Our Team - Las Terrenas

Sean Bennett
Director, Co-founder
Bachelor of Education, University of Georgia, USA

I began mentoring the youth in my hometown of Brunswick, Georgia when I was just 16 years old.  Teaching and guidance were a part of me before I ever knew what I "wanted to be when I grew up".  I worked at after-school and summer camps, led youth group activities, and umpired local youth baseball games until I entered the University of Georgia on scholarship.

Once there, I began my studies in Early Childhood Education.  My courses focused on educational psychology, special education, multiculturalism, and mathematics.  During my time as an undergraduate, I began working for a state-funded mental health organization providing group activity therapy to children with emotional behavior disorders.  This experience eventually led me to begin offering counseling in the homes and schools of these young people.  I worked closely with licensed counselors to develop behavioral goals.  I then assisted the children in achieving those goals in their homes and communities.

One year before graduating, I began offering counseling to foster children and their estranged parents with the goal of family reunification.  I assisted parents with their court-mandated case plans and provided parenting classes to improve success rates after reunification.  I also worked with the foster children to help re-build relationships with their birth parents while also maintaining a positive experience at their foster placement.  On weekends, I ran "The Granny House", a small home placement for foster children that had no other place to go.  While the youth were there, I served as their parent, mentor, teacher, and counselor until we could find a relative or foster home for them.


Seeing a need in our community to provide alternatives to incarceration for our teenagers, I started Impact Counseling and Consulting.  Shortly after the project began, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Georgia and then began studying Law at Georgia State University.  Within 18 months, Impact Counseling was the largest provider of counseling to juvenile offenders in northeast Georgia.  We were able to keep 183 of our first 200 clients out of juvenile detention centers.  To do this, I led group counseling sessions on issues ranging from anger management to substance abuse. I also provided college and career counseling, GED training, and job placement assistance.

In 2008, I moved to South Korea to teach at English Zone Academy. While there, I developed the curriculum and initiated adult English classes for local chemical engineers.  I also provided one-on-one counseling and English lessons to Korean students seeking to study in the United States.

In 2010, I began teaching IELTS training classes in Vietnam to students intending to study internationally.  In addition, I served as the English language professor at Infoworld University.  When possible, I also taught both elementary and high school classes at the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City.

After leaving Vietnam, I was chosen to be a principal for the brand-new satellite Primary School campus of an international school in Tanzania.  While there, I developed the administrative and physical structures of the school.  I improved upon existing policies from the school's main campus and helped to push advancements in the areas of parent involvement, cross-curricular learning, health and hygiene, and green practices.  I assisted in the design of after-school programs, a winter camp, a school playground, and football fields.  During my tenure, our school was the fastest-growing international Lower Primary school in Tanzania with consistent growth rates of 15% over the first three years.

I spent 2014 and 2015 as the Head of the English Department for the Liceo Cientifico in Salcedo, Dominican Republic.  The Liceo Cientifico is the Dominican Republic’s first STEM magnet school in the country.  There, I developed the most rigorous English curriculum in the country, using proven methods of assessment.  I designed entrance exams, led workshops in teacher training, and, most significantly, prepared my students to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the prerequisite for entering any international university. 

I now seek to share with other educators my experiences in developing schools and counseling programs in the US, Asia, the Dominican Republic, and Africa.  I have two beautiful children and an unquenchable desire to provide a world-class education to them and our community.  I believe in setting high expectations for all learners and emphasize teaching students to be stewards of the earth. My experiences serving students from a variety of abilities, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds has led me to be a staunch advocate for teaching to an array of learning styles.

Rebeccca Baker de Martinez
Director of Operations
Bachelor of Arts, Primary Education, Birmingham City University, England

Saludos! My name is Rebecca Baker de Martinez, and whilst I am originally from a small town in the center of England, I have lived and taught here on the North Coast, with my identical twin sister, since 2011.  


During my time here I married my wonderful husband and have become a mother to two children. We are currently expecting baby number 3! I founded ‘Cabarete Playgroup’ years ago to allow parents and their little ones to meet, chat and play on the beach. I threw myself into Dominican life right from the beginning, by residing in a local ‘barrio’. This is where I was able to learn Spanish and immerse myself in the local culture. 


