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History and Mission

Isla Mujeres is a small island off the coast of Cancun that some people think is a little corner of paradise. Once it was a sleepy fishing village with white beaches and wonderful sunsets. Now, as word has gotten out, it is also a tourist destination with great food, fun shopping and casual-to-luxurious accommodations.  The Mayan culture on Isla is central to its charm. Isleños are warm and welcoming to the visitors of Isla Mujeres.  But many of these  Mayan people struggle to make ends meet.  The ability to speak English has become critical to making a living wage in the new tourist-based economy.
Long-time Isla-lovers Tom and Maggie Washa (from Wisconsin) began spending several months every winter on Isla, and noticed this need.  So Maggie, a licensed physical therapist, took training to get certified as an ESL teacher.  After teaching a few English courses in the Mayan community it became apparent that a location was needed for a real English School.  So in 2003, Tom (by then a retired Madison firefighter) and Maggie pulled together their private funds, bought a lot and built a small school in the La Gloria community.  After months of red tape, the La Gloria English School was established as a not-for-profit Mexican Civil Association.

The school is located in the La Gloria neighborhood in the heart of the Mexican community on Isla. The mission of the school is to give the residents of Isla Mujeres the opportunity to learn English regardless of their financial resources.


The school opened in February of 2004 with a small cadre volunteers to teach 4 classes, and great hopes for the future.   Now, in 2007 there are 2 full time licensed English teachers, a full time office staff and 8 different ongoing classes in English.  Enrollment at the school averages about 100 students at any given time.  The tuition is deliberately low, but nevertheless more than half the students receive at least a partial scholarship. No one is turned away for lack of funds.   For this reason, ongoing financial assistance is required to keep the school doors open.  The U.S. non-profit "Friends of La Gloria English School Inc" was created to help support the school.

The Mexican non-profit Civil Association "La Gloria English School A.C." generates income through the tuition for classes, low-cost clothing sales at the school, and donations from tourists. There is no support from the Mexican government. The expenses associated with running the school include utilities, monthly accountant fees and the salaries and health insurance of the office staff. The Director Maggie Washa does not receive a salary. It costs about $1,500 USD per month to pay the operational costs of the school on Isla Mujeres.

The U.S. non-profit, 'Friends of La Gloria English School Inc.' (FOLGES) was created to support the school, but the IRS restricts these funds from paying for ongoing operational expenses at the school in Mexico. Therefore these donations pay the teacher stipends, housing costs, and any capital expenditures for the school. There are no salaried employees of FOLGES.   Several generous in-kind donations, including the creation of a brochure, the school logo and this website have helped keep administrative costs to a minimum.  The annual budget for FOLGES is currently about $24,000.  We deeply appreciate your interest in this special school, there is no way it would survive without your support!



English classes

The school is currently offering basic and intermediate classes in spoken English with emphasis on oral communication through pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. We are teaching adults, teens and children. Classes are in session Monday through Thursday throughout the year, with breaks for holidays and registrations. The schedule for 2007/2008 is tentatively set as follows:

Course schedule 2008:
Jan 7 – Mar 6
Mar 31 – May 22
Jun 2 – July 24
Sept 10 – Oct 25
Nov 5 – Dec 18

When not in session, the school is usually open during weekdays and you are welcome to drop by. When classes are in session we prefer that you come either on Tuesdays between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM or on Fridays between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. We are happy to give you a tour during these hours. This is also the best time to bring donations to the school. Your help in this matter means a lot to us!

Schedule of classes - Jan 7 - March 6 2008 (Mon - Thurs)

9:00 – 10:00 AM

Adults basic
10:15 – 11:00 AM Kids intermediate
1:30 – 2:15 PM Kinder
2:30 – 3:15 PM High school
3:30 – 4:15 PM Kids intermediate
4:30 - 5:15 PM Kids basic
6:30 – 7:30 PM Adults basic
7:45 – 8:45 PM Adults ongoing
9:00 – 10:00PM Adults intermediate

Children's library

We have a small on-site children's library to encourage reading. Before the school was built, most children had few if any books available to them, except school textbooks. Now they have the opportunity to read for enjoyment. Donations of bilingual and Spanish children's books are appreciated. At this time we have plenty of (and do not have space for any more) books in English.


Copyright © 2000-2007 [La Gloria English School]