Our Beginnings

In 1975, Mrs. Rosario Casas de Iragorri, coming from a family of educators who for many generations have participated in the creation of several of the most prestigious schools in the country, followed her own dream, creating “Las Casitas Preschool”, located in a house in the residential neighborhood of Santa Teresita, Cali. She was an educator by conviction – by passion.

Six years later, motivated by the interest of the families that accompanied her in the preschool, she moved the school to the Menga Urbanization, and in a 3,000 square meter lot, started the Gimnasio La Colina.

As Rosario’s interest was far from personal profit (she did not want to “do business” with education), she created the Las Casitas Cultural Foundation with her family and founding parents, a non-profit entity and owner of the Gimnasio La Colina. Its corporate purpose is to promote the cultural and social development of the Colombian people, for which its main objective is to provide an educational service and this is fulfilled daily at the private, co-educational, calendar B school.

The Foundation is the owner of the 20,625 mts2 of land currently occupied by our school and the 5,972 mts2 of buildings on it. In 1981, the founder’s husband, César Iragorri Holguín, bought a piece of land with a house in Menga (where the preschool is currently located). The land, the house and its furnishings were donated by the Iragorri family to the Foundation.

In June 1985, when the school had reached the 4th grade, Rosario Casas died and her daughter Ximena Iragorri Casas, who had another life project, took the reins of the institution. Since then, thanks to the selfless support of many families and the desire of the Iragorri Casas family to continue the work started by Rosario, Gimnasio La Colina has continued its growth and today has approximately 480 students in preschool, elementary and high school, and has graduated 30 graduating classes.

Rosario’s husband, her children and their descendants, as well as her mother (Maruja Otoya de Casas, winner of the “Simón Bolívar” award for education) and siblings are the “managing partners” of the institution and by statute, the legal representation of the institution will always be in the hands of one of them or whoever they designate. The rest of the members of the Foundation are founding, active members, who may be current parents, school officials or people who identify with the philosophy and objectives of the institution.

These people are part of the General Assembly, the highest governing body. From this assembly, 14 members are part of the board of directors, who permanently and unconditionally guide and regulate the operation of the school.

The growth of the school could not be stopped. In 1981 the first elementary school began and in 1992 the first class of high school graduates (a group of 13 students) graduated.

La Colina Today

Both Gimnasio La Colina and Las Casitas Kindergarten belong to Las Casitas Cultural Foundation, whose main objective is to provide quality educational services. It has a Board of Directors made up of parents.

The school offers the children and youth of Cali the possibility to develop their cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual potential in a harmonious way. Our goal is to bring-up people, with the knowledge, sensitivity, commitment, respect for difference, creativity and leadership necessary to be generators and promoters of transcendental changes in their personal lives as well as in their communities.

The school’s pedagogical approach is Teaching for Understanding (TfC), a pedagogical orientation that originated at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. This approach seeks to develop students capable of thinking for themselves, acting responsibly and using their knowledge to solve problems in their daily lives.


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Bilingualism is developed at La Colina and interculturalism is cultivated. Physical education, sports, ecology, arts and computer technology are very important at La Colina. All subjects are designed so that students can enjoy an integral formation.

Human development and the promotion of values are fundamental pillars of the educational project that is embodied in the Healthy Coexistence project. The graduates of Gimnasio La Colina are characterized for being leaders who undertake important actions to transform their environment, graduating from the best universities in the country to develop the talents they identified throughout their school life.

If we read the statutes of the Gymnasium and review the objectives of the Foundation, we will know how Rosarito thought. Transcribing her thoughts is her best praise. Truly, we can never forget her.

Maria del Rosario Otoya de Casas.

Rosario casas iragorri

Words of Mrs. María del Rosario Otoya about the life and work of her daughter Rosario Casas de Iragorri, on the occasion of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the GIMNASIO LA COLINA, in October 1985.

“…..ROSARITO… was a teacher by VOCATION. On a beautiful day in October 1975, she founded the PRE-ESCOLAR LAS CASITAS, today GIMNASIO LA COLINA, donated by her to the city of Cali. Years later, perhaps a few months ago, I went into her office in search of her, and I found her at her desk interviewing a candidate for a teacher at Gimnasio La Colina.”


“If you do not have infinite capacity to love the child, you can have all the degrees in the world, all the degrees, all the diplomas, but you are no good to us as a TEACHER at the GIMNASIO LA COLINA. Here the most important thing is to LOVE. Loving is not overprotecting. Based on love, we form, educate, teach, correct, enlighten. If we truly love, we will know how to understand, we will know how to apologize, we will be able to protect, we will be able to teach. Here we work for and by the children, our objective is to form the men and women of tomorrow, to prepare them for the future, to create their own defenses, to rescue moral values, patriotic values, religious values, to establish human values. Let the children be authentic, cultivate the relationship of friendship between parents, students and teachers and take care of it with dedication, intelligence and interest to form THE COLINA FAMILY.”