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 teaching 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 life-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, so they too can experience the immense rewards of being able to communicate in another language and experience other cultures in that language. Plus, I might add, it’s always more fun to take others along for the adventure!”
Ruth recalls her stubbornness: “My kids are going to really learn Spanish, and so we started Sombrero Time out of our garage.”
We don’t like to compromise on our children’s opportunities. When we see a gap in their learning or a chance for them to leap ahead in their growth, we will do whatever it takes. That’s why Sombrero Time was created. We wanted to give our children advantages and help them become better young people, in a fun and hard-working learning environment.