“I want to help make the world a better place, and what greater way to do that than to guide the next generation? Working with kids, teaching them about kindness and compassion, gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow.”
Lead Teacher & Creator of YAM Sessions
With four years of experience teaching in the public schools of Illinois, Liesel discovered the dire need to lay a strong foundation in social/emotional skills before teaching anything else. “Children need to feel safe and happy, like they're a part of a community, before they can open their minds to learn.” She was known for incorporating yoga, art, and music into her academic lessons to make learning fun and to help create that sense of community. They’d breathe and stretch, paint and collage, sing and clap. Liesel also would put on puppet shows, jump into dance breaks, and spontaneously burst into improvised song on a daily basis. After which, her favorite question would inevitably follow: How are these activities benefitting your students' academic scores? To which she'd reply, “When we share positive interactions, we connect. When we connect, we feel emotionally safe. And when we feel emotionally safe, our brains are ready and able to learn.” It’s fairly simple logic, and yet most schools still prioritize the end result rather than the necessary first step of human connection. Many students fall behind academically because they don't feel connected socially or emotionally, which is why Liesel was determined to teach from the heart rather than the book.
She and her students would have friendly competitions to see who could find more opportunities to show kindness or have compassion. In turn, children from many different walks of life learned to focus on their commonalities rather than their differences, and they quickly became a close-knit family. With a classroom full of love and support - from not only their teacher, but more importantly their peers - students felt safe to ask questions and seek out help when needed. As a result, all of their academic scores improved, and best of all, they made deep, meaningful friendships.
While Liesel couldn't have been more proud of all that she accomplished with her kids in Illinois, she still felt the need to spread her wings. In the fall of 2017, she ventured to Los Angeles in search of sunshine and a new beginning. She knew that she still wanted to work with children, but she was hesitant to dive back into a structured school setting. After witnessing the incredible social/emotional benefits that yoga, art, and music gave her students, she was eager to provide that foundation to as many children as possible. So, when California came through with its endless sunshine, Liesel manifested her new beginning, and YAM Sessions was born.