Our Team

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.

Stephanie Alvarez


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.

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


Spanish Teacher 

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.

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.

Maria Steen

Volunteer Support Staff

I am  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.

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Contact Us

Tel: (593) 95 976 9346

Email: rootsandwingsayampe@gmail.com


Roots and Wings

Ayampe, Manabi, Ecuador