Kimberly Marín Jarquín, like many Costa Ricans, never received her high school degree. She stopped attending school in the 8th grade. But today, at 22 years old, she is back in school and hopes to receive her high school diploma.
Last month, The Costa Rican School of Opportunities opened in San José and has 75 adult students working toward obtaining a high school degree. It is the only free private school in the country, and maybe Central America, designed to get adults back into the classroom to finish their secondary degrees.
The School’s adult students attend classes in the afternoon and evening and span grades K -12.
“I am so thankful for the possibility of getting my degree. I know it will be hard, but this degree will give me a better job and a better life,” Marín said.
The school was the brainchild of Robert Flanzer, a United States citizen from Atlanta with many deep ties to Costa Rica. Flanzer is married to a Costa Rican and spends much of the year living with his wife and children in the La Uruca neighborhood of San José.
Flanzer was aware that many Costa Ricans leave school at a young age and never return. He also knew that having a secondary degree opens doors and provides for greater economic success. With a private foundation grant, Flanzer began the hard work of turning his vision into a reality.
He first assembled a team of United States citizens, continued to fundraise and then began hiring certified teachers in San José.
“Education is always a demonstrated path of success. It provides the basis of a lifetime of economic achievement,” Flanzer said.
His belief in education is so firm that Robert created a Foundation in the United States called The Costa Rican Educational Foundation. It, like the school here in Costa Rica, is 100 percent supported by charitable donations.
“Our dream is to be so well-funded that we can open additional schools around Costa Rica,” he said.
For now, however, his attentions are focused on the staff of nine teachers and 75 students here in San José. This includes not just ensuring that all the adult students graduate, but also that job opportunities are available when they graduate.
“We will provide employers in San José and beyond with bright, ambitious and accomplished employees,” Flanzer said. “We want to create relationships with companies here in Costa Rica and provide a pipeline of future employees for their business.”
Within a year, the school’s first graduates will receive their diplomas and be ready to take on the world.
Todd Scala is the Head of Fundraising for the foundation that funds The Costa Rican School of Opportunities.
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