Today we’d like to introduce you to Yvette Montalvo.
Hi Yvette, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Since my formative years, my experiences and interests have always guided me in my life’s choices. First and foremost, I have a family history of hard workers, self-starters and small business owners. I grew up in their stores. My parents were immigrants that came to the United States with nothing and built a strong family business that is now run by my brothers. I grew up in a border town that made it easy to visit family in Mexico on a regular basis. While there, my favorite thing (aside from the food) was taking care of my younger cousins. I have always loved being around children and teaching them. And I always loved being in Mexico. Now, I know that my roots, my family and my love for working with children was my reason for starting my program.
Mariposas Spanish School for Kids was started in 1999 as a fun side activity. After graduating from The University of Texas Austin with a Business and Spanish Language Arts Degree, I began working in sales and marketing for a dancewear store. The job was fun but not fulfilling. I quickly decided I needed something extra to do outside of work. The idea of teaching children Spanish came from an earlier college job where I taught dance and gymnastics in preschools.
In the beginning, there was not much interest in Spanish classes for children and very few schools wanted a Spanish program. I quickly realized that many Directors and Principals did not see the importance in learning a second language. However, there were two schools- NorthWest Montessori and The Montessori Center (now Hyde Park Montessori) that gave me a chance. And this chance changed everything for me, my program and the lives of many families. I am always grateful to both of these schools for not only giving me the opportunity but also inspiring me to receive my Montessori training in Monterrey, Mexico. This important step in my education leads me to apply the Montessori Method to the curriculum that has become a signature part of Mariposas Spanish School’s success.
Mariposas has been teaching children Spanish for over 22 years. We still keep in touch with many of our students. Some are now in college and still remember me and our classes. I am so proud of our program that started in two schools with PreK classes to now offering classes for toddlers thru 5th grade in over 15 schools. In addition to our classes, we hold summer and day camps during holidays. All our class material is custom made with our students in mind (and now available for sale to teachers and caregivers). We have released two professionally recorded educational music albums. Our children’s Spanish app (Spanish School Bus) has been recognized by Parents Latina Magazine as one of the top ‘6 Spanish apps for kids’. And we now offer On-Demand classes so that children anywhere can learn Spanish with Mariposas!
When I look back, I never imagined that a hobby, a love of working with children would be something that I would build upon and continue to do every day without it ever losing the joy it has given me from the start. After so many years working with children and creating lessons, each day is still fascinating and fun. The beauty of it all is that I continue to learn- about the nature of children, about myself and how to become a better teacher/person each and every day. At this moment in time, I would not choose any other way to spend my days at work.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Luckily, the last 22 years have been pretty smooth. Not perfect though. There are always bumps in the road as with most endeavors, but they have all been lessons that have taught me to become either a better teacher, trainer, employer and person. And what I have learned with each struggle is that change was needed. It may have been hard initially but in the end, it improved the program or took it to the next level.
As with COVID, we were forced to shut down all of our in person classes, which was our main source of income; however, we quickly transitioned into virtual classes & pre-recorded lessons for our students. This not only helped us stay in business, it also widened our reach. Over the course of a few weeks, we had students from Mexico, Colorado, New York and even interest from Dubai! Schools from different states were reaching out to us for virtual lessons. We went from being an Austin language program to an international one!
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
As the founder of Mariposas Spanish School, I have built an encompassing program that makes Spanish fun and easy for children to learn while also training and guiding instructors through the process of being successful Spanish teachers. By a successful teacher, I mean that the class is engaged, learning and enjoying themselves while the teacher as well is advancing, developing and enjoying the fruits of her lessons.
My work is to be the best teacher I can be – for my team, my students, school partners & families, and to create a culture of creativity, inclusivity & support. A great program is only as good as its team. I am grateful to have found an amazing associate & teacher, Laura Gonzalez-de Leon, who has been by my side for over ten years, to challenge, inspire and support me through the daily work of continuing to cultivate the program & train teachers.
I am most proud of the structure and curriculum of the program that has been refined over the years. It incorporates all my different trainings not only from Montessori but also from continuing education, trial & errors, student feedback, and observations & feedback of all the teachers I’ve had the privilege of knowing. This has also lead me to create music albums, material and apps surrounding the foundation of our program so that families can continue to practice at home.
Mariposas is different in that our program is holistic and engages students and parents on many levels. We use different teaching styles that work best with learning a language, and we incorporate sign language, movement, meditation & mindfulness, music, cultural awareness, positive reinforcement, affirmations, creative lessons, storytelling and art. This provides an overall learning experience that engages all the senses & body. And all of this is done in a pressure-free environment that encourages each child to learn at their pace. Thus making it easy for children of different levels to learn together and still have fun.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
The love and interest in teaching children is what has been most important to my success. Because I honestly care, I am continually learning, improving, attending conferences and most of all, listening to my student’s and families needs. As the world and its children evolve, we discover more about our brains, children’s learning styles, new methods of engaging and material to discuss. We must continue to adapt. As Maria Montessori said, “follow the child”, their interests, and they will learn. Children’s interests change. What attracts them visually and emotionally changes, so we must also change with them. This is why my work is never boring.
- Albums, $13 each or $1 per song
- App: $5-$8
- On Demand Class Sessions $65-$100
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.mariposasspanish.com
- Instagram: @mariposasspanish
- Facebook: @mariposas.spanish.school
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/mariposasspanish
- Other: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Mariposas-Spanish-School