but my most recent “home” was in New Orleans, Louisiana. Before moving to Cofradia I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and after finishing my degree taught as a Kindergarten teacher for the 2016-2017 school year.


This past May I decided to travel to Cofradia to teach short term and gain perspective on bilingual education and Honduran culture, as many of my students in New Orleans have familial roots in this country. After three short weeks, I fell in love with this school, community, and lifestyle. I returned home and fairly immediately made the decision to quit my job, move out of my house, drive all my belongings 26 hours home (cat included!), park my car in my backyard, and fly right back here (cat included!) for the upcoming school year.


Although I was truly happy with my life in New Orleans, the vibrancy of Cofradia is unmatched. I have never met warmer people who welcome you with open arms into their hearts and homes. I have never seen young individuals live with bold intention to better their lives and the ones around them through education. I feel incredibly grateful to be surrounded by these individuals every day. Every day I wake up I get to watch 30 Prepa students and 30 First Grade students learn and grown, and I would not have it any other way. Teaching has always been my passion and path, but teaching here has brought new definition to my life. Cofradia's Bilingual School is a truly special place and I could not imagine anything more rewarding or valuable than the work that we do here.

 

  


 

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     Sophia Kloosterman    

Second Grade Teacher


   Hi there! My name is Sophia and I am the 2nd grade teacher for this year. This is my first experience living overseas, and all I can say is that I wish had done it earlier! I’ve only been here a week, but already I’m starting to settle into the life in Honduras, and am loving it! One of my best friends is over here and had been telling me how incredible it was, so I decided to defer my degree for a year and come over to see what all the fuss was about, and now I can definitely see what she was on about! The children are amazing, the culture is so vibrant and every day is definitely something new and exciting. I’ve never done any teaching before, so was pretty nervous coming into a class of 30 Spanish speaking kids, however their enthusiasm, and the support of your fellow teachers makes it such an amazing opportunity to learn and grow. I can’t wait to become even more immersed in this culture, and continue to learn more and more things about the beautiful people here



 

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     Ashley Reed     

Third Grade Teacher


   My name is Ashley, I’m 18 years old and I’m from a small town in Alberta, Canada. I graduated high school in 2016, and not knowing what I wanted to do, I took a year off to work. During that year I realized I still wasn’t ready to go back to school and choose a career, and when I came across a post about CBS it immediately sparked my interest. 

 

   I’ve always had a passion for music, singing in particular, as well as musical theatre and volunteering. Throughout high school I was involved with several extracurricular activities such as Leadership/Student Council, Interact and Drama Club. I also love to travel and have been to most provinces in Canada, a few states in the USA, Mexico, and Scandinavia; so, the fact that coming to CBS meant coming to a place I’d never been was an added bonus.

 

   I was very hesitant about coming to Honduras as I had never left my friends and family for more than two weeks before and committing to three months fully immersed into a new culture, new people, a different language and a different lifestyle terrified me. But I can safely say that just a month in, I have completely fell in love with Honduras and all it has to offer, and now can’t imagine what it will be like to leave. 

 

  I have the absolute pleasure of teaching this year’s third graders and they are absolutely wonderful. Although they drive me crazy in class sometimes, they are so caring, sweet and undeniably hilarious and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.



 

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   Graham Ketterling   

 Fourth Grade Teacher

   Hello reader, my name is Graham and I am a second year volunteer at Cofradia Bilingual School. Being here a second year was not an easy decision to make. When I chose to return to Honduras I was also choosing to leave a lot behind at home. That being said, if I had chosen to leave Cofradia I would have left so much behind here as well. It was quite the catch twenty-two but I couldn't be more happy with the choice I made. We are now a couple weeks into school and I am constantly reminded why I love it here and why I came back for round two. 

 


  

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   Taylor Malmgren   

Fourth Grade Teacher


   "Hi friends! My name is Taylor Malmgren. I'm 23 years old and from a small town in Wisconsin. I've always had the desire to travel but never had the opportunity. About two weeks before I arrived in Honduras I came across an ad for CBS. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time, but in my heart I knew it was something I couldn't pass up (even if it was last minute). When I arrived in Cofradia I experienced culture shock for the very first time. The heat was intense, no one spoke my language and the water I drank came from anywhere but my kitchen sink. That being said, it was culture shock in all the right ways. I have never felt the importance of helping others like I do in Cofradia. I started teaching after one week of being here. Three weeks in has already been enough time to fall in love with each and every one of my students. If you are looking for adventure, change, and life long friends; CBS is where you need to be."

   Above is my bio from last year. Every year new volunteers get to choose a picture and write a little something about themselves. Returning volunteers have the opportunity to update or write a new bio completely. Today, I sit here in this beautiful country reading what I wrote three weeks in and look back at everything I didn't know I was in for. Amazing communities, beautiful views, and a culture you can only appreciate by being present and immersing yourself in. I won't change what I wrote because It's all still relevant for anyone to come, but I will add in there's a reason I'm here again. I could sit here and try and explain it or you could come experience everything for yourself. Here's to another year of memories and great people in my home away from home. 




