Sofia Aymerich and Cynthia Alvarez founded Wise Hearts, a mindful nature program, because they truly believe that by offering Wise Hearts, they are providing young children with essential skills that can be used to generate well-being throughout their lives. Their intent is to plant a seed for the next generation where peace, respect for the environment and others becomes the natural way of being.

 

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Co-Founder and Director of Education

Sofia Aymerich was born in Mexico City and lived there until she was 24 years old. She has always been passionate about education.  In Mexico, Sofia studied Education Sciences and Family Counseling because she strongly believes that the only way to make a positive change  in the world is through education. When she moved to Miami, she worked as a Family Counselor at the Department of Children and Families and as a Trainer/Instructional Designer at the University of Miami. She has 14 years of teaching/ instructional designer experience. When she became a mom she felt a strong need to stay home with her children and that decision changed her life. Sofia searched for programs in Miami for her own children and could not find a comprehensive program in Spanish where children could play, socialize with other kids, develop their skills, cope with their emotions and enjoy nature. Therefore, Sofia with her friend Cynthia founded Wise Hearts, initially for their own children. After seeing the results, she dedicated her career to the expansion of the program to benefit more children and families.

 

1930097_23069347851_7786_nCo-Founder and Director of Social and Emotional Development

Cynthia Alvarez is a native of Argentina who growing up lived in Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Texas and finally settled in Miami in her early twenties.   This has led her to experience education and what is valued in different societies. At age 17, she discovered her fascination with the human mind and dedicated the rest of her life to studying it. She graduated with a Master Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University and worked treating children with mental health issues in the community, Miami Dade Public School System and through her private practice. Once she became a mother, her dream of being able to stay home with her children became true. As her children grew into toddlerhood she could not find an educational program that she felt met her children’s most important developmental needs. This is when together with her trusted and admired friend, Sofia, they decided to open their own.

Wise Hearts reflects her most valued beliefs of instilling in young children social and emotional intelligence (SEL), the building block for a successful life. Not only it is a program that offers SEL and mindfulness, creative and artistic developmentally appropriate activities for working on other important skills, but it is also emerged in nature so the children can learn to take care, respect, and connect with their environment. Another significant advantage is that it is a program where children are allowed to attend with their primary caregiver to continue to fortify the attachment with their child. Cynthia threads into the curriculum and school culture, activities, classes, special projects and parent support to promote social and emotional development for children.

 

OUR LOVING AND ENTHUSIASTIC TEACHERS

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ANA CAROLINA GAMERO

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Ana was born in Venezuela and has 20 years of experience in preschool education. She comes from a family where teaching prevails. Her maternal grandmother was an elementary school teacher and her paternal grandmother also graduated in the field of education. She was one of the first Venezuelan to obtain the specialty of kindergarten teacher in the country. Her paternal grandfather was a renowned biologist / zoologist in Venezuela, conducted a television show called “El Reino Animal” where he talked about different species of animals and urged the population to take care and preserve the fauna; his father and uncle also had a puppet show section in the same television channel. Surrounded by these examples from a very young age, she felt the need to follow into the footsteps of her loved ones and she began  by creating fun activities, games and choreographies that well entertained her brothers.

Most of her life she lived in a house in the mountains on the outskirts of Caracas surrounded by vegetation and animals (some totally unknown by the people of the city). She spent most of her vacations at the farm of her grandfather where she was not only in contact with farm animals but also performed typical farm activities like burrowing cheese. When she did not go to the farm, she went to their beach house on the Venezuelan coast. She was always in touch with nature, which allowed her to learn a lot from it.

She earned her undergraduate BA in Early Childhood Education, and worked in this area since she began her university studies. During her years working in Venezuela she was fortunate to be selected to apply within their classroom, for a pilot program for the development of emotional intelligence in preschoolers, led by Kiddy Tools.

Singing, dancing, and puppet shows are her favorite tools to aid in the learning process of her students.

When she moved to Miami, she was the owner of a Day Care for 5 years and was in charge of the administrative side, but she noticed that office work did not make her feel the same as when she worked with children.

When she found Wise Hearts, she felt that feeling again that she missed and was able to reconnect with her inner child, which was filled with much energy. Ana uses this energy every day with the children at the park.

 

SARAH ROTTERMAN

Sarah Rotterman FotoSarah Rotterman strongly believes that every human being finds its essential identity and sense of life through strengthening bonds with oneself, with the natural world and the community.

Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia and graduated from Psychology in Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in the same city, she has always been motivated to work in the field of education. She trusts that happy, compassionate and mindful people will change the world.

Her own practice and the one she shares is based on three main fields: Mindfulness, Psychology and Yoga. She remains constantly curious through constant trainings to enhance her work with kids, youth and families. Sarah has over 7 years of experience in schools, alternative education programs and one-on-one sessions, Sarah is delighted to bring her love and passion to communities far and wide.

The teachers with whom she has trained and have inspired her life are Sri Andrei RamThích Nhất HạnhJon Kabat-Zinn,Matthew Brensilver and the Mindful Schools community; it is here where she has received her training in mindfulness and where she still participates as an active member.

“Through a daily mindful practice that aims to nurture the creative self, to stoke the emotional intuition, spiritual awakening and conscious growth we awaken the true essence and brilliance that we all carry inside.”

Click here to learn more about Sarah’s projects.

 

MARIA CLEMENCIA VASQUEZ CEBALLOS

IMG_1577Maria was born in Manizales, Colombia from a family with deep roots in education and music dedicating themselves to educating children.

From there arose her passion for music. Having been surrounded by amazing musicians and educators, she began to practice since she was a child. As a natural result, years later she continued the family legacy of music education.

She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Music specializing in pedagogy from the University of Caldas in Manizales, Colombia and a Master degree in Education from the University Catolica in Manizales, Colombia.

She was part of many musical groups as a singer and instrumentalist and lived in London in the early nineties being part of Montuno’s band as a lead singer traveling to various locations throughout Europe performing in private events and concerts.

She worked as an academic adviser for newly inducted teachers from the school of music and education at the University of Caldas in Manizales, Colombia, and has worked as thesis evaluator for postgraduate’s students in the school of education at the University of Caldas in Manizales, Colombia. She has over 20 years of experience working with students of all ages.

She has lived in US for the past five years.

 

 OUR KIND-HEARTED AND INNOVATIVE CREW

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MICHELLE STONE

IMG_6419AcroContact Teacher – Energy & Movement Healer 

“A healing journey into your body”

Following a life long journey of searching for her own magic, Michelle Stone has arrived at a place where movement meets the mind and body meets consciousness.  Devoting much of her life to studying the power of the body and the human spirit, Michelle offers a healing practice that encompasses an array of modalities for you to feel safe and connected in your life. 

Michelle has spent the last 17 years studying contemporary dance, an organic form of expression through movement and exploration.  These studies have taken her from Massachusetts to Paris and Vienna to Marseille. Movement has been her medicine.  She combines the healing work with her passion for movement and brings grounding through the body to create a harmonious and confident life. 

A graduate of Barbara Brennan School of Healing Science, Michelle joined their 4 year degree program specializing in holistic healthcare dedicated to the evolution of the human spirit. It is a hands-on healing method that works with the individual’s energy consciousness to create physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.  Michelle is also a long time student of Kundalini and incorporates breath work, movement exercises, and mantras into her practice.

The adventure of motherhood has led Michelle to expand her practice and explore a path of play and trust.  She is committed to teaching parents to trust themselves, their bodies and their child in order to build confidence and strengthen their bond.  Through her class, parents practice the art of observing, play and connection. 

Michelle currently has a private practice, teaching at schools and workshops. Each session is unique and deepens your awareness and presence in your life and body.  Together, we discover and work through belief blocks that are holding us back. The guided practice will release and deepen our inner connection, allowing you to feel your physical power and strength.

Michelle was born in Lima, Peru and lives in Miami with her family. The journey of Mammahood with her 2 boys and husband has inspired her world.

CYNTHIA PASSAVANTI

IMG_6823NATURE DESIGNER & SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Cynthia is a natural creative mind with a sharp eye for design, aesthetics, and details.  Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she studied fashion design and graduated as an Interior Designer.  She began cultivating her great passion for design and began manufacturing jewelry for over 5 years.

In 2008, together with her husband, she moved to Miami.  In 2012, her life changed again with the arrival of her son. This is when she realized she wanted to stay home raising and educating her son. Shortly after she met Sofia Aymerich and Cynthia Alvarez and became part of the Wise Hearts community the founding year. As a parent, she felt she found the perfect space where she was able to build community and educate her son in a program that matched her educational philosophy.  As a parent in the program she participated in Conscious Discipline courses, volunteered for many events, contributed with design ideas and has supported the program from inception.  Having experienced and actively participated in many aspects of Wise Hearts makes Cynthia and invaluable addition to our team.