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Meet Patricia Leon of Miami Nature Playschool in North Miami and Little River

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patricia Leon.

Patricia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Ten years ago, I arrived in Miami from Peru, I did not have children in mind but a few months after I was here, I discovered that I was pregnant. That’s how I had to leave my business consulting job in my country and think about how I was going to raise my daughter.

For more than a decade, I worked in the Leadership Center of a university in my country, our students were from school-age children to presidents of multinational companies but everyone in their level needed the same and that is why we existed; they needed a guide to feel comfortable with themselves either in their personal lives, as students or professionals, this experience allowed me to be clear about my expectations as a mother, what I expected my daughter to have in her life as an adult, now what I needed was to find the magic key that would help me open the way to become a content person with herself, a person consistent with her actions who is happy with her decisions, whether they are good or bad.

After reading books about parenting and educational methodologies, the -A-Ha- moment came and I discovered what was for me the key that would allow me to connect my work experience with my mother role, the opportunity to develop those personal and intrapersonal skills at an early age. that every human being needs to be able to locate themselves in their community and discover their role in society.

It was like that between the depression that afflicted me for all the sudden changes in my life that included a baby I did not expect, not having any relatives in this country, having to adopt from one moment to another the role of wife and mother , the lack of money and the discovery that in Florida, I do not need to have an education career to work in childcare that I decided to create my own activities based on what I was looking for my daughter and little by little the group of interested families in listening to what I had to say was growing and we went from getting together in the parks and organizing activities with different organizations to have a permanent space where we could meet and create communities of parents with the same interests for child rearing based on nature.

In actuality, we receive donations for a scholarship thru our Non For Profit Organization of the Childhood Nature Project and Miami Nature Playschool is an active member of the four biggest organizations advocating for Nature-Based Education and to protect Childhood as we remind it. I and our team participate as a speaker sharing our experience developing the Forest Kindergarten philosophy in South Florida and our methodology of using Leadership insights to support parenting and strength our multi-ethnic community.

Has it been a smooth road?
I would like to say that there were many obstacles along the way but I feel that everything happened as it should be, there were people who seemed like soulmates and turned out not to, personal and professional disappointments, not having money to move faster or make ideas come true , fear of not doing things as they should, the doubts of not knowing if what you are doing makes sense or not, that everyone does not accept you as you are or that they say you have a bad character because you do not do what they want.

The only challenge throughout this time has been to remain consistent with the philosophy through the changes that the program has gone through since its conception, having to reinvent myself personally as a mother, woman, professional and now a businesswoman without losing my original vision but the most arduous of all is to be an example of persistence and resilience for my daughter who has been the reason why this project emerged without prior conception.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Miami Nature Playschool – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
At MNP, we advocate protecting childhood by offering an open-air classroom where play is the main means of learning and where each adult, whether a parent or one of our mentors, is prepared to support the social and emotional development of the children belonging to each community or program.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
So far, there have been three proudest moments on these years:

1. From having the power to develop from scratch a space where parents in charge of raising their children can find other families with the same thought, where they can find support and spend time sharing ideas and best practices about parenting.

2. Throughout the last years, and with the growth of the program, it is a pride to be able to offer a source of income to 10 women whose priority is to improve the early education system, create a working space where their children are welcome and become part of their professional development.

3. When my daughter, who is 10 now tells me that she has not changed her mind (since she is five years old) she wants to be an entomologist and discover new insects, work rescuing animals especially cheetah and continue with the program and teaching the children when I retire.

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