In what part of town do you live?
I live in Kendall.
How long have you lived in the area?
25 years. I was born in New York and raised in Miami.
You mentioned at the market that you recently moved back to Miami. Where were you living?
In July of 2017, I moved to New York to teach. I moved there particularly because their education system is geared towards ‘zip code not determining destiny’ and trying to close the education gap. The values of the organization that I was working for really aligned with what I want to do. It was a great experience which led to the thought of a nonprofit organization, that I’m launching this week.
Will you keep teaching here in Miami?
Yes. I’m going to be teaching now at KIPP Miami. It’s not too far from the airport. So many people are like, ‘oh my God, there’s so many charter schools that are a lot closer’, but KIPP aligns very closely to the work that I was doing in New York. It’s still a brand new school, so I’m going to be one of the founding teachers this year for a new grade level. I’m excited for that.
What did you learn in New York that led you to starting a non-profit?
The biggest thing that I’m taking with me is being able to educate the whole child – teaching kids to be able to cope with their emotions and providing a platform for them to express themselves freely. I learned that mind, body, spirit, and soul are not usually part of the education system.
How have you expanded your awareness of mind and body?
I practice these things on a daily basis. They have helped me on my journey in life. Every day I meditate and I do yoga three to five times a week. I recently started a program called ‘animal flow.’ These practices allow you to move intentionally and be more aware of your body. Having been in the education system for five years, I see how kids don’t know how to cope with their emotions. If a student is not following directions, rather than sending them to the principal’s office, which would trigger the student to be more upset, the mission is to provide them with different tools. I think it’s really important to transfer this knowledge to the kids while they’re still young.
What kind of a lesson might you teach a student to gain more awareness?
One of the easiest practices that I would recommend, to adults too, is taking a few minutes before stepping out of bed, before your feet touch the ground, to count 10 deep breaths. As you start drifting away, return to your breath. That helps with setting clear intentions. This alone can be a game changer.
Would you take a moment and remind us why zip codes should not define your school assignment?
Of course. Typically, every school system is divided by districts. If you live in a certain area, certain zip code, you are assigned one elementary, middle, and high school in that area. A lot of the times, in less fortunate neighborhoods, there isn’t access to resources and therefore the quality of the education isn’t as great. Compare that to a more affluent neighborhood in a different tax bracket, where they may provide things like iPads and computers. The idea that zip code doesn’t determine destiny, allows families to apply through a lottery system to a different school that they can hand pick if they chose to allow their child equal access.
Would you about your non-profit and your goals?
It’s called EmpoweredYouthMinds. The mission is to create a sacred space where kids can just be. A place for kids to be aware of their bodies, being able to meditate, being aware of the emotions, a place to tap into their inner selves. We are starting by meeting up at parks and eventually the goal would be our own facility. Our first event will be on Juneteenth, which is June 19th.
How did you discover LNB?
You came up on a sponsored ad through my Instagram! I went on the page and saw friends that followed your page and I fell in love with the Rainbow smoothie. I realized you guys were literally five minutes away from me. And, I’ve been literally almost every weekend since I discovered you.
What have you picked up when you come?
I’ve had the Rainbow Smoothie, which is 10 out of 10 super consistent. I’ve had the Turmeric Bagels. I’ve had the Turmeric Heart cookies, which are also amazing. The Lychees – amazing. And I’ve had the Turmeric Melts and the ice creams. I’ve loved everything so far. I’m always bragging about it and telling people.
What other places do you like to tell people about?
There’s one place on the beach called ‘Under the Mango Tree.’ It’s predominantly organic. They have Acai bowls, smoothies, and empanadas. There’s another place in Midtown called Thatch that’s 100% plant based and and really good. In Wynwood, there’s a place called Love Life Cafe. It’s also a 10 out of 10 recommend.
Where would you go for a special occasion?
I gravitate toward the beach. After not having the beach and the water and the sun for so many years, I have a different appreciation for nature. Being that I am on summer vacation, I have probably gone to the beach five or six times this week. That’s my treat. I prefer not to be in the crowds, so I typically tend to go towards 69th and Collins. It’s very calm.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
The Glaser farm store on 136th ave and 192nd st. I buy a lot of my herbal medicines, fresh fruits, and fresh greens there. I feel like that’s a place that everybody should know about.
What for you is a worthy splurge?
Honestly good produce. I don’t care how much it is. I’m not looking at the price, if it’s good quality, I’m paying whatever for it.
Is there a question that you would like to ask us?
(AF) What are some new things that you guys are working on for us to try and dabble in?
(A+W) Summertime brings back a lot of people’s favorites. We make fruit roll-ups in the summer when fruit is abundant. From July – February we make our guacamole, which changes throughout the season. The peak is in December when Choquette variety is in season. One day when we didn’t sell out of bagels we made bagel chips. They were a huge hit. We need to find a machine to cut them. We are thinking of serving them with our Turmeric Hummus.
What question, challenge, or words of advice would you like to pose to the community?
Live your truth and be free.