About

Primary Teachers:

Monica Berry
Founder / Teacher / Director

monicaMonica Berry was born and raised in Alameda California. Her first teaching position was at the age of 11 when she began volunteering each summer at the Alameda Swim center where she taught swimming to young children and children with special needs. She had a write up in the local paper for being the youngest person on record to teach in Alameda’s recreational programs. Since that time Monica has naturally gravitated to teaching and it has been a constant throughout her life.

Monica began her training at a private school called the Yin Yang Seminary where she taught kindergarten through second grade. This school offered an alternative approach to education with an emphasis on learning through the arts influenced by Waldorf and Montessori philosophies. The Ying Yang Seminary also offered meditation and self awareness in their daily program. Monica then went on to teach in the more traditional and conservative educational environment of Bianchi Schools which had an emphasis in an academically accelerated educational approach. She began with Bianchi as a teacher then soon advanced to an assistant director’s position followed by a directing position for their Walnut Creek location, which had a capacity of 62. Bianchi Schools began as a private school with six locations throughout the Bay Area and was eventually bought out by a large corporation called Children’s Discovery Centers. Working with Children’s Discovery Centers Monica learned administration and management of private schools. She eventually went on to accept the position of Principal for a private elementary school in Union City. This was a culturally diverse program that was also academically accelerated and offered classes in Kindergarten through fourth grade. This location had a second building on site that offered preschool and after school programs as well. Monica successfully managed both centers and had over 130 families enrolled.

In addition to working with children Monica began her spiritual training at 19 years old and has continued on her path of spiritual development through the practice of meditation and transformative arts, throughout her life. She has traveled extensively in Asia visiting Tibet, China, Thailand, The Philippines and Bali, studying Eastern philosophies and a variety of healing arts. Monica has been a spiritual teacher for nearly 20 years offering counseling and instruction in Meditation, Magnetic Healing and Clairvoyant Development. In addition to this spiritual background Monica has also been a professional singer and producer of live music. Music and spirituality hold a meaningful presence in her life which is very much reflected in the educational approach of Harmony House.

These experiences collectively gave Monica nearly 25 years of teaching and administrative experience encompassing a wide range of educational philosophies. In March of 2009 Monica finally had the opportunity to open her own school, Harmony House Learning Center, incorporating all that she has learned from her years of experience as well as her influences from many opportunities working with highly gifted teachers and inspiring mentors.

Susan Franke
Morning Teacher

susanHello everybody, I gained much of my teaching experience in Spain where I worked for 10 years with a wide variety of ages ranging from preschool age to adults . Shortly upon returning back to the bay area , I began teaching at Harmony House. My contributions include weekly Spanish classes, Yoga and Tai Chi, as well as language arts, writing, science and math activities. One of the things I enjoy the most in my approach with children is being able to create a space to interact individually with each child. I have found that Harmony House creates a learning environment that allows me to connect with children on a one to one basis as well as providing opportunities to lead group activities. I have found this relaxed, supportive and well rounded learning environment allows me to offer my best.

My hobbies include Yoga, meditation, being in nature as much as possible and volunteer work.

I am committed to providing a loving and supportive learning environment for children and in return I receive the benefit of remembering to stay open to the love and wonders of this life . I am happy to have the opportunity to bring my experience , joy and enthusiasm for teaching to Harmony House.

With love and gratitude,

Susan Franke

 


Enrichment Teachers

DonnaDonna Cowan
Music Teacher

Donna Cowan comes to Harmony House with 27 years of experience teaching music to children from kindergarten through sixth grade. A recent transplant to California, she enjoys sharing the joys of making and experiencing many facets of our musical world, especially with bright young children. Her teaching style is based in the Kodaly methodology of music education, which is an experience- based approach focusing on learning music through singing as one learns a mother tongue. Songs and activities are based in the children’s own cultures first then expands into a wide variety of cultures around the world and into advanced musical styles. Donna welcomes visitors into her classroom- just be prepared to join the fun!

 


Substitute Teachers

amakaAmaka Nwigwe
Primary Substitute

I've worked with children for as long as I can remember. From volunteering in reading and after school programs to being a summer camp counselor for several years. I love doing it because for me teaching is satisfying and is the gift of giving. During my free time I enjoy surfing, learning to play my guitar, and traveling.

Love,

Amaka


Testimonials:

I highly recommend Harmony House. The children learn about respect and awareness of feelings, spirit, of nature and of all things with a calm explanation in simple terms. It is very clean and loving and has a family feeling.

Their toys and learning materials are mostly wooden and do not promote trademarked characters. The AM/PM snacks provided are nutritious and include organic fruits and vegetables.

