about us

Carolina Jimenez
Adventures in Spanish Instructor
Carolina was born and raised in Colombia, South America. She moved to Portland, Oregon in her late teens to learn English and to earn her Bachelor's degree in Theology at Portland Bible College. Carolina has worked for various nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross in administrative positions but has always loved working with kids. She has been a volunteer teacher at her church for 12 years. Carolina loves spending time with her husband and two children, Daniel & Olivia, who she enjoys teaching the most.

Nina Kelley
Operations & Administrative Assistant
Nina was born and raised in Kansas City. She attended Kansas State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She taught preschool, fourth grade and sixth grade while living in Kansas. After moving to Portland seven years ago she became a volunteer in her children’s schools, organizing programs like Battle of the Books and One School One Book. This was a great fit since she loves to work with kids and she loves to organize big projects. When she isn’t running her kids to their events, you can find her volunteering at the local high school, searching for her new favorite book at the library or taking the family dogs on walks. 

Edy Gonzales Torres
Adventures in Spanish (Spanish Language in Play) substitute instructor
Edy was born in the Incan city Cusco, Peru and spent his childhood in the sacred valley. He began mentoring at a Catholic orphanage and worked with children ages 2-15 teaching English, Spanish and Quechua. After completing his bachelor’s degree in economics he continued to pursue his passion for helping others. He provided interpretation for medical missions and was active in supporting community members in hospice care. Through his work, Edy developed many strong relationships and started a successful non-profit organization, Desea, Peru that provided water filtration units and corresponding education to many rural communities. After the birth of his son, he realized how many opportunities being multilingual has provided him. Allowing him to connect with various cultures, communities and people in a way that is very difficult to describe but is a priceless gift. Edy is excited to continue teaching and mentoring in order to make our community better.
​Zoraya Henao
Adventures in Spanish (Spanish Language in Play) instructor
Zoraya was born and raised in a small city near Monterrey, NL, Mexico. She started her teaching career early while still in college, teaching English as a Second Language to children and adults. She majored in Education with a concentration in Educational Psychology. Once she finished college, she went to Australia for a year in a volunteer program. Upon returning, she went on to complete a graduate degree in Gestalt psychotherapy. Zoraya moved to the United States in the 2005. Living in Washington, DC, and Maryland for the past 8 years, she began a MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Zoraya moved to Portland this year, and is in love with the city! She currently works part-time with individuals with disabilities in a community inclusion program. Some of her favorite things include getting out and about around the city and exploring all it has to offer. She also loves cooking Mexican and Colombian food, especially arepas. Her mother made sure she knew how to make arepas because her father is from Colombia.
Ben Citalán
Adventures in Spanish (Spanish Language in Play) instructor
Ben was born and raised in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, where he received his certificate to teach Spanish at El Portal Spanish School. He has lived in Portland for the past five years, where his daughter was born. His daughter was his inspiration to keep moving forward with his Spanish teaching career. He volunteered in 2012 as an Assistant Spanish Teacher at Atkinson Elementary, where he had the opportunity to continue as an instructor at Hands-On Language. He is currently completing an English and Spanish Teaching Certificate at People * Places * Things. "I'm always happy for the fact that I can facilitate the crossroads of culture, ultimately helping people connect and learn, regardless of age, background or any other barrier.''
Delia Garcia
Adventures in Spanish Instructor
Delia was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. She received her degree in Education in 2000 and also obtained a diploma in Special Education Studies. She gained experience working in an elementary school for six years, and has worked with various groups of teachers performing social services in rural areas Mexico. Teaching is one of Delia's passions, as she enjoys being a part of the learning process with young children. Delia lives in Beaverton with her ​husband, Abraham, and their three children Alejandro, Zulianny, and Sebastian. She loves spending time with family, traveling, and going to the theater.

Seanya Pastrana Mondragon
Adventures in Spanish Instructor
Seanya was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico. She came to Portland with her family and completed her diploma at Cleveland High School in 2010. She was involved in Milagro Theater as an actress where she developed her artistic skills and found passion in teaching young students and coordinating events. She is very involved with being an after school teacher and learned to gain trust with parents who came from different cultures and backgrounds. She obtained her Associates and also received the Global Studies Focus award at PCC and was an active member in MECHa, International Club, Spanish Club and Muslim Student Association. She is currently at Portland State University finishing her double major in International Studies for Community Development and a B.A. in Spanish as well as being the official Dream PSU event Coordinator for DACA students. Her main goal is to teach young children how to love, respect and appreciate diversity in the United States by her knowledge of international studies as well as her Hispanic heritage. 
Ana Alfaro Hernandez
Adventures in Spanish Instructor
Ana was born in Michoacan, Mexico, but raised in Portland, Oregon. She is currently attending Portland Community College where she is pursuing her goal to become a Registered Nurse. As the oldest in her family she was responsible for taking care of her younger siblings and was involved in their education for many years. She enjoys volunteering in her community as a medical interpreter and as a TA in after school SUN programs. In her free time she loves to play soccer, run and bike with her friends. Ana is really excited to be part of the PELP team and is looking forward to scaffolding the language development of young children.

