.By Marisol Arias .Photo courtesy: María Milagros Gallegos Rioja
Under warm orange sparkles of a Tamarindo sunset, María Milagros Gallegos Rioja, new Director of the school, Educarte, By Saint Joseph, paused after a restless school day, to share her ideas with THE Tamarindo News about her two great passions, education and science.
María Milagros came to the country in love with a Costa Rican, with whom she formed a family and has two daughters, now aged 27 and 31.
Gallegos studied Biology at the South Dakota State University in the United States, and then lived in Guanacaste on a farm near Tenorio Volcano, where she felt captivated by the possibility of applying her scientific studies. “On the farm I developed embryo implants and I made my scientific dreams materialize.
With teamwork, we created a new breed of beef and milk cattle mixing the Jersey (¾) and Brahman (¼) breeds,” Gallegos said. Science has been a decisive part in María Milagros´ academic education, which makes her a restless woman.
“Life is science; everything is related,” she said. That conviction, plus her curious and methodical nature, moved the scientist to another field that excites her as well: education. As a result, Gallegos combines Biology, her academic training in teaching English and her two Masters in Administrative Management obtained in Spain and in Peru, to strengthen educational programs with a focus on development, sustainability and cultural exchange.
“Our objective is to integrate cultures. Our educational center is an international bilingual institute full of contributions from diverse cultures. For example, we promote the hymns of Costa Rica and those of our students´ countries of origin. We encourage tolerance and plural learning,” she said.
Gallegos pays particular attention to the learning of other languages, the adaptation of the course studies and application of innovative methodologies for students in order to bring sustainability into practice. “We are part of a network made of several schools interested in Sustainable Development.
These are from San José and from Peru: Saint Jude, True North, AIS American International School, Educarte, Alta Oportunidad de Tirrases and Weizman, among others,” she added. “We share the successful experiences we are putting into practice, such as car pool and recycling programs, among others. We give advice and support to each other. Young people share and exchange ideas.
There is a lot of awareness about current issues such as globalization. Sustainability implies a necessary discussion about consumerism, lifestyle, poverty, hunger and climate change,” she said. “We execute the 17 objectives of the UNESCO (United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture) in our educational programs.”
Skills and mastery: education from multiple intelligences Gallegos explained that, as part of the approach of innovative methodologies in education, the tendency nowadays is to leave the master teaching model behind —the method that focuses on memory skills— and go towards a instructive process that allows learning by a more communicative, entrepreneurial and leadership manner, thereby strengthening skills required in the labor sector.
“Guanacaste is growing at an impressive rate and there are many areas to explore as students. The sharing of knowledge about various cultures in the province allows an exchange of ideas and building and mastery of skills. This interdisciplinary training and values is all in the framework of an international, mainstream and horizontal ciriculum.”
“We have chosen a more formative and less traditional education. We develop skills and mastery. We do not necessarily evaluate academic content.”
One of the changes with this new training model comes in the teaching of science, which María Milagros believes should require more research and analysis of data collection, lab experimentation with a direct application to the students´ lives.
Gallegos recognizes that not everyone has a passion for teaching science. Therefore, on April 27, she will organize 10 workshops for the 7 multiple intelligences in a project known as News Sensation.
“We will reinforce the teachings of art and music, linguistics, debating and, of course, intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships,” she said. With many projects, goals and work to be done, María Milagros admitted to being a woman of challenges, who loves classrooms, creative education and children.
“I want to form happy children, who love learning from their own interests, and are tolerant and free.”