Founder and Executive Director
Emi liked her Spanish class in middle school, and fell in love with Spanish when she went to Spanish camp in high school. Already a fan of Spanish camp, she worked for five summers at Spanish camp in Minnesota. Camp became her favorite place for personal growth and language learning. Emi is a certified Spanish teacher with experience teaching at the elementary level. She studied Spanish in her undergrad and completed a graduate degree in education while teaching Spanish in Chattanooga, TN.
Her favorite part of camp is getting to hire amazing staff and see them share their passion with our campers. Oh, and she also really likes singing camp songs, especially “¡El Árbol!”
Emily Valdés is a certified teacher of Spanish. She earned a B.A. in Spanish at Elon University, and a Master of Education at UT Chattanooga.
Founder and Creative Director
Teo has been fascinated with languages ever since he was a kid. While growing up, he heard Spanish around his Cuban-American family, but didn’t really learn the languages until he studied Spanish in college. Later, as a Spanish teacher, he taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels. He has also worked in summer youth programs for the past ten years.
His favorite part of camp is the way that beginning Spanish learners can experience success communicating in the language there. “There’s nothing like the look on a camper’s face when they realize they were able to express themselves for the first time in a new language!”
Teo Valdés is a certified teacher of Spanish, English, and ESOL. He earned a B.A. in Spanish and Foreign Language Education at Kennesaw State University, and an M.A. in Spanish at UNC Greensboro.
Director of Experiential Learning
Marisol grew up going to Spanish camp almost every summer, and she’s super excited to offer that kind of experiential learning to El Pueblo campers. Her studies as an undergrad included an emphasis on education and social justice, and over the past couple of years she has worked for an educational non-profit in Guatemala. She has worked remotely for Language South since its creation, and now serves us full time as our Director of Experiential Learning.
Her favorite part of camp is seeing connections and relationships form around her at El Pueblo. She really loves “Casa Charla,” when the campers have a chance to unwind and reflect on their day with their cabin-mates before bed.
Paige “Marisol” Moffett is an experienced teacher of English as a second language. She earned a B.S. in Literacy, Learning, and Leadership at the University of Arizona.
Interview With Our Directors
In this video, our directors talk about summer camp, language learning, and themselves!
The Language South Origin Story:
Emi and Teo met while working together at Spanish camp in Minnesota. They fell in love and eventually got married and moved to Chattanooga, TN to be closer to family. After a couple of years in their new town, Emi and Teo realized that they never felt so fulfilled in their work as they had during the five summers they spent working at Spanish camp. Language camp had a special place in their hearts and they dreamed of opening their own camp. They want to bring that kind of learning opportunity to kids and teens in the South.
In 2017, they shared their dream with Marisol (who had been a camper at that same camp in Minnesota). They worked with Marisol to launch Language South and El Pueblo Spanish Camp. Their dream came true in the summer of 2018. Along with their founding team of counselors, they welcomed the first group of campers to El Pueblo. They played, sang, danced, shouted, and had a blast sharing Spanish language and culture. Now they look forward to seeing all the new and returning campers, counselors, and other supporters that join their camp community each summer!
Organizations That Support Us
Chattanooga School of Language
The Chattanooga school of Language has been supportive of Language South from the very beginning. Emily and Teo have taught classes for them in the past our our organizations have collaborated on a number of events. Whether we need a projector, some kind of advice, or encouragement, CSL is always there for us. If you live in the Chattanooga area, and you are looking for language classes we highly recommend the Chattanooga School of Language. You can find out more about their classes on their website.
JA Henry Community YMCA
We really appreciate the support we receive from the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga and from the JA Henry Community YMCA. They share their expertise, connections, and other resources with us, while also providing other kinds of help whenever they can. Thanks in part to funding from the YMCA, many El Pueblo has been able to offer tuition assistance to many campers each summer.