Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Pinto.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My story begins in Colombia. I’m from a beautiful small town called Manizales, in which there are extremes of education. Some children have the opportunity for rich experiences, others are provided with inadequate schools that fail to enrich their lives. My dad’s family has been in Miami for many years, and I joined them when I continued my education at the University of Miami. The original goal was to a CFO of a really big company and develop a prominent business career.
My focus shifted after the birth of my daughter. I became more people-orientated. I wanted to know more about the needs of people and invested my time to help them fulfill those needs. I found my passion and purpose in life – human development. The central theme of this is education. Once a person is empowered with meaningful learning experiences, they can discover ways to achieve their needs. Shortly after becoming a mother, I left a lucrative business career, including my dream of being a finance officer. My goal became the development of a progressive school that provides meaningful learning experiences.
In 2011, Nita Yeung and I founded La Piazza Academy, motivated by a vision to provide high-quality education and innovative programming for young children. Since that time, La Piazza Academy has been my main focus and passion. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, social constructivist theories as well as Miami’s multi-lingual community, the school implements a creative and emergent curriculum including “green” school practices and a multi-lingual language program (Spanish, English, and Mandarin).
La Piazza Academy’s first class had an enrollment of 15 students, including my own children and Mayor Cason’s grandchildren. The school has grown to two campuses and over 150 students between PreK-1 and 3rd Grade. We will continue expanding to 5th grade as I make my dream a reality.
Has it been a smooth road?
For me, it’s been a smooth road because of hard work, dedication, goal setting and accomplishment of those goals. Of course, there were times that were difficult, and I doubted if my goals would be achieved. At the same time, I always had a lot of faith that things were going to turn out alright. I always had in my mind the mantra “if things weren’t meant to be they would not happen”. La Piazza Academy opened with a purpose. This school will succeed in its mission.
I always think positively and realistically. While there are challenges, the personal experience gained in the positive development of the future generation makes the struggles seem easy as I see children succeed.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with La Piazza Academy – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
La Piazza Academy is a progressive school for children ages 1 through elementary. It embraces 21st-century education, cutting-edge curriculum, and socio-emotional development. Our students are academically brilliant and responsible, compassionate citizens. I am the founder and Head of School. My role is to oversee the operation of the school and to ensure the well-being of every member of our community from the children to the teachers and families.
For me, the most beautiful part of La Piazza Academy is our community. People who join our school feel like they are part of a family. Every year, my team provides a stronger direction for the overall human development aspect of our program for children and families. It’s not just a scripted curriculum, there is much more than that at our school. We invest in the personal growth of every child and adult in our school.
What sets La Piazza Academy apart from other schools is our purpose to make a difference in the world. Our creative approach to childhood education values the capability and innate curiosity in each child. Children thrive in an educational environment rich in exploration and discovery fueled by their natural ability to wonder. Learning is a happy, exciting experience where teaching and learning are guided by the needs and interests of our children. Innovative curriculum and supportive teachers encourage students to tackle problems as well as to embrace adventures and challenges rooted in real life situations. Within a supportive and collaborative environment, children are safe to take risks, ask questions and explore new intellectual and emotional territories.
What do you like best about our city? What do you like least about our city?
I love that Miami is a happy city. When you wake up, it’s sunny. It instantly creates a happy vibe and brightens my sense of humor. I love that Miami is a diverse city. People here are from all parts of the world. It creates a hometown feel with the opportunity to learn and live amongst other cultures.
Miami is a city with great opportunities to grow in different aspects. As a young city, Miami continues to develop. In terms of education, there is a lot to do. Progressive education is my passion, and I am dedicated to implementing this approach to learning. Miami needs to modernize its approach to education, and I wholeheartedly support the improvement of our schools.
Education should be more 21st century relevant and culturally sensitive. What I don’t like about Miami is the same thing that I love about it. Miami is a city that still needs development in different areas. More businesses are interested in coming to Miami as a strategic approach to Latin America. With the rise in families, there is a demand for better schools. Compared to other cities in the U.S., Miami needs to do more for education. I’m excited to be part of the shift toward better education for our city’s children.