Full-time Staff, Co-Founder
Executive Director - The Learning Instinct, Inc.
With 15 years of experience as an educator, Christen has dedicated her personal and professional life to education and child development. She has taught in traditional high schools in Missouri and California as well as college courses at St. Louis University. She has experience with a variety of educational models, including Montessori and Reggio Emilia approaches. She earned her BA in English from The University of Florida and holds a Masters degree in Spanish with concentration in linguistics and language learning from St. Louis University. In addition to her experience in the classroom, her masters-level work in Secondary Education introduced her to progressive, research-based approaches to teaching and learning.
As a professional educator, she was captivated by the Sudbury model, first reading about it in the book Free to Learn by Dr. Peter Gray. Christen directs the nonprofit MPM Haiti that has supported education and empowerment in Haiti since 2005. She is fluent in Spanish and Haitian Creole and conversational in French. A Miami native, she and her husband returned to Miami in 2014 with their three energetic children. Christen has an incredibly large and dynamic family who has supported her efforts to bring Sudbury education to Miami.
At The Miami Sudbury School, Christen, like all Staff, serves as a mentor and guide for the deep structure of the Sudbury model of student empowerment. She is the elected Admissions Chair, Law Clerk, School Meeting Secretary, JC Secretary, and Staff and Volunteer Coordinator. She enjoys connecting with students without the pressures of homework, grading, and tests. She delights in participating in a system where students take full ownership of their learning and time and loves being part of the incredible growth of young people at The Miami Sudbury School. Visit our Blog for more reflections and insights from Christen.
Erika is a professional children’s librarian who earned her Master of Library and Information Science degree at San Jose State University after receiving a BA in psychology with a focus on language acquisition for English language learners.
Her six years experience as a media specialist in the District of Columbia Public School System drove her belief that all children should have more agency over their educational choices and futures. Erika is an advocate for social justice and believes the promotion of self-directed learning is the key to ensuring an enlightened future for all. She is thrilled and honored to be a part of Miami’s first Sudbury School and looks forward to sharing this important work with the larger community.
In addition to being a mentor and model for students, Erika is the school Registrar, is on the Board of Directors for The Learning Instinct, and, naturally, is an MVP member of the Library Committee at school.
Hitashi Soni Sastry
Hitashi Soni Sastry holds a BA in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore. She is an educator originally from Bangalore, India, where she worked in a progressive play-based Kindergarten infused with elements of the Sudbury model. She worked closely with colleagues who had previously been staff members at Hudson Valley Sudbury School in the U.S. She enjoyed the challenge of connecting the Sudbury approach to the existing culture as well as connecting with other alternative schools in the area. Before that, she worked as a Special Educator for a nonprofit organization.
Hitashi is a certified scuba diver and enjoys sports, cooking, dogs, and cats, among other things. She brings her enthusiasm for the Sudbury model, her experience with young people, and her thoughtful, curious, and open-minded nature to The Miami Sudbury School Community.