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 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.

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

Instructor
Angie Valerrama

Angie Valerrama

Instructor
Arlene Hill

Arlene Hill

Instructor
Carol Brown

Carol Brown

Instructor
Celina Ulloa

Celina Ulloa

Instructor
Fatima Patalano

Fatima Patalano

Instructor
Salud Wagner

Salud Wagner

Instructor
Zoraida McKeon

Zoraida McKeon

Instructor

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

Learn more about the difference a second language makes

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