Our Team

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Vanessa Lavigne

Founder and Director 

Vanessa and her husband Ryan  are originally from Canada but left in 2009 in search of adventure and freedom.  They found that in Ayampe. They have successfully run a Spanish, Surf and Yoga school since 2010. When their children were born their lives dramatically change.  Like many parents, from early on, education was always on their minds.  Vanessa began an extensive journey thru education and many of its different forms. She homeschooled her children for 2 years and in that time developed her own curriculum based on several methodologies; its core foundation is in a whole education that taught not just to the mind but to the body and spirit. 

Since 2013 Vanessa has been leading Yoga teacher training and wanted to bring that into her children's education. She is 200-ERYT, Ayurveda Level One Practitioner and Reiki Level 2 Practitioner as well as certified Thai Massage Therapist. Vanessa studied Psychology in University with a Minor in History.

Roots and Wings was created out of the desire to provide their children with a whole education; to bring families and communities together with the goal of providing a safe, nurturing and individualist education. Roots and Wings was established in 2018 and is growing stronger every year.

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Stephanie Alvarez

Founder of Toronto Holistic Pods

I began my teaching journey at a young age instructing swimming and tutoring. I spent 6 years with Oxford Learning Center as an Education Coordinator before graduating from Teachers College and then moving to live and teach in the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, I explored and embraced different healing modalities to create a balanced life for myself before being able to share it with others. Stepping back from the traditional education system made me aware that there lacked a balance between academics and other important skill sets like emotional intelligence, connection with nature, and mindfulness, therefore, not fully preparing students for a path that was not academically focused or self-driven.

We need to start thinking about the kind of future we need and which skills and qualities we will be passing the new generation to bring it to fruition.  This is why I believe holistic education and small group learning is needed for a balanced and peaceful world.

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Rachel Toppin

Ocupational Therapist

Rachel originates from Canada, where she completed her studies at the University of Alberta, graduating with a Master's of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2013. She has extensive experience working with adolescents and children aged 2-17, working as an Occupational Therapist in both family homes and school settings. Rachel brings with her a holistic background in supporting children to grow and learn by becoming in tune with their bodies, minds, and emotions. She understands that development begins with play, exploration, and social connection. In addition, Rachel has completed her 200 hour YTT in Hatha yoga, has completed her foundational training with the Trauma Center for Trauma Sensitive Yoga, and has several continuing education courses in the area of special needs: sensory approaches to eating, autism, self-regulation, and developing motor skills. In her spare time, Rachel is an avid yogi, hiker, passionate in developing her surf and Spanish skills, as well as enjoys writing and cooking! She is excited to add her spirit and energy to both Roots and Wings and Om Healing Center School Program.


Marjorie Gianella Del Peso

Spanish Teacher 

Ella es Marjorie Gianella Del Peso, es una joven Ecuatoriana , se graduó en contabilidad. Después de terminar sus estudios decidió cambiar de dirección su vida e incursionar en otro tipo de trabajo, uno en el que se sienta bien y cada día sea una experiencia que pueda recordar con gran satisfacción.Se caracteriza por ser una persona responsable, prestar mucha atención y sobre todo ayudar.En momentos óseos le gusta practicar portugués, costura con su madre, fotografía, ir a la playa a observar atardeceres o de excursión con sus amigos.Cuando se le dio la oportunidad de trabajar en roots and wings se intereso mucho por la idea de pasar tiempo con los niños porque le parece tan agradable que siempre hay algo mas por aprender de ellosActualmente forma parte de roots and wings y está muy ansiosa por seguir compartiendo esa experiencia día a día con los niños y profesores


Silvia Del Peso

Spanish Teacher 

Silvia Del Peso nació en la costa de Ecuador, se graduó en contabilidad 
Este es su primer trabajo interactuando con niños, el estar en Root and Wings es una fuente de energía positiva, inspiración y nuevos comienzos  para ella 

En su tiempo libre disfruta de la literatura, escribir, bailar, practicar e investigar la cocina culinaria . Se caracteriza por ser positiva, amable, que se esfuerza  por comprender y escuchar las necesidades de quienes la rodean 
Su mente está deseosa de aprender el mundo en el habita cada niño, del arte que se mezcla con las emociones del corazón, como llegar a ellos para crear nuevos entornos de conocimientos, valores humanos y autosatisfacción


Margaux Danon 

Home Economics Teacher

Margaux originally comes from France. She attended the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle in France where she studied Cultural Art.  She is a professional artist with interest in both Painting, Leather Designs, Sewing and Jewelry.  She is so excited to be a permanent staff member at Roots and Wings. She runs the Home Economics Program where she introduces the children to knitting, sewing, baking, jewelry making, and much more. Margaux always encourages the children to use their imagination in her class. She supports the children in both English, Spanish and French. All of her classes help to encourage fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and give a safe space for children to express themselves.


Jade Franklin

Volunteer Support Staff

Jade grew up in California, and always knew that she wanted to work with children and youth. She believes that nurturing children's innate compassion and curiosity will help to create a more peaceful and tolerant society. For this reason, she pursued a Bachelor's degree in Child Development from California Polytechnic State University. Throughout her time in college, she worked as a reading tutor conducting reading interventions for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. She has always had an interest in holistic education and dreams of reforming the United States public school system because her education illuminated many of the weaknesses in the system. She has completed yoga and mindfulness trainings, and has experience teaching children of many different backgrounds. Her love of travel and immersing herself in different cultures paired with her drive to learn more about holistic education is what brought her to this position at Roots and Wings.