Gimnasio La Colina has its origins in the preschool institution “Las Casitas”, founded by Rosario Iragorri Casas in 1975. At that time, the school had 12 children and was located in the western part of Cali. At the request of parents who had their children enrolled in Las Casitas, Rosarito (as she was affectionately called by people who knew her) decided to continue her educational project by starting an elementary school with the intention of offering our city another educational alternative. In 1981, the founder’s husband bought a piece of land in the Menga neighborhood. That property is where the Gimnasio’s preschool area is today.
Also in 1981, through Rosario’s initiative, the Las Casitas Cultural Foundation was created. This is a non-profit organization whose main objective is to obtain parental support, not to have education as business. The land, the house, and its utensils were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Iragorri to the Foundation.
Since then, thanks to the support of many families and to the wish of the Iragorri Casas Family to sustain the endeavor initiated by Rosario, Gimnasio la Colina has been able to continue its growth. Today it has an enrollment of 500 students, distributed between kindergartens, preschool, elementary and secondary school. Classes have an average of 22 students. La Colina had its first graduating class in 1992.
Today, Gimnasio La Colina School is a private, co-educational, and bilingual (Spanish – English) institution. It is a non-profit organization with strong parent participation. Gimnasio La Colina offers children of all ages in Cali the possibility of a harmonious development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual potential.
Our objective is to shape successful citizens with the necessary knowledge, sensitivity, commitment, respect towards diversity, creativity, and leadership in order to generate and promote meaningful improvements in our student’s personal life and social environment. Our guiding principle is “Warmth, Demand and Respect”. Each student is considered as a “unique and unrepeatable being”, who will gain a respect for individuality and an appreciation of democracy through the values instilled at La Colina.
The Institutional Pedagogical Approach is Teaching for Understanding (TfU). This is a pedagogical orientation that resulted from thorough research carried out by Project Zero in the School of Graduate Studies in Education at Harvard University. This approach demands that students develop and use analytical thinking skills, to be able to solve problems and give meaning to what they learn. It also requires that all of our teachers have a conceptual framework of TfU.
Both bilingual and intercultural education is developed at La Colina. Customs, traditions, literature, and other essential aspects of English speaking cultures are studied in order to enrich the student’s international vision and to contribute to the enhancement of respect, tolerance, and appreciation of the elements of their own culture and other cultural expressions. The educational emphasis of the Bilingual Program at La Colina focuses on the development of necessary skills (grammar, textual, semantic, and literary), to become an efficient reader, writer, and speaker.
The TEAM TEACHING methodology for kindergarten through high school, provide appropriate support for the Social Studies and Science areas. These methods, as well as all other policies and strategies, which result from an arduous and professional research under the guidance of the Bilingualism Specialization Program at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, allow students, starting in preschool, to become bilingual and to develop optimal communicative skills in English and in Spanish.
Physical Education, sports, ecology, dance, music, drama, visual arts, and computer systems are very important at La Colina. Rotation through the various disciplines in the early years allows students to identify their aptitudes and talents. Students are then able to develop these talents with more intensive instruction beginning in fifth grade, in the discipline of their choice (dance, music, plastic arts, visual arts, drama). Project based learning in pre-school and in the early elementary grades allows for cross curricular learning and fosters an integration of knowledge.
All content areas are thoughtfully considered and reviewed so that students may obtain a comprehensive education. All approaches are consistent with the concept of whole character development, and with the proposals which underlie the Colombian Education Act, the SABER ICFES state exam (Colombian Institute for the Development of Higher Education), and important international contributions. It is expected that students develop skills instead of isolated knowledge.
Language, literature, and research teaching focuses on the analysis and production of various text genres and on the assimilation of necessary research skills. In Natural Science, the fundamental purpose is the construction of scientific thought through the appropriation of scientific methodology. Mathematics teaching has experienced significant reforms, seeking to open the subject to all students and emphasizing problem solving and reasoning. The general objective of Humanities teaching is “the appropriation and legitimization of our culture and of universal values”. We expect students to be able to place events in space and time, to establish relationships among events, and, primarily, to develop analytical thinking.
Values education takes place in everyday life: through the teacher-student relationship, in homeroom, in school elections, in Human Education classes, in bi-monthly Life Management Education Workshops, and in Coexistence Field Trips for students which emphasize important life skills. Therefore, proposed goals can become concrete actions. Teachers are continually participating in training that allows them to update their teaching methods to best serve our learners. This training takes place both through La Colina and through specialized courses at the best local and international universities.
Gimnasio La Colina graduates distinguish themselves through leadership skills that allow them to initiate important actions to transform their environment. They have been accepted by the best Colombian universities to develop the talents which they identified during their school life. La Colina graduates have chosen professional careers in various fields of knowledge such as medicine, business administration, economics, graphic design, law, psychology, engineering, international relations, and communications. Their education at Gimnasio La Colina has opened the door for them to pursue a broad array of career choices.