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   Joey Powell  

Fifth Grade Teacher

   My name is Joey, I'm from a town called Okotoks in Canada. I'm teaching 5th grade for the time being. I use to teach English in Brazil during the winters but mostly to adults and I've never taught a group bigger than 7 people. So class sizes of 20 plus students is pretty foreign to me. It's been quite the experience getting to know each of the kids and discovering their personalities and their strengths. I'm looking forward to spending more time here with them and seeing how they progress. 

 


 

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    Lara McElrea    

 Sixth Grade Teacher


   Hi everybody! My name is Lara and I am the 6th grade teacher here at CBS! I am 21 and from a small town in Canada. Before coming here I was completing my undergraduate degree in Anthropology and although I loved my program, I felt stuck and didn’t think that sitting in a classroom was benefitting me. After speaking to one of the volunteers here that I knew from camp (shoutout to Dana!) I knew I had to come.


   Speaking of camp, I’ve spent the last 11 summers either attending or working at Swallowdale Camp! It is an international children’s camp in Rosseau, Ontario and has everything to do with my love of kids, teaching English, other cultures, and travel (aka, all the reasons I am here). It has truly made me into the person I am today and put me on my path to Honduras. 


   Now I should tell you a little about my time here so far! As I am writing this, I have been here for just over 5 weeks. I still haven’t acclimatized to the weather but I guarantee I’ll be leaving here a little heavier than when I arrived because of all the amazing (and cheap!) food I’m eating. It’s pretty shocking how quickly living here has gone from seeming crazy to just feeling like an upgraded version of my regular life. My 6th graders are some of the funniest, most surprising, hardest working kids I know. That’s not to say it’s always easy because it absolutely is not some days, but I know for sure it’s always worth it. Overall I’m so excited to be here all year and I can’t wait to see what it has in store!  




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     Andrew McCann     

Seventh & Eighth Grade Teacher

   My name is Andy, from Scotland and I am this year’s 7th and 8th grade teacher. This is my 3rd year teaching at the school and it is fair to say I feel at home here in Honduras. I hope you enjoy my bio as much as I enjoy free school lunches and dad jokes.

   I really love writing bios about myself, so first of all, I would say I am pretty amazing and have many talents, but don’t be intimidated if you come to join us here, I can be down to earth if I try. I am a young looking 33 and an average to below average level football player. I also socialize well and can run a mile in 19 minutes.

   I have taught as a volunteer before, spending 6 months in Laos in south east Asia and the experience confirmed in my head that teaching is what I would like to do for the foreseeable future, preferably in a volunteer capacity (finances allowing). How did I end up here? I basically googled free volunteering opportunities and from the 200 plus options on offer, CBS just seemed to offer what I was looking for the most:

A town big enough to have most amenities within walking distance, but small enough to have peace

A school set up for the right reasons

A non corporate volunteer company feel

A chance to learn Spanish

A dorable kids

A good looking bunch of fellow teachers (and Graham)

and most importantly, a small group of people dedicated to helping improve the lives of kids who, in all likelihood, would never have this opportunity without us.

   I knew straight away the opportunity was for me when I saw it and was not put off in any way by the false reputation of the country it happens to be in. The weather here is perfection, even for a pasty white Scotsman and the people are far happier than they are back home. I would rate my choice of coming here 9/10, the 1 point let down being that they do not have any decent beers.

   The 9 though is made by the kids. They can be a challenge to handle at times, trust me girrrrl (inside joke), but to hear them say that one word you taught them the day before over and over again and then to see a kid who never appears to be listening count in 5s from 5 to a hundred without ever showing him how to go that far just makes every day teaching them worthwhile. This year I have gone from teaching little kids to big angst ridden teenagers and I am loving the transition. They give me extra sass, but their jokes are on point and their English abilities after years at our school are truly inspiring. If you come here and come visit my class, or any other class for that matter and don’t immediately want to stay, I will eat my hat and any other hat you can find. 

 P.S. I like it here



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    Samantha Lépine    

  Ninth Grade Teacher

Hello reader & potential volunteer! My name is Sam, I’m 19 years old and I’m from Montreal. So what brings me to CBS? Well to put it simply, I quite randomly came across an incredible opportunity that I knew I couldn’t pass up… and I didn’t! I have been learning Spanish for the past 2 years and my previous travels in Peru and Honduras confirmed my absolute love of the language. I am endlessly fascinated by people and the way we interact, cultures different from my own and the universals that bind us all together. There is something so rewarding in the meaningful work everyone does here and that resulting happiness and pride is felt in my day to day life here in Cofradia. Since being here I think I’ve felt my heart expand and explode a few times and I’ve honestly gone to sleep smiling. I feel more patient and relaxed, less judgemental and I know I’ve become way better at sharing. If you like the sun, love to smile and want to make a positive change in any facet of your life and the life of someone else, come volunteer at CBS. No one has ever regretted it.




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         Erik Cullen         

Tenth & Eleventh Grade Teacher


   Hello, my name is Erik! I am teaching the 10th and 11th grade English classes this year. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and came down to CBS after its great reputation spread all the way to where I was living in New Orleans. I’d been working on a small farm right outside the city at the time, and had been growing restless for a new challenge.

