Instituto Estelar Bilingüe 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 purchased and moved to a more spacious building in downtown Liberia, and in 2017 the company added a second floor to accommodate the growing number of students. In total, the facilities have 14 classrooms, two large multi-purpose areas, 11 bathrooms, a reception, a kitchen, and a garden area. There have been as many as 550 English students enrolled, and a group of Spanish immersion students each week.
In March 2020, with the rise of the global pandemic, we moved all of our classes online. We went from 450 English students to just 200 in a few months due to people losing jobs or not having access to computers or Internet for the online classes. However, we consistently had 200 English students enrolled in classes until August 2021 when we started having classes at the institute again (in addition to keeping most of the classes online), and student numbers started going up again. We are very grateful for this!
As the school 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.