Instituto Estelar Bilingue was founded by Bethany Kirk from California, USA, in November, 2010, and the school officially opened in January, 2011. After teaching for over ten years in California and Costa Rica, and then directing English programs at two major institutes in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, she decided to start her own school in Liberia. She saw the need for the locals to learn English in order to work in tourism and other professions, and she felt that Liberia was a perfect spot for a Spanish immersion program due to its strong cultural traditions and close proximity to beaches, national parks, and an international airport. With an extremely limited budget and a lot of energy, she became what she never thought she would be: an entrepreneur in a foreign country.
She fell in love with the Calle Real in downtown Liberia, a charming street with historic houses, and found one of them to rent for cheap and fix up. She turned the neglected house into a beautiful school, and, with a handful of students signed up, she started teaching English. The school grew quickly. By mid-2012, she had three teachers and about 150 students. That same year, Bethany focused on starting the Spanish program and creating the curriculum for it. She wrote 15 course books and trained a few Spanish teachers, and by June, Estelar received its first Spanish immersion students from the U.S. and Europe.
In 2014, Instituto Estelar moved to a more spacious building in downtown Liberia and now has nine classrooms, 450 students, ten English teachers, four Spanish teachers, one French teacher, and seven administrative staff members. During just about any time of the day, you can see students in the institute enjoying a cup of coffee with their classmates, playing games and having conversation in their class, or participating in one of the free cultural events that are offered each week. It is a place to meet new people and enjoy learning a new language in a relaxed atmosphere. As it continues to grow in the future, Instituto Estelar Bilingüe will remain committed to its values of high-quality language classes, community service, and a friendly, family-like school environment.