Founders Maggie and Tom Washa are once again retiring, and have closed La Gloria English School as of June 27th, 2013.  We thank you for your support over the last 10 years and hope you continue to enjoy life on Isla Mujeres.


La Gloria English School (LGES)
A Mexican civil association

The school is legally designated as a Mexican not-for-profit civil association.

The founders of the school

 Maggie (a retired physical therapist) and Tom (a retired firefighter) Washa began visiting the island from Wisconsin for a few months at a time starting in 1991. After listening to many conversations among local people about their need for an English school on Isla, Maggie decided to get certified as an ESL teacher. When a Mayan friend showed her an empty lot in one of Isla's poorest neighborhoods and told her it was where to build the school, the future was set.

Tom and Maggie Washa

In 2003 Maggie and Tom used their own money, time and sweat to purchase the lot and construct the building in the La Gloria community. The mission of the school is to give the residents of Isla Mujeres the opportunity to learn English regardless of their financial resources. It opened in 2004 with a small group of dedicated volunteers teaching four classes. From its inception, the school has been managed on an unpaid, volunteer basis by its founder, Maggie Washa.

The teachers

 Abby Ealey is from Kentucky and a graduate of Murray State University with a degree in Elementary Education. After graduation, she spent two years teaching 5th grade in Kentucky, and enjoyed traveling to teach in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica during the summers. Last year, Abby served as an individual volunteer for The House of Hope in Puerto Lempira, Honduras, where she served as a caretaker/teacher of malnourished and abandoned children from La Moskitia.  She is fluent in Spanish and we are delighted to have her at La Gloria English School.  

Abby Ealey


Cecilia Knopfler was born in Argentina and lived there for many years. Fluent in Spanish, English, and French, she worked in a summer language school in Ireland, where she gained insight into teaching methods and the students' learning exerience. It was during her stay in Ireland that she developed her interest in becoming an English teacher. She taught English for 18 months in Laos, applying her ideas on improving the students' experience and working hard to make the classes interesting and memorable. She says the biggest challenge was "to create a speaking course from scratch. I had to design the content, materials, and evaluation criteria." Cecilia is also interested in art, photography, reading and writing. 

Cecilia Knopfler


The staff

The administrative duties of the school are shared by three sisters: Lupe, Marbella and Betty Chi Tuz. They each bring a unique set of complementary skills and provide the school with an indispensable connection to the local community.

Rosi Ramos is a native of Mexico City and holds dual Mexican-US citizenship. She has a bachelor's degree from Loyola College and an M.S. in speech and language pathology from Seton Hall University. Her belief in the importance of dual-language learning led her to work with young children in New York City for 32 years. She is moving to Isla Mujeres and we are delighted to have her on the staff of the School. 

If you have questions or communications about sponsoring a student or volunteering your time or donating items to the School, she is the person who will help you.  Rosi can be reached

Rosi Ramos


The students

The school teaches students ranging from 4-6 years old (Kinder class) to adult evening classes. Enrolment at the school is about 300 per year, with roughly 100 students in classes at any given time. The tuition is set deliberately low - $1,000 pesos plus a $100 peso registration fee - about $100 USD. Nevertheless 58% of the students are unable to make full payments without a scholarship. For this reason, the School relies on donations from visitors and contributions to the Friends of La Gloria English School.

Friends of La Gloria English School (FOLGES)
A U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

A U.S. non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, FOLGES raises funds to support La Gloria English School. This organization pays the teachers’ stipends and capital expenses associated with the school. It is also a means to solicit and distribute scholarships and in-kind services including design and printing projects. FOLGES is able to provide tax receipts for donations from citizens of the United States.

Maggie Washa has been the volunteer director of La  Gloria English School from its inception.  She has been the guiding force and provided the vision for the school from Day One.


Friends of La Gloria English School: Governance

FOLGES is overseen by a Board of Directors made up of dedicated supporters of the school. They understand the importance of La Gloria English school in the lives of the local people and want to insure its continued existence in these challenging times. FOLGES has recently expanded the Board to include people from all parts of the United States. If you have interest in joining our Board to help us in this mission, please contact us at


FOLGES Board of Directors

Kelly Thompson, President,  Madison, Wisconsin

Mark Thompson, Vice-President,  Memphis, Tennessee

Guy Trgo, Treasurer,  Oregon, Wisconsin

Jane Adams,  Durham, North Carolina

Jackie Conlon, Milwaukie, Oregon

Jan (Moby) Gerken, Eagan, Minnesota

Jennifer Kaufman, Washington Township, New Jersey