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Lila Haham: Director & Lead Mentor

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Lila Haham has created and been the director and lead teacher of Los Amiguitos since 2012. She has over 20 years teaching experience. She has taught preschoolers, school aged children, teenagers, adults and seniors. Her teachings include French and Spanish instruction, English as a foreign language, teacher training and counseling, developing curriculum for teaching Spanish as a second language for preschoolers, head of education project, and teaching classes in alternative education settings from preschoolers to 3rd graders.

She has integrated the importance of appreciating, learning about and caring for the environment as an important part of her teaching, training and mentoring.

Lila has taught in France, the United States, Lebanon, Ecuador, and in Guatemala to populations from varied socio-economical, educational, cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Previous preschool-Kinder-2nd grade experiences include teaching English to French preschoolers, training teachers in Guatemala on how to teach Spanish as a foreign language through books and acting, developing a curriculum guide for multicultural/multilingual Mayan kindergartens in Guatemala, working as French pre-k teacher as well as a K-2nd grade teacher in an alternative school, and creating and leading two Spanish and French immersion home-based schools.

Qualifications

  • MA in Curriculum and Instruction, specialization in Multilingual Studies (University of Texas)
  • MA in International Relations (University of Paris, Sorbonne)
  • Early Childhood-4th grade, Bilingual Texas Teaching Certificate
  • Licensed School Director
  • Preschool and Kindergarten Montessori certified
  • Professional development in: Environmental and Sustainable Education, Drama for School, Storytelling techniques, Implementing educational projects, Conscious Discipline, Coyote mentoring, and learning strategies among many others.
  • Nia brown belt certified
  • Yoga 200 hours with specialization in kid’s yoga certified
  • CPR and 1st Aid certified
  • Growing Up Wild facilitator
  • Registered teacher trainer in the fields of dual language and diversity
  • Wilderness First Aid certified

Other

  • Publications and formal presentations on environmental and sustainable education, bilingual and multicultural education, and teaching Spanish as a second language.
  • Trilingual (French, English, Spanish) and has also studied Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Mayan languages (Q’eqchi’ and Mam), Latin and Portuguese.
  • Nia teacher (sensory-based movements to music that include among others yoga, martial arts, and dance.)
  • Professional clown experience
  • Professional storyteller in French and Spanish as foreign languages
  • Avid hiker, swimmer, dancer and traveler. Also enjoys gardening, connecting with nature, running with her dog, camping, Tae-KwonDo, Krav Maga,  playing soccer , listening to varied styles of music, being silly and continuously discovering and learning new skills.

 

Testimonials

For specific Los Amiguitos testimonials, please check Yelp Reviews or Facebook Reviews 

 

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M-H Nguyen — Academy Belle Colline

I would like to recommend Lila Haham as an extremely talented trilingual teacher. Lila is creative, flexible and energetic, and she uses her talents to integrate fun and creativity into learning for the children. She encourages, supports, and gives children the tools to become self-confident, independent, all the while integrating and adapting the different levels of language and math skills for the different age groups. Lila communicates and maintains contact with parents to keep them apprised of weekly plans and those periodic field trips, which are scheduled around the theme-based curriculum. Lila is highly motivated, responsible, dependable, and trust-worthy. I highly recommend her to you.

H. Simons — parent

This is my son’s second year at Los Amiguitos and I can’t say enough good things. He started off very shy and in his own world, and he has since blossomed socially and loves going to school every day. The head teacher Lila has a very special way with children and is full of amazing ideas for how to engage them and let them explore and have fun and learn together and independently. We love being a part of this community.

E. Fonner — parent

Lila and the Amiguitos community are outstanding. My son has learned so much Spanish, and the environment is one of joy and wonder and respect. He attended preschool there for two years and now, as a first grader, he attends theirgardening after-school program to maintain his Spanish. I love that much of their time is spent outside tending the vegetable garden or doing some creative science project or art project. I also love the nurturing home environment as well as the beautiful Montessori classroom. If I were a kid, I would want to spend my time at Los Amiguitos.

