Louise’s Story

Louise Brunberg at the home of the Principal, Rosario Castillo Urrutia

In 1993, Louise Brunberg had just turned 65, and she had just retired after 30 years of teaching elementary education in Westport, CT. She wanted to travel and spend more time with her family. But something happened when she traveled to Nicaragua. She met a group of children…and their families…and began to understand the difficulties they faced. Upon her first visits to Nagarote, Nicaragua, Louise found that the families were struggling with grinding poverty. The parents knew that education was their childrens’ best hope for a better future, but educational opportunities were limited…and too expensive for many. 

When Louise arrived in 1993, public school was not free, and so many families could not afford to pay tuition. Furthermore, there were additional costs associated with sending them to school, such as paying for required uniforms, shoes, transportation, and school supplies. Saddest of all was the reality that many families could  not even properly feed their children, at times only eating one meal a day, if at all.

Faced with this reality, Louise decided to take up a new, life goal. She reached into her own modest retirement and built a soup kitchen, so that those same families could at least have one, free meal per day. Over time the kitchen evolved into a small school, one that would provide an education completely free of cost, and even provide two meals a day for the children.  It had no name, but the local families began calling it “the School of Louise’s Dream (Escuela de Sueños de Luisa).

Later, when others offered their financial help, Louise and a volunteer board establish the Right To Learn, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible charitable foundation based in Florida.  Our “Foundation” works to gather donations in order to fund all the expenses for the school. 

Students using Montessori educational materials

School of Louise’s Dreams has seen steady growth over the last 11 years. Over 200 students, from preschool to 4th grade, attend the school daily. Uniform, shoes, transportation, educational supplies, and two meals are provided free of cost. Furthermore, School of Louise’s Dreams isn’t just any educational program, but one based on the Montessori Method– arguably the best educational program for developing young minds.  Louise has attracted expert Montessori teachers and trainers to visit the school and help train the local teachers.  The results have been revolutionary changes for the town of Nagarote.  <link to Montessori articles from Marie or Robin in this paragraph.> 

Louise has attracted a large group of other volunteers over the years. These have included: veteran Montessori teacherMarie Scott, helping to train the teachers; artist David Chatowsky, who introduced an arts curriculum; contractor James Johnson, who’s worked on improving the school’s infrastructure; and Alex Fuller-Young and Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, Peace Corps volunteers working in the area of teacher training. 

“Providing these kids with access to the best teaching methodologies in the world, Louise has helped give them a real chance.”
    – Marie Scott, Board Member, The Right To Learn, Inc.

The first generation of students is now in their late teens and early 20, and the school has expanded its programs to help those former students who now want/need to attend the local college. Donations to the “Right To Learn College Program” – which has some seed funding from a church group in Rhode Island – have meant the difference between these young adults dropping out and completing their degree. One of our graduates, Elias Martinez, has recently completed a computer technician degree, and he volunteers with the school to support the new computers that are being introduced into the curriculum.  

The children, during the lunch break

School of Louise’s Dreams is a truly unique, and special gift bestowed on the families of Nagarote. It is a place that is recognized by the community as a thing of true good, and a product of deep caring. The existence of the school is mostly the result of the monumental care, effort, and sacrifice given by Louise Brunberg during her17 years of involvment with the community. However, the contributions of the many volunteers and donors has been crucial in helping Louise realize her dream, and we hope that you will help to ensure that it lives on.

So, welcome to our School!  Please sign up for our monthly email newsletter so we can update you on our progress and activities. And please read on — to learn more about our School, our kids and our programs.