Creativity and Innovation in Guatemala: A week in the life of Karla de Pineda (Part 1)

In honor of World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21st, we would like to highlight the courageous and innovative leader Karla de Pineda of Edify. In a two-part series, we follow two weeks in her life learning and teaching school leaders in rural villages across Guatemala.


We start almost every day with intense traffic. Guatemala City is well known for its traffic no matter which way you are heading in the city, but it is always something hard to get used to. On Mondays, I try to avoid the craziness and prepare for my busy week. Below I will share with you some of the highlights of this week and the innovative things we are working on here at Edify, Guatemala. As the Guatemala Program Director, my role is to support all of the activities of the organization across the country, including trainings, reports, innovation, and providing feedback to support ongoing programming, so every day is something new and exciting (to learn more about Edify, please visit).


This week I had the opportunity to attend an exciting EdTech conference with two Edify colleagues. PROGRENTIS is an online literacy program that allows students to develop strategies and skills such as reading comprehension, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving through topics such as neuroscience. It supports teachers by tracking student learning and designing activities to help teachers provide interventions to best meet students’ needs. Our dream is to be able to bring this program to the low-fee private schools we support across the country.


We got a very early start today with a beautiful sunrise to try to avoid traffic. Today we visited with a group of trainers who provided training to five different school sites over the past few months. At the end of each training or module, school leaders are asked to share feedback on the what they liked and what they would recommend improving upon as well as to share how they plan to implement what they learned at their school sites through a google doc feedback form. Today we reviewed this data with the trainers and discussed ways in which they can better support school leaders in future trainings. The main feedback we provided was to try to create more opportunities for participant interactivity through questioning strategies and interactive activities–important conversations to make sure we are serving these schools in the best way possible. One of our key next steps will be to go to the schools and see how they are implementing these ideas in practice.


Each week a few days are dedicated to fieldwork in schools. Most of our schools are located in vulnerable and semi-rural areas, requiring quite a long drive, with some very beautiful and unique scenery. During these visits, we observe classrooms, hold conversations with the school leaders, and look for physical evidence of the learning that takes place in classrooms. Here are some examples of some student work that we saw today.


Part of the support we provide to trainers is to follow-up after we provide them with feedback and see how they implement this the next time they deliver training. Today I observed a trainer deliver the topic “Curricular Adaptations,” which focuses on how teachers can support the inclusion of students with special needs as well as students with different learning levels by making sure that learning is differentiated. Guatemala recently passed a law which requires teachers to include these “adecuaciones curriculares” in their lesson plans. This trainer had 65 participants, and we saw great improvement, seeing her use EdTech tools such as Kahoot!— a free tool that has participants answer questions an compete for high scores–to generate participant engagement.


While work keeps me pretty busy, always learning something new, I think it is important on the weekends to take some time to enjoy with my friends and family. This balance is important for me, and some of my hobbies include listening to jazz, classical music, and reading.

I really enjoy my position, and every day I am learning something new. Next week I will take you all on a journey to the school sites we work at to see what it looks like to support the change at the school and classroom level. Until next week! ¡Nos vemos!

We thank Karla for providing a window into her professional and personal life–pulling back the curtain on what it means to be an inspirational leader and women “changemaker” as well as how she finds balance following the International Women’s Day 2019 theme of #BalanceforBetter. Stay tuned for a week in the life of Karla de Pineda Part 2 coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

Paula and Maxie

Meet Karla de Pineda