Our Team

Vanessa and Ryan Lavigne



Vanessa and 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 begian 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 and Reiki Practitioner as well as certified Thai Massage Therapist. Vanessa studied Psychology in University with a Minor in History.

As a child Ryan didn't fit into the traditional education system and struggled through out. He wanted togive his children an education that didn't label them and put them in a box.  He loves sport and sees the benefits of teaching sports to children.  He runs the surf portion of the school.  He loves being outside and can also find a project to work on with his children. 


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.

Stephanie Alvarez


B.Sc., B.Ed.,

Instructional Coach,

RYT 200 hours, Reiki and Sound Healing Practitioner

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.

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.

Angela Norton


Angela Norton is an experienced ecologist and environmental educator. Having managed and worked on projects for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and The Wildlife Trusts for twenty years. Graduating with a Masters inLandscape and Wildlife Conservation she has blended her ecological background into her teaching career by becoming a freelance Forest School and Farm Schools Practitioner and delivering biological and geographical field work skills to GCSE and A level grades in the UK.  
She regards herself as a facilitator rather than a teacher, enabling learning throughpractical experience and exploration and the encouragement of an inquisitive mind. 
For the past seven years Angela has also been living and working in an intentional community running its own organic, self sufficient farm. She is excited to develop ways in which the children at Roots and Wings can develop their own projects growing their own food, understanding agroecology, developing greening projects...........building self resilience, community responsibility and lessening reliance on consumption andconsumerism all through experiential learning.

“Learning never stops, I am so excited to have the opportunity to develop so many new skills myself, to surf, speak Spanish, cook amazing Ecuadorian cuisine, make new friends and experience new cultures. We are the ones with the messy hair, the dirty feet and a sparkle in our eyes, if we just stay open to the possibilities.
Angela is delighted to have been offered the position at Roots and Wings and is very much looking forward to becoming an active member of Ayampes’ wider community.

Gabriela Leon

Legal Advisor

MSc. Law, Anthropology and Society

Juridicaleon provides full bilingual English-Spanish services with eight years of legal expertise. We are known for our trustworthy, efficient and personalized services. All of our legal practices are provided in person or online, which is ideal for the exceptional lifestyle of our clients.

Juridicaleon is led by Gabriela León, a former human-rights lawyer who has chosen to live on the Southern Coast of Ecuador and dedicate her services to the thriving communities around the region. Juridicaleon was born as an entrepreneurship and a lifestyle that envisions the possibility of offering the best legal service regardless of the location, recognizing that every undertaking and every project requires the collaboration of others. 

That is why, Juridicaleon is made up of a network of collaborators, university students, marketing consultants, editors, accountants, and has a strategic alliance with several lawyers in various fields in Quito. At Juridicaleon, we are a multidisciplinary network committed to offer the best quality service that fits your lifestyle.


Juridicaleon specializes in: 

  • legal advisory services for businesses of all kinds

  • legal support for hotels, companies, and charities or fundraising efforts

  • legal advice on migration, visas and residencies

  • legal advice for the purchase or sale of land or real estate




I’m Maria from Norway and have a master’s degree in business from Edinburgh University. After graduating, I moved to Amsterdam where I took on a job with Cisco as a partner manager after going through an intensive technical and sales program known as CSAP. 

In my spare time I like to read, hike in nature and be with my family. I love animals and grew up with horses, cats and dogs. Lately I’ve become very interested in yoga and mindfulness which I practice every day. I find Roots and Wings educational philosophy very inspiring and feel lucky to soon be part of it. 

During my time at school, I was appointed mentor and came to realize how much I enjoyed supporting younger students. I also spent a summer in Cost Rica volunteering at a local school and found that very rewarding. 
I decided to leave a safe job in Cisco to do something I’ve always wanted to do. This is an opportunity for me to hopefully bring some value while also experiencing Latin culture and practice my Spanish.



Mi nombre es Renatta, tengo 22 años, soy de Argentina.
Terminé la secundaria en Córdoba, Argentina,luego estudie Reiki y empecé a viajar por Centro América y Sudamerica. Soy independiente, viajo haciendo murales.
Me gusta el deporte, corro, practico yoga y hago acrobacia sobre telas. Amo a los niños, me gusta jugar, divertirme, aprender de ellos y enseñarles lo que tengo para dar.  
Mí alimentación es parte de mí círculo de bienestar, me alimento sano y conscientemente, en lo cotidiano como vegana pero no me defino como tal. Me gusta aprender a cuidarme cada vez más, amandome para dar lo mejor de mí a los seres que me rodean.
Autoconocimiento y reflexión como filosofía de vida.

Marjorie Gianella Del Peso


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 ellos
Actualmente forma parte de roots and wings y está muy ansiosa por seguir compartiendo esa experiencia día a día con los niños y profesores

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Contact Us

Tel: (593) 95 976 9346

Email: rootsandwingsayampe@gmail.com


Roots and Wings

Ayampe, Manabi, Ecuador