Our team

LIFE International School boasts of a highly qualified staff.  Our excellent teachers are specially certified to teach academics to students whose first language is not English.  All staff is certified in CPR and First Aid and have their food handling license in Spain.

Walter Hopkins

Director of LIFE

Walter is from New York. He has a degree in Education, Spanish Language and French with a Master’s degree in Spanish Language. He has taught Spanish and French to children from fifth grade to university students. For six years he was the deputy director of the Spanish as a Second Language program at Michigan State University and for the last three and a half years he has been a professor at Houghton College where, in addition to language classes, he has taught pedagogy, linguistics, and second language acquisition.

Laura Hopkins

Assistant Director and Elementary Instructional Support

Laura grew up in Brazil and the United States.  She began her career in education as an elementary teacher and reading specialist.  In 2018, she completed a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education at Michigan State University.  For three years she worked as an Assistant Professor of Education at Houghton College where she mentored developing and early-career teachers, primarily teaching courses in elementary education and language and literacy at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Carol Paige

Assistant Director and Curriculum Coordinator

Carol started her educational career as a school social worker in Williamsburg, Virginia. Over the past 12 years, she served in schools in the country of Paraguay as a social worker and teacher and most recently as the secondary school principal and director of curriculum and instruction at Asunción Christian Academy. Carol holds a master’s degree in Social Work and an Ed.S. post-master’s degree in Christian Education Leadership and is currently completing a Ph.D. in Christian Education Leadership.

Susana Chois

IT Manager

Susy is a Chinese American raised in the USA and Colombia. She holds an MA in Biblical & Theological Studies and a BA in Drama. She has twenty plus years experience in business, international education and media entertainment industries. Her first languages are English and Cantonese, but she also speaks Spanish, Mandarin & Japanese.

Ana Maria Veloza Berdugo

Operations and Finance Manager

Annie was born and raised in Colombia. She has studied Economics at the Javeriana University of Colombia and her experience has been developed between Colombia and Chile in business administration, management control and finance. She has worked as an analyst in financial processes, business administrator and later as a business consultant in technology companies for the implementation of information systems in management control and reporting processes.

Natalia Amuchástegui Lehr

Marketing Manager

Natalia was born and raised in Argentina. She attended an innovative, bilingual educational high school which sparked her interest in individualized instruction. She studied Marketing at UADE in Buenos Aires; and in 2002 she moved to Madrid where she pursued her professional career in Marketing at several renowned technology multinationals. She has a Master’s Degree in Business Intelligence, and has served in various roles in the LIFE project since 2015.

Paola Catalán Prado

Preschool Teacher

Paola holds a double B.A. in French Language & Culture and in International Business Administration. Soon after graduation, she began her learning adventure in the field of education at a Korean American School in Guatemala. Once back in the USA, where she grew up, she continued her journey, mainly focusing on Spanish language acquisition and immersion programs at the elementary level in the Texas public school system. Having a strong interest in language, cultural studies, she then completed her M.A. in Spanish Language & Culture from the University of Salamanca, Spain. She now joins LIFE excited to teach kids so that they can grow up surrounded by love, all while excelling in all of their academic goals & life purposes.

Samantha Johnson

Preschool Teacher

Samantha is a specialist in English language immersion, as well as teaching through fun and nature. She has been working with Linguistic Immersion methodology in the Spanish private school system for six years.  A native of Jamaica, she has a master’s degree in Social Education from the Complutense University of Madrid.

Leah Heneveld

Elementary Teacher

Leah received her B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish and certification in SEI (Structured English Immersion). In 2018, Leah spent the summer as an ESL teacher at a preschool and tutor at an orphanage home in Peru. She completed her student teaching in Nicaragua and gained some teaching experience in Arizona after graduation in 2019.

Alba María Vidrier Gazquez

Elementary Teacher

Alba was born in Valencia. Her passion for the English language took her to the United Kingdom, where she spent three years. Alba loves working with children, and she has been teaching English since she got her degree in English studies in the University of Valencia & Nottingham Trent University. She has experience working with the youngest children and is training now to become a primary teacher.

Rachel Bier

Elementary Teacher

She received her B.A. in Elementary Education from McDaniel College (MD) in 2021 and has been working as a substitute teacher in grades K-12 since 2018. Most recently, she was a fifth-grade teacher in her hometown, but she have experience working with a variety of elementary-level students, including teaching the preschool Sunday School class at my church for the last six years. She is a Google Certified Educator, so she loves finding new ways to incorporate technology into lessons and encouraging discovery and inquiry-based learning.

Elinor Crowe

Elementary Teacher

Elinor has been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years.  She has a Bible School Diploma, an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education. She taught near Toronto, Ontario, Canada before coming to LIFE.  Elinor has a passion for Hands-On Learning and loves to get her hands sticky doing art, science experiments and baking with the kids.

