Our Las Terrenas Team

 
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Sofia Dal Canton
Administrative Assistant

My name is Sofia and I am Italian by birth. I have arrived in this beautiful country in 2015. Since then I have been in charge of the weekly organization of the workers of the real estate office where I have worked and that is how I have continued in the property manager world to this day. I have developed my skills directly in this territory / area so I know the providers and their best services well. I offer my strength to the administration of Isla Academy with great enthusiasm.

 
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Carmen Yordan
Primary
Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, University of Georgia, USA

Hola! My name is Carmen Yordan, and I am thrilled to be teaching at Isla Academy. I was born and raised on this beautiful island of The Dominican Republic, in the capital of Santo Domingo. My sister, who is also my first inspiration, invited me to visit her in Terrenas, and I fell in love with the town. Once I made the decision to relocate, I have been given the opportunity to become a part of this educational institution. I welcome all the wonderful things that Isla Academy has to offer students and faculty alike. It has been a dream come true to work at Isla Academy and I cannot be more excited to be part of this dedicated team of educators doing what I love to do-- Teach!

I never dreamed of becoming a teacher until I volunteered in my sister’s classroom. After this experience I was hooked and later became a teacher’s aide for a multiage classroom of 2- and 3-year-old children in a Montessori School setting. Those experiences were so fulfilling that when I moved to the United States, I pursued my degree in Early Childhood education. I completed my bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia (UGA), in the area of Child and Family Development- Early Childhood Education. 

A great part of my experience in education includes teacher’s assistant, Kindergarten through 2nd grade, Parent Liaison, ESOL teacher for students from K to 3, where I had groups with as many as six different nationalities and learned about their cultures.  I have been a Bilingual Spanish and Sheltered English teacher for primary grades as well as a tutor and District Program Manager for a government sponsored program that gave free tutoring to low-income families. For 18 years, I continued to find my passion in education in Orange County Public Schools, located in Orlando Florida.

As a young student and through the years, I have been motivated by my loving family and inspired by the students who have crossed my path as well as the stories of their families.  Education is ever changing, challenging but one thing remains true-- it is also where I find it to be rewarding in many ways. I have had an array of positions in education in the past three decades, yet always find my way to my early childhood education roots.

My hope at Isla Academy is to find inspiration amongst the students and faculty as well as build relationships and a sense of community with the families who are entrusting me with the education, care and nurturing of their little scholars.

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.”

 -Alexandra K. Trenfor

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Ninon Renard
Primary Assistant

Hi ! My name is Ninon Renard.

 

I am of French origin and grew up in Provence in a town in the south of France called Salon-de-provence, where I obtained my baccalaureate in economics and social studies with a mathematics speciality. I have learned so much, including in the sports field, focusing on life saving skills for swimming. After concluding my studies, my desire to travel, live new experiences and discover new cultures brought me to the island of Hispaniola at the age of nineteen. I felt a strong desire to see the world through other perspectives, learning things that I could have not learned back home, without forgetting my purpose which is to work in the education field. 

ISLA Academy is a wonderful project, with its unique and broad teaching methods,  and their vision in protecting our beautiful planet. I started at ISLA in March 2021 as an assistant for the primary class, and will continue this year 2021-2022 in that same position. I love working with children and learning from them. It’s a great pleasure for me to be part of the ISLA ACADEMY TEAM again and to be a part of teaching your children!

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Laura Bencosme
Elementary
Campus Coordinator - Las Terrenas
Ecology & Environmental Management, la Pontificia Universidad Catholics made y Maestra, Dominican Republic

I began working with children in June  2012, when I had just turned 15. I worked as a teacher assistant in a summer camp in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I remember feeling very nervous and scared, as it was my first formal job ever. After the first day, those feelings of nervousness started transforming into feelings of passion and curiosity for what I was doing. I remember at the end of that first experience, being awarded outstanding employee of the summer camp, and that’s when I started believing in what I was doing and seeking to learn more from it. 