H. Murdock — parent

My two girls loved the fact that Lila really knew how to be with them in a playful way. I am not sure they even realized how much they learned during their time with her because it all seemed like so much fun! I really enjoyed the feeling that when I left my girls with Lila in the mornings for school, that they were with someone I trusted. I also knew that they were in a learning environment that was structured while still being fun, flexible while still following a curriculum, and amazingly loving.

E. Fontenot — coteacher

It is my great pleasure to highly recommend Lila Haham as a wonderful teacher and guide for young children. Lila is highly intelligent, caring, compassionate, and has a natural gift for working with children. She is amazing in her creative uses of drama, puppets and interactive lessons that capture students’ imaginations! On a personal level, she is friendly, outgoing, and dependable, and cares deeply for children. Lila has the intellect, perseverance and initiative that it takes to be a stellar educator and all-around amazing person.

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P. Sylvana — parent

Lila has been a wonderful teacher for my daughter. Creative and engaging, Lila is able to grab their attention and make learning so much fun. My daughter would come home excited to share stories about one thing or another that they were working on. She was able to develop a great teamwork / collaborative environment for the class and my daughter’s Spanish language skills also improved. She also has a rare talent for getting kids to follow the rules, and enjoy it. Two thumbs up!

K. Lyons — parent

Lila Haham is an amazing teacher, full of energy and creativity that she harnesses to captivate the minds of children. As her student for 4 years, my daughter learned how to read, write and do math and she improved her Spanish skill immensely. Lila makes learning fun and accessible!

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Dr. Nguyen — Schools without Borders

I highly recommend Lila Haham. During the time she worked with ESF in Guatemala as a pedagogical advisor, she always performed her job effectively, seriously, with creativity and dynamism. She worked with the improvement of the teaching of Spanish as a second language and in preschool program. She has a big adaptation capacity and she is a good team member.

K. Lyons — BookKids at Bookpeople

Lila has a great talent for connecting with children, drawing them into a story with her animated voice and gestures so that they understand the plot and characters as they learn the new vocabulary in Spanish and French. Native speakers also appreciated the way Lila’s stories and songs engaged their children. It has been a pleasure to work with Lila. She is a masterful storyteller, combining excellent story content with an inviting and comprehensible style of presentation. Story time attendees adored Lila and appreciated her talent. Always trustworthy regarding time and materials, always friendly and forthright, Lila quickly became a favorite with BookKids employees as well.  I highly recommend Lila!

G. Frenken — parent

Lila is just wonderful with kids. She has a seemingly limitless amount of energy and patience with the very young children, and truly enjoys working with children in their most formative years. She fills the classrooms with art, music, singing, dance and exploratory learning projects and while doing so maintains control over the classroom in such a gentle, fun-loving, yet down-to-earth and no-nonsense way that she gains respect and love from the children. She tracks the emotional, mental and fine plus gross motor skill development of each child and effectively involves the parents by communicating what she observes and working together to ensure the child blossoms to his or her full potential while in her care. Lila has truly brought child guidance and development to the level of an art form.

J. Sylvana — parent
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I wholeheartedly endorse Lila Haham as an outstanding instructor. My daughter Celeste has studied with Lila for years and still maintains enthusiastic affections for her.

Some aspects of her teaching which are immediately obvious develop from the rapport and understanding she creates with children. They are a strong foundation for engaged learning and understanding.

Lila is animated and enthusiastic, two traits that can be hard to maintain working with a room full of children. Yet she remains the most energetic teacher I’ve witnessed.

Lila’s command of many languages and comfortable fluency in French, English & Spanish provide the intellectual ladder that a child can climb with confidence to achieve understanding of any of these. She has a profound intuition for communicating at the right level which stretches the boundaries of their learning with encouragement leaving the children exhilarated with their new knowledge and understanding. Countless times Celeste has arrived at home with command of new words or a new song eager to share her learning.

Lila’s empathy and intuition seem strongly evident in her classroom control. She is an adept master at redirecting behaviors which work against a good learning environment and helping children understand how to socialize effectively.

In short, Lila is a very effective teacher and I am absolutely comfortable recommending her to anyone.

