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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Learn more about the difference a second language makes

Download our free ebook: “5 Surprising Facts About Learning a Second Language”