 

After that first experience, I worked for different summer camps around the country, in Jarabacoa, San Cristobal and Santo Domingo. In Jarabacoa, I worked in a four-week long summer camp called Baiguate, in 2014 and 2015. In this particular work experience, we had to stay for a month in Jarabacoa, being 24/7 with our group of kids and mentoring them every single day. Living for a month with these children was yet another experience that touched my heart and motivated me to keep working in the presence of children. Baiguate’s motto is “Quiero, puedo y soy capaz” , which translates into “ I want, I can, and I am capable of doing so”. This motto forever inspires me, and reminds me that everyone, including children, can pursue their dreams. 

 

As I graduated from highschool, I had no clue what I wanted to study. Therefore, I decided to go for a cultural exchange program, in which I went to live abroad for a year in Belgium with a host family. During that year, I became fluent in French and worked as an assistant in a center for mentally handicapped adults , which works towards providing a space where they can perform activities such as cooking, art, music and other fun things. I also lived in a permaculture based community during this time, which led me to decide where I was going regarding my university studies. 

 

I came back to Santo Domingo in 2016 and decided to pursue a career in Ecology and Environmental Management in la Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra of Santo Domingo. I got a full scholarship for my four years of studies, and concluded my studies in November 2020. During my college career, I interned at the Botanical Garden of Santo Domingo, volunteered for an organization called Ser Eco, created my own jewelry business called Memoria del Agua , worked for Genius Academy summer camp as an environmental science teacher, created my own gardening workshops at home and pursued my Permaculture Design Certification.  

 

I started as a volunteer in the ISLA family, providing a gardening workshop for the elementary class and a presentation on my bachelor thesis and ecology to the highschool students. In January 2021, I officially became part of the ISLA family , working with the Casita (Pre-k) group in Cabarete. I joined ISLA Las Terrenas team in February 2021, as an elementary teacher for Kinder-2nd grade. I am happy to be part of this family, and would like to keep integrating ecology with education, teaching kids to be guardians of the Earth and enjoy the process of learning. 

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Dioradna Tavarez
Art Director & Teacher
 

Art director, decorator and art teacher

My name is Dioradna Tavárez, born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Since my early years, I was used to living in an artistic environment.

I decided to study art direction for the film industry and have worked in the art industry for twenty years. I have worked in the art department of several international movies such as “The Good Shepherd” directed by Robert de Niro, “The Lost City” by Andy Garcia, “Vers le Sud” de Laurent Cantet. As an art director I have worked for many different projects such as documentaries, art installations, theatre plays, music videos, publicity campaigns and other projects. 

In 2009, my son Mauricio was born and being a mother awoke something in me, and I started exploring artistic education for children. I have been a volunteer teacher in different ONG’S for children in need, such as Sociedad Lucas and Nubes de Esperanza where I did some art workshops using recycled materials, showing them how to care for the environment in a fun and creative way. Following that same line of community service, I started my own art summer camp for children, using creativity as a tool. 

My commitment with the ISLA family is to completely dedicate my time for our students, assisting them in developing their art skills, and at the same time motivating them to express their emotions and develop their creativity. I have been working with ISLA Academy las Terrenas for two years, as an art teacher and elementary assistant .

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Ogrys Gilbert
STEM, Secondary
Mathematics & Natural Sciences 
Instituto Superior de Docente Salome Urena
 

What's up? My name is Ogrys Gilbert. I grew up in the Dominican Republic moving back and forth between Santiago and Las Terrenas, Samaná. I showed interest in arts, music, and technology since the early stages of my life.

 

I entered Instituto Superior de Formación Docente Salomé Ureña on scholarship and began my studies in Mathematics and Natual Sciences education for middle school. At the same time, I was working as a music producer and was the guitarist for a local band. During my time at ISFODOSU, I had the opportunity to learn from Japanese educators that teaching/learning maths can be a challenging, fun, and fascinating experience. Right now, I'm building a music curriculum that mixes musical theory with math concepts. 

 

In my free time, I work as a music producer and artist. I do enjoy surfing, skateboarding, motorsports, listening to music being rock, jazz, and hip-hop my favorite genres, I also volunteer on teenage groups and summer camps. 

