Boise Elementary Spanish
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Board of Directors

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Boise Elementary Spanish is a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The voluntary board was formed in 1996 to oversee the operations of BES and is involved in developing policy, setting direction, overseeing curriculum development and making decisions concerning financial matters. The Board is comprised of the Executive Board and the Parent Ambassador Council.

Carol Meli, Board President

Carol joined the BES organization last year and is a passionate supporter of bilingual education for school age children and adults! After retiring from her job as a Sales Operations Manager at HP here in Boise, she has more time to work with BES to stay connected to the language and culture she has come to love during her years working with Spanish speakers around the world.

Carol says her study of Spanish was completely “elementary” until she began working with all the talented Spanish speakers at HP.  The philosophy and focus of BES recognizes the importance of starting EARLY (young minds have young synapses) resonated with her enough to contact BES and ask to join the talented team of people bringing Spanish to Boise classrooms.

Why Learn Another Language? (according to Carol)

It opens up a WORLD of opportunity

  • Make travel easier and enjoy the broad perspective of other cultures
  • Access literature and language from a completely different angle
  • Understand market research, brand management, finance and operations internationally

Lael Uberuaga-Rodgers, Webmaster

Lael grew up in Boise, Idaho, where her interest in her Basque heritage and the established Basque community sparked her interest in the Spanish language. She studied Music, Spanish and Anthropology at the College of Idaho and has made several visits to Spain on tour with her dance group, Oinkari Basque Dancers. She is also learning Euskara, the first language of the Basque people (Spanish is the second.) She values cultural diversity, and knows that introducing children to Spanish as early as possible will not only help them develop cultural understanding, but arm them with a valuable skill that only becomes increasingly important in today's world.


Jen Banes, Treasurer

jen-banesUpon entering college, she continued with her language and cultural studies, and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Multi-Ethnic Studies from Boise State University. As part of her university programming, Jen has had the opportunity to live abroad twice. In 2012, she spent a semester abroad in Alicante, Spain where she attended the public university and studied Spanish exclusively. In 2016 she had the opportunity to volunteer for six weeks in Lima, Peru where she lived with a Peruvian host family and volunteered at Los Martincitos, a care center for the local elderly population in the impoverished district of Villa El Salvador. Both of these experiences not only gave Jen an opportunity to improve her Spanish, but also a chance to connect with people from different parts of the world in their own language, an invaluable experience in her opinion.Jen Banes is a second generation Idahoan, with a vast love for the Boise community, and deep passion for multiculturalism, bilingual education and world traveling! She has always been fascinated with multilingualism and language acquisition and this is what inspired her to begin studying Spanish in high school. Through this initial second language exposure, Jen also began to learn about other cultures throughout the world, an element that she feels is essential to inspiring students to pursue second language acquisition. Through this type of combined instruction, she quickly fell in love with the Spanish language and the many Spanish-speaking cultures around the world. 


Ray Warner, Board Member

Ray Warner is a former student of BES, and can attest to the benefits of a head start in language learning from a young age. This interest in the Spanish language continued through high school and into his continued education. As a junior in college, he studied abroad in Mallorca, Spain where he learned the hard way how different Latin American and Castilian Spanish can be. He graduated from Westminster College with a degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies. Upon graduating, he and his wife went on to teach English as a Second Language in Colombia, Spain and Russia before coming back to Boise.

Being someone who is partaking in the life long saga of language learning gives Ray a greater understanding of what kids in the program are going through.  He is also passionate about community involvement and connecting people to foster relationships and furthering mutual goals. Being part of BES is a gateway to bring to light the importance of language learning in the community and to give back to an organization which served him well in his younger years as a budding language learner.


The BES board is actively seeking new members, specifically people with experience/interest in grant writing, accounting, fundraising and language acquisition. If you are interested in participating in the administration and development of Boise Elementary Spanish, please contact Jen Banes, Executive Director at or 208-867-5553.