Eduardo Cassapia

Hola Amiguitos!  I am Eduardo, and I’m so excited to be part of this beautiful community. I come from a beautiful place in the altiplano of the Andes: La Paz, Bolivia, where I grew up under the majestic Illimani and Huayna Potosi mountains learning native music on the quena, siku and bombo in the indigenous communities.  The path of music led me to the Bolivian National Conservatory of Music to study the oboe, and later across the ocean to Spain and Germany, to study Classical oboe at the Reina Sofia in Madrid and to perform with the Junge  Deutsche Philharmonie of Berlin.  Music connects us to the soul and spirit and to each other, so I began a course of study in Anthropology in my home town, and was very blessed to share ethnic sounds and dances of the Andes while studying Music Therapy at the Rudolf Steiner School in Balingen, Germany, where I began to formalize understanding of how music embodies the soul.  A curiosity about one of my ancestors led me to travel to India to study the Yogic arts and meditation, where in a temple I stumbled upon a beautiful experience deep in Benares.  Upon my return to Bolivia, I began teaching music to underprivileged children as director of the Conservatorio Los Andes, using music to uplift their spirits, their hopes and their means, imparting ancestral knowledge of comunitarian music as a form of therapy and cultural and social development.  My lovely wife is a harpist, and we now live in Austin, where we share our music with our three children aged 15, 9, and 5, and in venues across central Texas.  Hobbies include painting and sketching in pencil, woodworking and taking care of our two dogs, perfect cat and our bearded dragon, Mandala.

Lina Escalona

Hola Amiguitos! My name is Lina. I have dedicated 17 years of my life to art in all its forms. I studied Spanish Language and Literature at the Libertador Experimental Pedagogical University in Venezuela. Here I developed a love for theater, sign language and literary analysis. This allowed me to share my passion with my students.  As a classroom teacher I have focused on teaching arts, literature, theater and reading and writing. I learned to use art as an alternative educational route for knowledge of texture, history and even natural biology.

 In addition to this, I carried out culinary studies in the area of Pastry, a passion that allowed me to share my love of food and how it can facilitate teaching culture. I am fascinated by cognitive development, and how positive interactions are linked to positive emotional acts!

Laura Marin: Mentor

Hi, I’m Laura! I love music, smiling and adventure. I was born in a small town in the beautiful coffee axis region of Colombia, and grew up between Florida, Indiana and my home country.

My first contact with early childhood education was when I started working as a school librarian and became passionate about forming and leading reading groups for young students. During the five years of my Philosophy degree at the National University of Colombia, I worked as an ESL teacher for children and teenagers, with a certification by the Oxford Teachers’ Academy. For the next eight years, my professional venture was in music journalism as a production assistant for radio, podcasting, and editorial publications. I came to Texas two years ago in search of a new quest, and this opportunity to constantly learn alongside the children and teachers at Los Amiguitos is fascinating.

Melanie Pérez

Hi, I’m Melanie Pérez. I’m from a small state called Tachira, known as the city of cordiality in Venezuela. I am a veterinary medicine student on hiatus. I like photography and am a nature lover. I love planting and having a garden full of flowers. I really like animals, they bring me peace of mind. I am happy to belong to the team and to be able to enjoy and learn from each one of you.

Julie Oatman: Assistant Director

Hola. I am Julie and grew up in Texas, but have spent much of my career teaching in Colorado. I am a lifelong advocate for hands-on nature and inquiry based learning. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities and Comparative Literature, a Teaching License with an elementary endorsement, and am a licensed Director.

I have taught all grade levels, but my favorite has been kindergarten. After returning to Austin in 2019, I became director of the Jeremiah Program’s Child Development Center and transformed it into a high quality school for children from low income families. I really enjoy supporting teachers as they perfect their craft. I am passionate about experiential learning, arts integration, language immersion, and developing social emotional skills. I believe learning should be a joyful experience and I love to facilitate that joy.

I am so happy to be at Los Amiguitos because it fits so well with my educational philosophy and experience. I am the proud mother of four amazing young adults, and love to spend time with them! That often involves travel, and I love that as well. In my free time, I am usually at Barton Springs, working in my garden/food forest, or making pottery.

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