   I've grown up with the utmost respect for those dedicated enough to commit to the art of teaching, and I was also drawn in by the lifestyle that Cofradia embodies each day. Coming to teach at CBS has been a terrific opportunity to work in a strong community, doing genuine, motivated work.




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       Doireann O'Brien      

Short Term Volunteer: August 2017

Hello! My name is Doireann and I’m from County Meath, Ireland. I’m 21 years old and at the minute have one year left of an economics degree at Trinity College, Dublin. I’ve always liked working with kids and had been wanting to try out teaching for a long time – I found CBS online one evening this summer and within a couple of days my flights were booked for my 3ish week stay. Being a temporary teacher to grade 2 and grade 9 was an experience I am so thankful to have had. It was such a privilege to have been trusted with these kids and working with them has given so much happiness. From the Honduran staff being so welcoming to the long-term volunteers being generous with advice, I really felt happy and at home from day one. I am only home two days and I am already excited to start planning my return.

CBS is an amazing place, doing really important work so unless you (a) are a monster who hates cute kids (b) have a phobia of making friends with the loveliest people from all over the world, or (c) are opposed to hosting a friendly gecho named Peter in your shower, Cofradía is the place for you!



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     Jillian Adams     

Short Term Volunteer: October 2017

Hi, I am Jillian from California/Australia - I pick and choose when it’s convenient for me or the conversation. I took 2017 off to travel and knew from the beginning that I wanted to dedicate part of it to volunteering. I found a free volunteering website and sent some emails. I was so excited to quickly receive a personal email from Dana to me in regards to my application instead of a template followed by another template like other schools. I knew this was the school for me!

I have been here one week now and I’ve loved every second of it. The town, the team, the locals, the food, and mainly the wonderful students. They are eager to learn, quick to understand, and always want a hug! These kids deserve the bright future that CBS is preparing them for and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it!



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     Drew Behnke    

Short Term Volunteer: October 2017

Hello! My name is Drew and I'm from the US. I grew up in Colorado, but spent the last 6 years in Santa Barbara, California. I worked at a software company for 2 years after graduating university, but was always looking to simplify my life and travel longterm. In February of this year, I quit my job, sold most of my things, and packed my life into a backpack to explore Central America for the next year or so. I've been taking a very slow approach, always trying to stay open and spontaneous with my plans. Which is how I would up at CBS! I met the current crew of volunteers while at a hostel in Central Honduras, and after chatting for several hours, decided on a whim to head to Cofradía for 2 weeks to help out in the classes.

I've always been attracted to the idea of teaching, specifically teaching English in a foreign country, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get some first hand experience to see if I wanted to pursue a longer term commitment sometime in the future. The 2 weeks have been everything I had hoped for and more. Interacting with students from Kinder to 11th Grade, it's been an absolute pleasure getting to know some of the students and see the progress that they make in such a relatively short time. I've had a blast, and will miss the kids and the other volunteers. CBS is a very special place, and I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to experience all that it has to offer.

 


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     Myles Blattmann   

Short Term Volunteer: October 2017

   Hello! My name is Myles Blattmann, and I am from an extremely small town in the Yukon Territory, Canada. I am all of 22 years old, and Taylor Swift, I am definitely feeling it. Now, a little more about me. During the summers I generally go back to the Yukon to work and save money for the inevitably upcoming school year. As of my most recent summer back home, I spent it fire fighting, which was absolutely thrilling, yet equally exhausting.  

   During the winters, I attend the University of Victoria, where I am pursuing my undergraduate’s degree in Anthropology. Victoria is a city I absolutely love, as well as the school and program I am in. Although I began to feel like I was stuck in a rut after a few years of repeatedly going home for the summers, then back to Victoria for 8 months of studying. So I decided that I would take time away from school for a semester to travel, and with that decision, I made my way to Honduras.

   Initially, I came to Cofradia as a visitor, and not so much as a volunteer. But the opportunity to volunteer at Cofradia’s Bilingual School soon arose, and after a two second contemplation session, I thought, “heck, why not”. Needless to say, this has been one of the best “why not” decisions I have made! The team of volunteers here are amazing, and are always ready to welcome someone new into their home. The students at CBS are an absolute riot, and there is never a dull moment to be found while with them. 

   So the night before the end of my two week visit in Honduras, I decided I would extend my stay for another month. It has since been a week since I decided to stay longer, and I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to do so. My only regret will be not being able to stay longer!


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 Tim Prewitt  

 Short Term Volunteer: October 2017

  Hello! I'm Tim Prewitt. I'm from Corbin, Kentucky, and I came to Honduras to join the CBS team in late October. I will be teaching 3rd grade until the end of December. I've been a project manager in the contruction industry for the last 11 years and I just wanted to make a change. Central America has been on my heart and my mind for the past couple years, and I felt led to this opportunity in Cofradía. I definitely prefer the classroom and schoolyard here to an office in the U.S. so far! I've been impressed with the kids here from day 1, and fortunately, they've received me very nicely, too. There are sacrifices to be made to be here, to be sure, but there is also so much to learn.