Since graduating with a BA (HONS) in Primary Education back in 2009, I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to teach in a range of age phases, from three-year-old pre-school students to Seventh Graders. I have taught at International Schools here on the North Coast since I arrived all those years ago and have felt privileged to meet so many inquiring young minds and their supportive families. I am so excited about the existence of ISLA Academy and am thrilled to be part of an excellent team of educators filling an educational gap that had been felt within the community for quite some time. You will find me in the office, where I act as Assistant Director. Please do come by and say hello! 


In my spare time, I like to get creative, drawing, making party decorations, accessories and tutus, as well as crochet blankets, flowers and footless sandals for babies and toddlers. I am very much looking forward to this jam-packed academic year and all of the fun that we will have along the way!

Franco Rodriguez
Curriculum Coordinator
Master of Education, University of Northern Colorado, USA
Bachelor of Science, Colorado State University, USA;

Hola!  My name is Franco Rodriguez and I am very excited to work with ISLA Academy.  I am from Colorado in the United States, but most recently, I worked in Shanghai, China, where I taught in IB-PYP international schools for five years.  Prior to China, I lived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for two years where I taught in an IB-PYP candidate international school, and in Seoul, South Korea teaching at an English language school for one year.


My IB-PYP experience has been extensive and rewarding.  I really believe in the IB-PYP curriculum as it promotes the development of each student’s intellectual, emotional, social, and physical self.  Students will inevitably become caring, active, life-long global learners.  IB-PYP uses an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning that encourages students to think about their prior knowledge, ask questions, find out new information, sort that information, decide how they can further their knowledge or skill acquisition, reflect on what they have learned, and take action with local or global issues.  


My experience with the IB-PYP curriculum includes planning and collaboration with teachers and administrators both in the school and at various regional conferences and professional development opportunities.  I have attended IB-PYP sanctioned conferences on Concept-Based Learning, Language in the Classroom, the beginner course called Making the PYP Happen, Assessment, Transdisciplinary Learning, and other non-PYP sanctioned conferences such as Differentiation in the Classroom.  At each of these, I was able to meet other PYP teachers in China and across Asia, discuss how they interpret the PYP teaching and learning, and gain resources and ideas of how to implement PYP in the classroom.


In addition to my experience inside of schools, I have tried to use my free time in creative and helpful ways in my community.  I volunteered at orphanages in South Korea and Vietnam teaching students about music and reading to them.  In Shanghai, I helped form a folk band, wrote many songs in five years, and played for many audiences surrounding Shanghai and Beijing.  With that band, we toured Mongolia and stopped in at orphanages and shared our musical experiences with them as well. 

Sanne van De Vilery
Administrative Assistant
Currently pursuing degree i

Hello! My name is Sanne van de Vliert. This year will be my first year working for ISLA academy after being a student there for two years.


I am from the Netherlands and moved to the Dominican Republic in 2017. When choosing a new school in a different country I immediately felt comfortable at the ISLA campus and the type of learning. 


Being a student at ISLA has been an amazing experience and I learned a lot what I would not have learned at other schools. I also learned that I love to write & teach and got my TEFL certificate in my senior year. 


I have taught private English classes and have been a tutor for two years now. I am happy to now become part of the ISLA team, not as a student but as the new administrative assistant in Las Terrenas!


Nykia Blue
Financial Director
Post-Graduate Certificate in Primary Education and Early Years
Bachelor of Arts in Development, Politics, and Education



I am a jolly and caring person who has taught primary aged children for the last 12 years. I have worked in private, public and NGO schools in England, Bolivia, the Cayman Islands,  Italy and India. This wealth of teaching and living experiences over the years has lead me to develop my teaching abilities and skills into more of a holistic and Integral approach to Education, that not only focuses on academics, but on the child's development as a whole. This amazing journey as a teacher, has taught me that the best teacher is not someone that holds an infinite amount of knowledge; as these days Google search can do that job just as well, but a good teacher is someone that recognises the importance of providing a space where every child feels supported to pursue their interests, vocations and dreams. Alongside teaching children, I also have other passions: I teach Yoga, I am a Massage and Aqua Therapist and a Reiki Practitioner. So if you are interested in knowing more about any of my work, come and speak to me as it would be my pleasure to get to know the members of the wider school community.


May 14, 2019

April 24, 2019

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