Our Story

Co-Founder Ruth Finsthwait’s life was forever changed by a six-month trip to Costa Rica. After taking seven years of conventional Spanish classes in her youth, she found her skills lacking, and enrolled in the Costa Rican immersion program to further develop her growing passion for the language and culture. Ruth emerged from that experience fluent in Spanish, prepared to enter a bilingual credential program, and convinced that immersion was the best way to learn a language.

As she began her career, Ruth experienced firsthand the professional and personal opportunities and competitive advantages that come with being bilingual: enhanced cultural empathy, strong work ethic and resilience in varied learning environments.

Desiring these same benefits for their own children, Ruth and her husband Dave searched for immersive language opportunities in their community. Finding none, they gathered a group of neighborhood kids and started their own! With a sombrero on her head, she spoke only Spanish to the group of kids who came to learn. From those early days teaching out of their garage, Sombrero Time has been fueled by the mission of providing children the advantages to help them become better young people, in a fun and hardworking learning environment.

“Language immersion is hard work and a long journey, but the ability to really speak Spanish is incredibly fun and rewarding.  I want my own children to have a language education that produces functional skills, unlike my early experience. Plus, it’s always more fun to take others along for the adventure!”

Did You Know?

U.S. classrooms produce proficiency in less than one percent of American adults

AND

The U.S. job market has doubled its demand for bilingual candidates in the last 5 years

Ruth Finsthwait

Ruth Finsthwait

Co-Founder and CEO

Ruth Finsthwait, co-founder & CEO of Sombrero Time and Spanish Curriculum, is dedicated to teaching Spanish through immersion and to developing the whole child. She is the author of Spanish Curriculum and a sought-after speaker at conferences and workshops. Ruth graduated from UC Davis with a degree in human development, earning her Masters of Science degree in special education and her BCLAD from San Jose State University. She is married to David Finsthwait, has three children and resides in Granite Bay, CA.

David Finsthwait

David Finsthwait

Co-Founder and COO

David Finsthwait is co-founder and chief operating officer at Sombrero Time and Spanish Curriculum. With a background in sales and operations in technology, retail sports equipment, and start-ups, he manages the day to day operations of the two organizations. He graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Kinesiology. He’s an avid outdoor enthusiast and mountain bike racer. He is married to Ruth and is the father of three children. He currently resides in Granite Bay, CA,

Our Dedicated Sombrero Time Staff

Amanda DeLoa

Amanda DeLoa

Lead Teacher

Amanda has been a Spanish teacher at Sombrero Time for 8 years. She is passionate about teaching children, from 2-year-olds learning their first words to high school seniors studying for AP exams. Her focus is the Advanced Before School class and the Advanced Homeschool class at Granite Bay. Amanda grew up bilingual in Northern California before studying Spanish and Latin American & Hemispheric Studies at UC Davis. She loves singing, playing guitar, and teaching yoga, pilates, and cycling classes.

Ana Reed

Ana Reed

Teacher

Ana Reed grew up in Guatemala and brings a passion for developing cultural awareness and helping students acquire language skills to communicate in their community and beyond. Ana teaches preschool and kindergarten to 5th Grade, levels 1-3 at Brighton Schools in Folsom and Granite Bay. Ana and her husband live in Penryn and have four children and five grandchildren. When not teaching Spanish, she enjoys reading, sewing, and traveling. Ana also takes care of her mandarin orchard and enjoys making mandarin marmalade, and she is also learning how to play the ukulele.

Angie Valderrama

Angie Valderrama

Lead Teacher

Angie Valderrama is a Lead Teacher for Sombrero Time and has been teaching Spanish for 9 years. She loves working with children every day, sharing her culture with them, and expanding their world through language. She focuses teaching students in middle school at Loomis Basin Charter school. Angie was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, before coming to Sacramento and instantly falling in love with California. She loves cooking, sightseeing, going to the movies and spending time at home with her family.

Antoinette Ferrari

Antoinette Ferrari

Teacher

Antoinette Ferrari is a new Kindergarten Teacher with Sombrero Time. She brings a passion for teaching Spanish and helping kids develop skills that will positively impact them for life. Antoinette is teaching Kindergarten at Sierra Elementary. She learned Spanish in Guadalajara, Mexico and studied abroad in Europe. She has two daughters, and finds joy in doing community volunteering for different organizations who support kids in need.

