Hi I’m Jessica - Co-Director of PELP, MA
How I became co-owner:
Believe it or not, my first encounter with Portland Early Learning Project was through a Craigslist ad. Yes - that’s right!! I started out as an employee. I fell in love with the program right away. The two (awesome!) PELP founders, Christina and Kara, both have Masters in Speech and Language Pathology. Together they created a systematic and brilliant way of teaching Spanish and Sign Language by creatively and expertly incorporating speech therapy techniques into thematic units.
I love the curriculum!
And I absolutely LOVE teaching this curriculum to children! Our classes, camps, and story times are full of books, songs, manipulatives, and games. The tried-and-true method that we use is not only fun - it’s functional! Children don’t even realize that they’re learning.
How fortunate am I to be able to teach this amazing curriculum that seamlessly incorporates singing, reading, and playing with children - the trifecta of my favorite things!?! (Raindrops on roses… )
The strongest aspect of our program is our focus on eliciting Spanish from our students through play.
Even with just one class per week, our students have the opportunity to develop great accents from the get-go. Our budding adventurers not only come out of our classes with a positive language learning experience but with the desire to understand and connect with the wider world around them. Hello, world peace!
How I learned Spanish
I spent the most magical, life-changing trimester in Cuautla, Mexico back in college. I made a pact with a friend not to speak a single word of English -- and both of us came out speaking with near-native fluency! It took me five years, but I found a way to make my way back to (my beloved) Mexico by working as a lab tech at the University of Mexico for two years. That single trimester in my second year of college set me on an incredible (albeit circuitous) path to where I am today - an owner of an amazing Spanish program where I get to share my passion for Spanish language and cultures through singing, reading, and playing.
Fun facts about me!
- I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and have lived in seven different cities (two of which were in Mexico!).
I have more than 150 relatives on my mother’s side (I’ve lost count!), and only 6 on my father’s side.
- Georgetown University offered me scholarships in two different graduate programs: Latin American Studies and Microbiology and Immunology. I didn’t want to choose between the two, so I persuaded them to let me enroll in both programs at the same time!
- I regularly compete in local racquetball tournaments. I won a grant that covered all of my expenses to compete at Nationals in Fullerton, CA!
- Growing up I sang in various church choirs, glee club, show choir, musicals, and gospel choir. I sought opportunities to sing wherever and whenever! Here in Portland, I found the perfect venue to satisfy my love for singing… The Low Bar Chorale! It’s a drop-in community chorus. (You should join us sometime!)
- I have three wonderful children, Amanda (21), Danny (17), and Raquel (14). I’ve learned lots about teaching from being their parent (and had to unlearn a few things, too!). What I am most proud of is that they’re kind, curious, and love to read. And I am absolutely thrilled to provide a solid launching pad that will set them on their own adventures!!
Come and adventure with us! I can’t wait to adventure with your littles.
"My daughter absolutely adores Maestra Jessica! She is fantastic. My daughter enjoys telling me what she learned in class & practices speaking Spanish around the house. She's quite proud of all she knows & has learned."
"Kate loved Spanish camp and her class throughout the school year. The PELP teachers are encouraging, fun and have a passion for teaching Spanish that really shows. Thank you for all you put into your program."
~ Sara Moyes
"We are so happy with how Spanish is going! The kids all love it and are very positive about the experience. Just about every parent has commented on their child singing the songs at home (especially "Hola, hola" and the song with about the hidden color). We are already wanting PELP to be a part of our school next year!"
~ Amy, director of Heartwood Preschool
"Both of my boys (ages 8 and 6) took the class and they loved it. They started out hesitant in the Fall, but soon fell into the program and have enjoyed class. They always leave the class smiling. Also, they have begun practicing Spanish pronunciation at home, which I am thrilled about. We plan to continue the classes next year if they are offered."