The Will of Honduran Women
In 1991, a mother named Nora Arita de Welchez wanted to give her young daughter the opportunity to receive a quality, bilingual education. At the time, however, her only option would be to send her daughter to the nearest city, three hours from Copán Ruinas.
After meeting other parents who had similar ambitions for their children, Nora decided that she would forge another path for her daughter. With the help of family, friends, and the community, Nora founded Mayatan Bilingual School.
In its first year, Mayatan was integrated by nine first-grade students in a one-room schoolhouse in downtown Copán. Soon, the school moved into a small building opposite the town's Mayan archeological site. Nora wore many hats in the early days, from driving the bus to teaching. In 1992, Mayatan took on its first foreign English-language teacher, a Peace Corps volunteer. As the first-class continued on to higher grades, new students were brought in below them.
Two other women who wanted English educations for their children joined Nora in 1995: Maria Eugenia Aviles and Mayra Arias. Early teachers and administrators, such as Secretary Marisol Welchez and Principal Norma Casasola, have continued their work at the school for nearly two decades. These women have each played an essential role in developing Mayatan into what it is today.
Nora Arita de Welchez and Mayatan's First Class
Copan Ruinas 1991
Help from Abroad
In 1998, Frank Hopkins and his wife, Belva, visited Mayatan Bilingual school while touring Copán with a Road Scholar / Elderhostel group. They were both moved by the school's mission and decided to return to Copán to volunteer.
Mr. Frank arrived in 2000 as principal, and Belva taught literature. At the time, our secondary school was meeting in Nora's house because of space constraints, and the school buildings near the archaeological park were found to be built on top of newly discovered Mayan Ruins. It was time to move. Mr. Frank designed buildings for a new campus and started the process of incorporating the Mayatan Foundation in Honduras so that American non-profit groups could more easily support our work.
In 2003, Frank and Belva returned to the United States, though their involvement with Mayatan continued. Frank helped to found an American non-profit, Hope For Tomorrow Inc., that supports bilingual education in Central America.
John Weber traveled from Missouri to Copán Ruinas in 2008 to teach science and math at Mayatan. Upon arriving, he tasked himself with developing Mayatan's technical infrastructure and fulfilling Nora's dream of offering high school classes. John oversaw our new technology classroom, brought wireless internet to our campus, and set up a relationship with the University of Missouri High School Distance Learning Program that allowed our students to receive American high school diplomas -- all while he continued to teach classes!
In 2012 Mayatan graduated the six members of its first-ever high school class, and the following year 14 more seniors graduated. John served as a college counselor to both graduating classes, going so far as to sponsor one Mayatan student from an impoverished family to attend college in the United States. John continues to support Mayatan as our High School math teacher.
Located in the hills above Copan Ruinas, Mayatan Bilingual School counts with an open campus surrounded by nature. The school hosts around 400 students from Copan Ruinas and its surroundings.
Our staff consists of a mixed group of local and international teachers from all over the world including different parts of Honduras, the United States, England, Russia, Colombia, Venezuela, and El Salvador just to name a few.
The school's curriculum fulfills the Honduran national requirements as well as the standards set by the Association of Bilingual Schools of Honduras (ABSH) and the American-accredited University of Missouri Distance Learning Program.
We are also proud to be part of the Association of International Baccalaureate® World Schools and host ONLINE college-level classes by top Honduran university UNITEC.