WLCA Staff

Marita Paly
Senior Coordinator for Tacoma/ Gig Harbor

Marita Paly studied Education and specialized in Tourism Education. She received a scholarship for excellence in Spanish Literature and Culture at the University of Salamanca in Spain. She began working at A.C.E. in 1994 as a Spanish teacher and became an Area Coordinator in 1999.

Marita has been active in many non-profit organizations. She has volunteered at several orphanages and study centers in Peru, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua where she served the communities by giving them educational tools that helped them to become independent citizens. She taught adults to read and write in Spanish and helped teenagers graduate from high school through the Centro Latino.

Mrs. Paly was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She is third generation Japanese. Her native language is Spanish.

Elke S. Armajo
Coordinator for Olympia

Elke S. Armajo has been the Olympia Area Coordinator for the A.C.E. World Language Program since August 2009. Prior to this, she served as a German language class teacher for A.C.E. in the Mountain View Elementary school.

Elke was born in the southern state of Bavaria, Germany, home of the fairy-tale Neuschwanstein Castle and Bavarian Alps. Her husband, Darwin, is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of southeastern Idaho. They have six children, four currently attending North Thurston Public Schools.

Her love of children has always directed her path in life. While stationed with her husband and family overseas, she volunteered in both American and local community German schools promoting cultural awareness, and helping with languages, presentations, and whatever capacity was needed. Elke and her family traveled extensively throughout Europe and tried to to instill in their children a sense of awareness and appreciationfor cultural and social diversity in other countries.

Although she enjoyed her 13 years as a certified Dental Assistant, after the birth of her children she followed her passion for child development and became a certified Family Child Care Provider, serving military service-families and their communities.

After relocating to Washington in 2003 with her family, she continued her volunteer services in her children's classrooms and other capacities throughout the North Thurston Public School District. Notably, Elke has served as an Executive Member of the North Thurston Public Schools Native Student Program (Title VII) Parent Advisor Committee for the past 3 years.

MaryKay Speight
Coordinator for Greater Seattle/ Eastside

MaryKay has been teaching Spanish with A.C.E.'s World Language Programs since 2001. She graduated from Washington State University and is a certified elementary teacher with a major endorsement in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and minor endorsements in Spanish, English as a Second Language, and Anthropology. She has also traveled, lived, and studied in Mexico and taught in a Bilingual Classroom. MaryKay has taught and tutored Spanish for students pre-kindergarten through adults in both public and private schools.

MaryKay has taken a great liking to the ancient Mexican cultures and all of its ruins. She has traveled to many sites in Mexico to climb pyramids, work ontravel study classwork, and absorb as much of these ancient cultures as she can. She enjoys sharing findings from these experiences with her classes.

When not teaching Spanish, she works at her home-based business of dog training and doggie daycare. MaryKay has taught basic dog obedience classes, has several dogs of her own and helps foster dogs in need. She has a special place in her heart for deaf dogs. She is also finishing up her studies in small animal massage therapy.

Ilene Wider
Curriculum Specialist/ Assistant Area Coordinator for Tacoma/Gig Harbor

Ilene Wider was born and raised on Long Island, New York. She graduated the University of New York at Brockport with a major in Science and The University of Texas San Antonio with a teaching certification. Ilene has taught at the elementary and middle school levels for 8 years as well as in a bilingual classroom. She studied Spanish in college and has traveled extensively visiting her extended Spanish family living in Colombia, Panama, and Spain.

Ilene has written curriculum for other non-profits including Harbor WildWatch, which provides outreach programs to public and private schools in the South Puget Sound area. When not working with A.C.E WLP she also continues to teach Spanish to preschool through fifth grade at a private school in Gig Harbor, WA.

The Run About the World A.C.E. WLCA Fun Run

The Run About the World
is our annual 5K fun run/walk event with cultural activities!