Prioritizing Connection and Empathy with Lizette Valles | Tanya Sheckley | 1 Min Read

April 4, 2024

On this Rebel Educator® podcast, Tanya Sheckley has a conversation about the power of fostering connection and empathy to support students holistically with Lizette Valles, M.Ed., the founder of Ellemercito Academy, a Los Angeles-based microschool, with a focus on project/place-based learning. Her mission is to nurture students who think critically, develop a growth mindset, and demonstrate profound empathy. She is dedicated to reimagining education and implementing trauma-informed approaches in out-of-system school models such as the fast-growing small school movement.

For over 16 years, her career in education has included teaching middle/high school English, serving as a K-12 librarian, publishing La tierra de los calcetines perdidos, a bilingual children’s picture book, launching Compass Educators: A Holistic Educational Services Co., and homeschooling students during the pandemic before founding Ellemercito Academy in 2021.


  • Lizette’s journey to becoming an educator, starting at age 5.
  • How the pandemic shifted Lizette’s approach to supporting students in a more holistic way.
  • Why prioritizing empathy and connection is the foundation of learning.
  • What it means to be a microschool and how Ellemercito functions as a hybrid microschool for homeschooling families.
  • The role microschools are playing in the evolution of education.
  • Using alternative methods of assessment to create complete profiles of students and the ways that they learn.
  • Trauma-informed approaches and how they can be used to better connect and problem solve with students.


You may also be interested in reading article written by Tanya Sheckley and listening to more Rebel Educator podcasts on Intrepid Ed News.

Tanya Sheckley

Tanya Sheckley is Founder and President of UP Academy, an elementary lab school which values innovation, empathy and strength and incorporates a unique neuro-development program for children with physical disabilities. Tanya’s vision and mission show it’s possible to celebrate differences, change what’s broken in the American education system, and that all children can receive a rigorous, well-rounded education. She is an Edpreneur, Author of Rebel Educator: Create Classrooms of Imagination and Impact and host of the Rebel Educator podcast. She speaks frequently on the future of education and entrepreneurship. She is a rebel educator who works with new and existing schools to question the status quo and develop innovative student experiences through inclusion and project-based learning.

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