We had the good fortune of connecting with Shineth Cunanan- Gonzales, M.A. and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shineth, what do you attribute your success to?
A zillion factors! I even often say to my students that “your success is my success.”
With that, there are many things I’m grateful for in my humble existence. My success as a school founder and educator is built on love, the foundation and support of my family, friends, students, colleagues, the community, and, above all else, God.
Besides that, I believe my experience as an educator played a big role in the realization of the Colorado Global School, Colorado Language Program, as well as Colorado International Online School that I spearheaded. I was a teacher in Thailand for 14 years, and when I got to the United States, I studied and completed my master’s degree at the University of Northern Colorado in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in 2017. And now, in the Juris Doctorate program. So the processes of learning and teaching are both familiar and new to me, which helps me provide the best education for my students.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Colorado Global School Inc.(CGSI) is a non-profit school which opened in 2019. Our goal is to offer academic excellence with a student-centered approach, and use evidence-based strategies from dedicated and committed staff. To note, “the mission of Colorado Language Program is dedicated to provide the highest quality of academia by promoting a positive educational atmosphere where students learn, grow, and succeed in the English Language.” Our vision is to prepare a diverse student-body for college, career and global readiness. With this, we offer ESL (English as a Second Language) Class, U.S. citizenship class, GED, TOEFL, Basic Computer Literacy and 6th-12th Online School, and other services in education, notary public services, and even job assistance.
What makes CGSI different from other educational institutions is that we serve a culturally diverse community and our staff members are from different backgrounds that can understand the students’ needs well. Personally, I take pride in providing the best education fit for our students. Education is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some students have different needs that need to be addressed. With this in mind, I make sure each of my students perform accordingly, and that the set-up they’re in is what’s best for them.
Another thing to note about CGSI is we are expanding our school sites from one city in Colorado to five towns, opening in Los Angeles, San Diego, the Philippines, Thailand, and worldwide!
This whole experience as School Founder and President of the Colorado Global School has been overwhelming, yet humbling. I’m always reminded how blessed I am to be able to help students. I believe this was God’s plan all along. Through me, I am able to share His teachings of kindness and love to everyone around me.
Everyone must know that it is not easy! There are many risks and challenges. I almost gave up, and said, “I will sell it.”. One high school friend (Tina Velilla) said, “It’s your sweat and blood that you invested.” And of course, I cannot just leave my students. They followed me wherever I went. With this pandemic, we rented local church classrooms, and coffee shop conference rooms, hence I’m like a mobile school teacher.
Until I found a 2,400 square foot place to lease. And of course, I am just grateful that the students love and trust me.
Starting a business is not just about money (which I do not have much). My investment is love, time, trust, faith, and support. One of the board members—Wayne Buller—texted me last week and said that our school is blessed with my care for students, and that is why God blesses me.
I want the world to know that believing is possible. Discouragement and negative stories are blessings to make you better. Miracles are real. Dreams come true. God gives the best, better than the universe’s plans.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles California is such a lovely place! I’d definitely invite everyone to visit here.
There are so many things to check out, but I think one of the best experiences to have while in California would be Disneyland. My best friend, or anyone else interested, should allot a whole day to fully immerse themselves and maximize the notable attractions such as Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room!
I believe both the young and young-at-heart will enjoy this magical place. As they say, Disneyland is “the happiest place on Earth!”
Another must-have experience is shopping in Rodeo Drive! I personally recommend this since most of my best friends like the fanciest places. For dining, we like healthy Asian food, but we still get excited with American cuisine served in Texas Roadhouse and Rick’s Drive In & Out!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
More than the support of everyone in my life, I believe God, my grandparents, my son Jacob Ray, my husband, my mama, former teachers, best friends all deserve a little bit more recognition.
I consider myself to be a religious woman, and in that retrospect, I try my very best to be God’s instrument in everything that I do. I know He shows his guidance and plans for me through the people in my life. His love for me fuels my love for providing the best quality education at the Colorado Global School.
For Jacob Ray, he is my world. I’m a hands-on mother. All the things they say about how rewarding motherhood is, that’s all true. He’s a blessing for me, as well as my wonderful husband, and our family. I want to be the best version of myself, both as a parent and as an educator, so my son can look up to me.
My mama worked hard to provide me with the best education. She always says, “your degree certificates can be stolen but not your education.” And now, I would tell my students, “Education is an investment that cannot be stolen.” I always say I’m not a businessman, I am an educator. That is the reason I do not have much money in the bank, but I have an abundance of love from my students and the community.
For my ever-supportive husband, I call him “ducky.” From the very start of our marriage, he would say that I can be a president of a school. And I just ignored that thought. My childhood dream was to become a nun and a teacher. I grew up in a Dominican school in the Philippines from kindergarten up to the 5th grade and I thought all nuns were teachers and vice versa. Before, I wanted to have my own kindergarten school. But now, our schools are bigger than I dreamt of.
Coming from a Filipino family, we give utmost importance to our grandparents, and I’m lucky my grandparents filled my world with love. They raised me with good values and instilled in me strong faith that God will provide all the best in the world. I am still like a little child that always believes in miracles. Every morning, I dance, sing, pray, and think to myself, “I am so excited for today’s surprises!”
I remember during the first day of classes at Colorado Language Program, one of the teachers had a family emergency and she called me at 6:00 a.m. Around 7:00 a.m., I was driving and singing, “Lord give me a great substitute teacher. I am so excited for this surprise.” Around 8:00 a.m., a retired teacher showed up at the school and said, “I saw the newspaper article about you and the school. I wanted to help you.” Her name is Roberta. Our students have loved her since.
Allie Reilly of Spur Of Moments Photography Anette D. Flores Steph N. of DRC Creative Imaging