“Education either functions
as an instrument to...bring about conformity or it
becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate
in the transformation of their world" ~Paulo Freire
Learn more about our advisors.
Escuela Verde staff come from diverse backgrounds, but all share the same belief: that education is the key to personal liberation, that students must be owners of their education, and that learning is a life-long journey we are all traveling. All of our certified educational advisors are not only expert in their fields (some hold or are completing Master’s and PhD degrees), they are passionate about sustainability, student-led learning, and restorative justice. All have many years of teaching experience and comply with DPI standards.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico to a family of immigrants, Nayla grew up seeing the entire world as her home. Wanting to engage in the global efforts to take action towards remediating our environmental crisis, she set out to be trained as a problem solver.
In 2010, Nayla completed her BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. After visiting/traveling through many different university laboratories and working in different environmentally-focused projects throughout her undergraduate years, she had to choose between her love for science and discovery, or her itching passion to experience the
real world. Thinking that she could always go back to the lab, she decided to begin a journey away from home and joined General Mills in 2011.
During the time she spent in the food manufacturing industry Nayla grew as a leader and systems thinker, and was able to gain a new understanding on food-- that which is driven by consumer insights and productivity. Being a part of this, Nayla was baffled by the dichotomy between that which we should eat and that which we want to eat. This curiosity grew as social justice and policy issues began to shed light into the growing gap between access to good food, education, and choice.
Seeking to take action towards a progressive future Nayla found Escuela Verde as a volunteer and joined as an Advisor in 2015. At Escuela Verde, Nayla aims to ignite curiosity among our students and community, and enable transcendental experiences around meals.Nayla is currently completing her certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) which will one day enable her to build community and eat new foods around the world. In the meantime, Nayla spends her free time cooking, completing MOOCs, planning biking adventures around the world, and flying back to Puerto Rico to see her beloved family.
Cynthia Gonzalez is a strong advocate for maintaining bilingual education in secondary school settings. Her extensive educational experiences with youth align with Escuela Verde’s vision to provide transformative education as a way to engage students in learning. She believes that students are agents of change and are able to actively participate in critical issues surrounding their communities.
Her capacity at Escuela Verde as an Advisor involves guiding students forge their own learning path and provide students with learning opportunities inside and outside the school environment. Her collective administrative roles include, student enrollment and recruitment, parent engagement, and development of bilingual program. Cynthia's research interest include language acquisition, bilingual and bi-cultural education, bi-literacy development, urban education, identity and culture, sustainability and environmental education.
Cynthia received her Bachelors from Alverno College in 2009 and a masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 2016. She is researching how translanguaging as a pedagogical practice affect students’ bilingualism/biliteracy development and culture identity. She is a proponent of students reading, writing and speaking in their native language and cultivating an environment where this is the norm. She is part of the Latino task force of United Way of greater Milwaukee, currently sits on the board of Serve Marketing and is an active volunteer to many non-profit organizations.
She balances her life as an educator with biking, running, cooking/baking, reading and connecting with diverse people. Cynthia has traveled to several countries in South America, where she dreams to live and teach someday. She has a six-year-old nephew who she adores and inspires her daily work.
With nearly twenty years of urban science teaching experience, Joey is a passionate teacher researcher with scholarly interests
in ecopedagogical praxis and scientific literacy with urban youth.
Joey believes Escuela Verde’s student-centered, project-based learning approach to teaching and learning is the missing link
to student success. Through integrating sustainability and restorative justice into a school-wide curriculum, students not
only have the ability to make learning relevant to their lives,
but are encouraged to take action for positive change in their communities. Drawing from her experience as the Urban
Ecology Center’s Washington Park program director, she is passionate about including community voice and resources
to provide authentic experiences for all students.
Joey’s hobbies include playing music in several independent bands, playing roller derby with the Brewcity Bruisers and spending time with family and friends restoring native prairie, wetlands and creating a permaculture orchard on a small plot of land in central Wisconsin. p> Joey received her B.S. in biology, psychology, women’s studies and secondary education and M.S. in environmental education at UW-Stevens Point. She completed her Ph.D. in Urban Education with a specialization in curriculum and instruction and science at UW-Milwaukee. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on curriculum ideologies and science pedagogy at UW-Milwaukee and has been an active board member for numerous local, state and national boards including Milwaukee Urban Gardens, Brewcity Bruisers, Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Environmental Justice Special Interest Group