Jessica has been involved with PELP in many different roles over the last nine years...as an administrative assistant, a teacher and now co-owner and director of the Spanish Language in Play branch of PELP. Jessica was first exposed to Spanish through language classes in junior high school in the Washington, DC public school system where she grew up. She didn’t become fluent in Spanish, however, until she spent a life-changing college semester in Cuautla, Mexico.

Just a few years out of college Jessica fulfilled her dream by landing a job in Cuernavaca, Mexico where she lived and worked for two years. Since returning to the US, Jessica has earned her M.A. in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, worked at a binational, non-profit environmental organization in San Diego, and as an elementary substitute teacher in Chula Vista, CA in bilingual and immersion classrooms. 

When Jessica is not busy with PELP or being a mom to her three beautiful children, she may be found playing racquetball, cooking, reading, picking Oregon blackberries, or attending one of the many cultural events that Portland has to offer.  

Christina is one of the PELP founders and has been developing curriculum and teaching our Baby Sign Language in Play classes since PELP's formation in 2006. She has her Master's Degree in Speech Language Pathology and brings extensive knowledge about child language development to all of her classes. It was during her practice as a Speech Therapist that she began using American Sign Language Signs with young children who were having difficulty communicating.  From the first time she saw a child sign, she was hooked!  She continues to be awed by the ability and desire of the youngest of children to communicate and the way signing connects and bonds families.  

Christina has been working with children for as long as she can remember and has been described by parents as having a "profound respect" and "huge heart" for young children. Christina also has a heart for new parents! After becoming a mother herself Christina found a passion for supporting parents during the life changing transition to parenthood. She strives to bring connection and community to all of her work.

In her spare time, Christina enjoys music (she began playing piano at 3!), playing with her children (Nolan, 6, Scarlett, 3), photography and exploring the beautiful pacific NW. 
Christina Schabow
Director/Instructor Sign Language in Play
Jessica Swartz Amezcua
Director/Instructor Adventures in Spanish
Rebeca Alama Gonzalez
Adventures in Spanish Instructor
Rebeca was born in Caracas, Venezuela. She has had a passion for communication starting at a very young age. At age 3 she started learning English. She found great interest in talking and playing with children from her neighborhood as a child and her neighbor happened to be a pre-school teacher that was running a Spanish summer camp. She recruited Rebeca as an assistant when she was only 12 years old and her love of language and teaching blossomed. Rebeca spent 14 years studying on a heavy and completely bilingual (Spanish and English) curriculum. When graduating high school Rebeca, went on to study Film Studies as she babysat on the side and became a filmmaker and screenwriter working in both Spanish and English. Rebeca is thrilled to be part of PELP and be able to give back the same opportunities that were given to her.  
Kris Jensen
Adventures in Spanish Instructor
Kris started learning Spanish while working in a kitchen with all Spanish speakers. From there he went back to school to get his degree in Spanish and was also a medical interpreter. Spanish is a passion of his; he is excited about teaching it to others and loves working with children. Kris grew up in SW Portland and lives there now with his wife and 3 children, ages 6, 4 and 1. He previously worked with Spanish speaking families in the Healthy Families program at Lifeworks Northwest, teaching families with children ages 0 to 3 child development, healthy attachment and positive discipline. Kris loves being in nature with his family (or sometimes alone in silence!), enjoys playing music and cooking and spending time with his wife, Emily.
Pablo was born in Arizona, but was raised and lived most of his life in Argentina. He has always pursued creative endeavours and focused his studies on cinematography. While working in filmmaking, he especially enjoyed directing child actors and was inspired to keep investing in youth throughout his career. He has also worked as an audiovisual translator for many years and taught English classes for kids. Pablo is a traveler and decided to settle in Portland after falling in love with the city. Music is one of his biggest passions and he enjoys playing the guitar with friends.

Ana Cecilia (Ceci) Pratt Orozco
Adventures in Spanish Instrutor
Pablo Usunoff
Adventures in Spanish Instructor

Ceci is originally from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She holds a bachelors in Finance Administration, but has always been involved in education projects. When she moved to Portland in 2013 she volunteered with a Montessori School and for Happy Mindful People. Working with kids has been very inspiring and she looks forward to sharing a piece of her home country with her students.  She's also a professional racquetball player and a certified yoga teacher. She plays tournaments in the United States and Mexico. When she's not playing racquetball, you can find her practicing lots of yoga, hiking the Gorge, cooking vegan meals with her husband, reading, and enjoying time with family and friends. Ceci has taught with us before and we are so excited to have her back teaching with us. 

​Tanya Bae
​Registration & Administrative Assistant
Tanya grew up in Portland, Oregon. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Oregon State University and a Masters in Social Work from Portland State University. Tanya worked for Oregon Department of Human Services/Child Welfare for 10 years before staying home with her children. She has volunteered extensively in her children’s schools and soccer teams over the last 10 years. As a volunteer, she has loved to help bring valuable experiences to children at school and in the community. She has also been a business manager for a family restaurant. Tanya lives in the Beaverton area with her husband and three children. She loves spending time with her family, playing games, going to the movies, and traveling.