 

I'm very interested in apologetics and theology, I frequently have debates with my father who's a pastor about these topics. 

 

One of my challenges is to learn as many languages as possible. 

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Daniela Dos Santos
Humanities, Secondary
Clinical Psychology and Neurocognition, UNIBE
 

Hi! My name is Daniela Dos Santos, and I’m very excited to be joining the ISLA team this year as a Humanities teacher. I was born and raised in Santo Domingo and had the privilege of spending lots of my childhood in Portillo, Las Terrenas surrounded by nature, water sports and lots of interesting people. As a teenager, I volunteered at DREAM project in Cabarete, which fueled my love and passion for teaching and social work. For three years I had the privilege of living in northern Italy, where I finished my high school studies and learned how to speak a the language. 

 

I’ve been back in the D.R. since 2016, when I started studying (and recently graduated) Clinical Psychologist with a concentration in Neurocognition and Psychophysiology at UNIBE. I have worked at different jobs, from being a psychologist at a foster home to being an assistant teacher and tutor, but had never had the chance of being a teacher of a subject I feel so passionately about. I hope we can all learn a lot from each other this year and grow immensely as human beings.

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Grace Yordan de Bonnelly
Spanish
English as a Second Language, UNICARIBE

Saludos cariñosos a esta prestigiosa familia ISLA! My name is Grace Yordan de Bonnelly, and I’m very excited to be joining the ISLA team this year as a Spanish and ESL teacher. 

 

I was born and raised in Santo Domingo and had the privilege of spending lots of my childhood close to relatives who inspired me to teach. My father was patient and loving and he inspired me to learn English. I was always very curious about language. My mother was a bright woman who loved music and reading. I was surrounded by critical thinkers, great students. They all became outstanding professionals, like my sister Carmen. 

 

I had the privilege of attending a modern School based on individual learning and small projects CONSA. where I found great friends for life.  Since I was very young I loved caring for smaller children or little animals. In 3erd grade I had the BEST teacher in the world, MRS Eliana, a great woman from Chile.  She understood my passion for caring for others and at 9 I became part of a group of volunteers helping Down Syndrome children and adults in the afternoons. This was a turning point. At 9 I knew I wanted to teach and care for others the rest of my life. 

 

As a teenager, I volunteered at the ALFABETIZACION DE ADULTOS project in La Cienaga, which fueled my love and passion for teaching and social work. For one year I had the privilege of living in Georgia, USA, where I finished my high school studies and learned more English. Back from the States I went right into ICDA as a preschool aide. In 1989, I started at the University Católica de Santo Domingo and had my own afternoon program. Then I became an ESL teacher in ICDA and then went to UNICARIBE, to continue early childhood education. 

 

Every year I went back to the states for summer camps. I was always looking for answers about learning. The school to me is a place to grow, so I needed more. I started attending meetings, conferences, associations and movements related to Plan Decenal. On the way I encountered WHOLE LANGUAGE and decided to find a school where children loved to learn. By that time, I was already married and had my first son. I went to an international school where I was very happy. I had to follow motherhood and went to a beautiful project called Retoños, where my other 2 kids were happy and became critical thinkers and I also met very special people.  After many years went to Escuela Nueva. 

 

My family and I decided to move to Las Terrenas with our family business. I went into Liceo Frances de Las Terrenas and finally, I am thrilled to join this school where kids have the opportunity for such a hands-on, child-centered education. I am a believer that children learn by ‘doing’ therefore I understand that using inquiry to allow children to ask and answer questions about the world around them is a fantastic way to help them to love to learn.

 

I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to teach in a range of ages, from three months old, to preschool students to Seventh Graders, colleagues and parents.   I have taught ESL, SSL, Arts, and most important inclusion of Special Needs.  I am so happy about ISLA Academy and am thrilled to be part of an excellent team of educators filling an educational gap in my country. This year I am extremely excited to broaden my teaching experience here in ISLA.

I believe that meaningful learning is carried out effectively when playful strategies are integrated into the classes, since these equip children for life. Learning together, we achieve great things, like turning students into classroom explorers. 

Learn2LOVE2Learn