Arlene Hill

Arlene Hill

Teacher

Arlene has been an instructor with Sombrero Time for 10 years with a passion for opening young minds to be appreciative of other cultures. Her focus is Basicos and Fundamentos at Loomis Basin Charter School and Sierra Elementary. Arlene learned Spanish from her parents who immigrated from Mexico. Growing up in Sacramento, the culture and language were always at the center of family gatherings. Arlene lives in Rocklin with her husband and three teenagers and enjoys attending their sporting events, as well as running, cycling, and yoga.

Carol Brown

Carol Brown

Teacher

Carol Brown has been an instructor at Sombrero Time for 9 years and she loves to see students’ self-confidence grow as they learn to communicate in Spanish. Carol teaches Kinder, Beginner, Intermediate, Home School and Private Tutoring at the Granite Bay center. Her mother is Chilean, and she grew up speaking Spanish in Chile and Brazil. She and her husband have lived in Granite Bay for the past 20 years with their four children and their seven grandchildren.

Celina Ulloa

Celina Ulloa

Teacher

Celina is an instructor with Sombrero Time, bringing a passion for teaching Spanish to all levels. She focuses on Rojo and Verde at the Granite Bay center. Celina learned Spanish at a young age through her parents and family and continued to learn throughout her education, completing her International Baccalaureate credits in Spanish. Celina is Mexican-American and enjoys visiting her relatives in Mexico. She is also a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants.

Elyse Blanco

Elyse Blanco

Teacher

Elyse Blanco, born and raised in Venezuela, brings her passion to reach students at all levels and instill in them a love of learning a new language. She has AA degree in marketing and has been working as a bilingual teacher for preschool, TK and elementary schools for the last 4 years, and helps ESL students at Folsom Lake College. Elyse is a mother of one college student and one middle school student. Elyse and her family moved from Dubai to the U.S. five years ago with the mission and goal to keep the family motivated and enthusiastic to love their culture and language. Elyse and her family have traveled around the world and have lived on 3 different continents. She loves going to the gym, biking, listening and dancing to Latin music, and cooking for her family and friends.

Jennyfer Llamas

Jennyfer Llamas

Site Manager & Teacher

Jennyfer is the Site Manager and Spanish teacher at Sombrero Time. Bringing a passion for great customer service and second language acquisition, she finds nothing more rewarding than seeing people happy and satisfied with a service. Her teaching focus is Home School students in levels 2 and 3 at the Granite Bay location. Jennyfer also oversees all activities and Spanish classes at the Granite Bay facility. Jennyfer was born in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, but raised in Carson City, Nevada where she learned Spanish at an early age at home. Her parents knew it was imperative that Jennyfer and her siblings learned Spanish first. English was not to be spoken while at home, as her parents would say, “From the door out you may speak English, but behind closed doors we speak Spanish.” Jennyfer enjoys seeing wildlife, running and spending time with her family back home in Nevada.

Salud Wagner

Salud Wagner

Teacher

Salud has been an instructor with Sombrero Time for 9 years. She loves to make the experience of learning a language an interactive and exciting adventure. Her focus is pre-school and elementary at Brighton Private School in Folsom. Salud was born and raised in Spain and has her BA in Spanish and AA degree in Arts and Culture. She lives in Folsom with her husband, son, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and has a daughter at UC Berkeley. She also loves soccer and is a big fan of Real Madrid.

Vilma Pooler

Vilma Pooler

Teacher

Señora Pooler is a native from the beautiful country of Costa Rica and is very proud to teach her native Spanish language and culture to Sombrero Time children. She has been working in education for twelve years and has a B.A. in education from Universidad Latina de C.R. Living in the United States for 17 years has given her a better understanding of the process of teaching a foreign language. “I am pleased to be your child’s Spanish teacher this year,” Vilma explains, “I am very interested in having your support and working as a team with your family in order to have a very successful school year. ¡Pura Vida!”

Zoraida Mckeon

Zoraida Mckeon

Teacher

Zoraida has been an instructor with Sombrero Time for three years. After a childhood of extensive world traveling with her family, Zoraida has been passionate about instilling her enthusiasm for multilingualism in her young students to help them become adaptable, understanding global citizens. Her focus is the second level program. Zoraida was born in Bogotá, Columbia and moved to the States at a young age. She has traveled through Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Become a Part of the Team

To learn all about being a part of the talented and dedicated Sombrero Time team, visit our JOIN page by clicking HERE. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Serving Families and Communities through Spanish Language Learning.

4500+

Students & families served

35+

Spanish Speaking Countries Studied and/or Visited

10+

Years of experience

8

Team Members

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