Our Educational Model

Whether students attend Safe Passage for a full day or supplement their public schooling with our half-day programs, they are completely absorbed in learning, growing, and exploring their world.  In 2016, Safe Passage introduced Expeditionary Learning, a groundbreaking methodology that combines on- and off-site activities for an authentic, engaging learning experience.


Full-Day Education

Early Childhood Development
Our holistic approach fills eager minds with encouragement and educational opportunities, making sure every child in the Guatemala City dump community gets a great start.

And because students can’t learn on empty stomachs, we provide well-balanced meals, healthy snacks, and vitamins each day to nourish growing young bodies.

At our early childhood education center, we utilize Montessori-based methodology Planting Seeds to provide engaging, interactive activities to foster self-esteem and confidence in our youngest students. Planting Seeds prioritizes experiential learning and a loving, caring relationship between teachers and students and emphasizes learning through play—what children do naturally.


Pre-school students internalize knowledge through active, hands-on experiences in:

  • creative expression through arts activities
  • group and independent reading and writing
  • hands-on building activities and arithmetic practice
  • English language through movement and dance

Each day starts and ends with circle time—a time to gather together, read, sing, and share stories.

Grades 3 to 6

For our students in grades 3 to 6, we use a hands-on, immersive methodology based on Expeditionary Learning as a continuation to our Montessori-based Planting Seeds. As we expand our full-day program, our number of full-day students will grow, too.

Hands-on, experiential learning is what Expeditionary Learning is all about, and we’re focusing our teachers on creating community-based expeditions for our students. Lessons with a focus on Mayan creation stories or the integration of literature and math exercises can be brought to life using project-based learning and active approaches.

EL asks students to move beyond the classroom and work together on relevant, engaging projects that involve investigating issues in their community and beyond. “Expeditions” weave together science, social studies, reading, math, technology and the arts, and show the students how their new skills and knowledge can be applied in the real world.

An essential component of EL is the system of advisory meetings involving 10-15 students—called “Crew”—who check in with each other daily with their Crew leader. In these sessions, our guiding values of respect, honesty, teamwork, responsibility, and trust are implemented and enforced.

Half-Day Educational Enrichment

Grades 7 and up

The Safe Passage Educational Reinforcement Center (CRE) is a hub of education and activity where students receive healthy meals and educational support from Guatemalan teachers and international and national volunteers.

Safe Passage students in grades 7 and above attend local public schools for the standard Guatemalan four-hour school day. Students then travel to Safe Passage for a nutritious lunch, homework assistance, and engaging educational activities for an additional 4 hours each day.


Extracurricular Classes

Because the process of discovery is as important as educational achievements, Safe Passage teachers complement public school education with unique activities that encourage students to actively learn. These classes solidify education principles and foster individual development:

We strive to create an extraordinary learning environment that fosters independent discovery and exploration. We provide enriching, supportive educational programming that gives our students a powerful sense of competency and self-worth.

At Safe Passage, we give students a strong foundation so that they are better prepared for life beyond the classroom.