Mackenze Tezak

Art Teacher

Mackenze is originally from Maui, Hawaii. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and Bible from Moody Bible Institute. After graduating she moved to Nicaragua where she spent 4 years teaching 3rd grade in Nicaragua at an international school much like LIFE. She is passionate about fostering creativity and problem solving in her students.

Marta Jimenez

Spanish History and Language Teacher

Marta has degrees in Theology and Primary Education from the University Complutense in Madrid.  She has worked as a primary school teacher since 2008, including 4 years teaching in a bilingual school in Charlotte, North Carolina in the United States.  She has more than 20 years of experience working with children in various contexts, including serving as a camp director and coordinator of humanitarian trips to Romania and India, serving in schools and orphanages.

Charis Schneeberger

Music and Technology Teacher

Charis is the music and art teacher for PK-7th grade students. She received her degree in Music Education from a Bible University in Missouri after 5 years of study and a semester of student teaching. She has taught K-6 Music at an inner-city school for 2 years. She will be running our music and art program.

Doreen Riedel

Preschool Aide and ELL Instruction

Doreen has a Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 4) from ARA Institute in Christchurch, New Zealand, and is presently working on a degree in Early Childhood Education with Tertiary College, New Zealand. For the past 15 years she has worked as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Madrid and has experience teaching all ages and levels of English.

Marilyn Westergren

PE Teacher and Students Advocate

Marilyn Westergren and her husband Tim have lived in Tres Cantos for 28 years and are the founders of the Association Global Ventures and the directors of annual Global Ventures English Camp in Tres Cantos. Marilyn has a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and a Master in Counseling.

Donald Paige

Middle School Bible Teacher

Donald has a Bachelor degree in History and worked at a living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia as a Journeyman Silversmith and taught Colonial and Revolutionary War history. For 13 years he worked and learned from the silversmiths in Asunción del Paraguay as well as taught secondary social studies at Asuncion Christian Academy before coming to LIFE.

Trisha Birr

Middle School Science Teacher

Trisha is from South Dakota. She has a B.S. in Secondary Science Education and Christian Studies from Crown College. While in the United States, she worked as a library associate in an inner-city high school and as an aide in a Spanish-immersion preschool. She spent 8 years teaching middle and high school science in Prague, Czech Republic at an international Christian school. She also has experience as an athletic coordinator and enjoys coaching and playing different sports.

Lucía Sánchez

Spanish Language and Literature Teacher

Born in Madrid, with a degree in Humanities from the University of Alcalá de Henares, she teaches Spanish Language and Literature, History of Art, Philosophy, Psychology, Geography and History, has taught in the Spanish educational system and at the French International Lyceum. She firmly believes in Education as a tool to improve the world we inhabit and, ultimately, to be better people every day as responsible citizens.


Hannah Westergren

Middle School Teacher

Hannah, born and raised in Madrid, is a native English and Spanish speaker and has spent the majority of her life in cross-cultural contexts. She has a BA in History and Secondary Education from Wheaton College (IL) and is licensed in the state of Illinois. She completed her student teaching in Portugal and has spent the last four years teaching 7th-12th grade ELA and Social Studies in Nicaragua.

Elizabeth Patton

Middle School English Language Arts Teacher.

After earning a B.A. in English from The University of Alabama, Elizabeth moved to Memphis, Tennessee, for the Memphis Teacher Residency program. She earned her master’s degree in Urban Education from Union University and taught middle school in Memphis for five years. She loves sharing her passion for books with her students.

Debbie Banda

ELL Support

Debbie is a recent graduate from Dallas Baptist University. Gaining her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish education. She dedicated several summers as a camp Counselor for Pine Cove, a Christian Summer camp. Debbie has an enthusiastic spirit. She is ready to learn from Senior teachers and help children of different education levels to enhance their learning experience at LIFE.

Noelle Camenish

Preschool Aide

Noelle is a recent graduate from Ethnos360 Bible Institute, where she received her associates in biblical studies. Since a little girl, she has desired to work overseas. She does not have much experience with teaching but is excited to learn from the wonderful teachers at LIFE and to get to know the children there as she works as an assistant teacher!

Beatriz Troisi Murias

Cook and Lunch Service Responsible

Betty is trained as a Chemical Technician and worked 10 years as a Microbiologist in the National Institute of Microbiology as well as pharmaceutical labs in Argentina.  In addition, she has worked as a baker and has volunteered with Global Ventures in Tres Cantos, helping with catering during English Camp, as well as organizing workshops and activities for children and adults.

Eduardo Leal

Administrative support

Eduardo began his career in education as an administrative assistant at an international school in Venezuela. For 7 years he led student chaplaincy activities, social work, extracurricular activities and intercultural trips. He has a Bachelor of Arts and Biblical Studies at Grace School of Theology (Texas).