It is very clear that the teachers love the little children that they are caring for and teaching. It is not uncommon to see the children randomly hug the teachers as they can feel their love. There are lots of smiles at this place along with singing and fun.

My daughter has been with this school for over a year now and she loves to be there. Her face beams with joy from her day when I pick her up and she often does not want to come home.

The Hickson Family

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You have been a dream come true for our family. When I walked into Harmony House the energy felt calm, focused and unique. After talking with you for about ten minutes I knew that I had found a true gem for our son.

You saw the beauty in our son and all that he has to offer. As parents, we try to remind our kids about how beautiful they are and make them aware of their strengths. Our hopes are that their teachers and others will do the same. Well, you went way beyond. You know him so well. We knew that he would get the love and be nurtured the way that every child should be.

You have given these children the tools they need to have a healthy and balanced life. They know what it feels like to be grounded. They are aware. I think it will be a long time from now until we truly see the full results of such an environment. We hope that many more children will get this same opportunity as our little guy did!

The Flemming Family

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We would like to thank you for all the love that you have given our daughter over the past two years. Our daughter is always happy and fulfilled when she comes home from Harmony House.

We would also like to thank you for preparing her for next big step into kindergarten. We know that she is more than ready to tackle this new challenge with confidence with all of the skills she has gained at Harmony House.

The Levaux Family

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Harmony House is an amazing learning center for children. The energy surrounding this beautiful home based center is just amazing. The teachers are totally engaged, warm and caring - you can tell they love their work. When I drop my daughter off I feel that she is not only spending the day doing interesting and engaging activities but she is also learning skills that will prepare her for school and keep her grounded and balanced throughout her life. I love when my daughter comes home and is singing a new song she learned or doing her favorite yoga pose and I hardly know where to put all of the pictures she brings home! They have a great outdoor play area, perfect space inside and I love the nutritious snacks they serve! Harmony House is a fun place to be - I wish I could be spending my days there! I recommend this wonderful place with all of my heart.

The Savage Family


The Symbol of the Sunflower:

sunflowerOur school opened in the spring of 2009 and that summer we had three children graduating into kindergarten . I was preparing for the graduation ceremony and wanted to purchase flowers to give to the children. I have always liked the idea of giving a flower with a diploma because it’s such a powerful symbol of beauty and life so I headed off to the flower shop with the intention of purchasing roses. When I arrived I began taking in the wide variety of flowers and I noticed the Sunflower standing tall among the bouquets, its golden petals shining brightly without apology. I chose the sunflower that day for our ceremony and the children loved them! The image of the Sunflower stuck with me and I decided to use it as a symbol for Harmony House thinking the cheerful image would capture the essence of our school. In the summer of 2010 we graduated seven children into Kindergarten. When we began the preparations for our graduation ceremony I decided to write a blessing (listed below). Our ceremony was magical and inspirational. We were all deeply moved by the expression of joy and beauty when the children were handed their bright sunflowers after crossing our graduation bridge. It was not until later that evening after our ceremony was over that I decided to look up the meaning of the sunflower and came upon, “The Message of the Sunflowers” (also listed below). I was stunned as I was reminded there are no coincidences as we make these seemingly random choices.

With Love and much amusement,
Monica Berry
Founder of Harmony House Learning Center
and The Conscious Collective …. Center for transformative arts

Blessing:

The Sunflower is the chosen symbol for Harmony House. It serves to remind us of the joy and beauty of life.

Some will walk along their path, come upon a flower and trample it never noticing the flowers existence

Some will walk along their path, come upon a flower and walk around it, untouched by its beauty.

Some will walk along their path, come upon a flower and admire its petals gaining inspiration from the beauty that generously radiates into the world.

May you be blessed with the ability to recognize the beauty, love and joy that is generously offered to you each day and may it give you inspiration.

 

The Message of the Sunflowers:
A Magic Symbol of Peace
by Georgianna Moore, March 2002

Dedicated to the Children of the World Who Will Sow the Sunflower Seeds of Peace

Once upon a time the earth was even more beautiful than it is today. The water was pure and deep, reflecting within itself the sunlight which gave life to all the creatures beneath the waves.

The earth was green with many kinds of trees and plants. These gave food and shelter to the birds, the animals, and to all mankind. At night the air was so clear that the starlight gave a glow almost as bright as the moon.

The people of the earth lived close to nature. They understood it and honored it and never took more than what they needed from it. The people lived in peace so they prospered and began to build many nations all around the world according to nature's climate.

But one day, a terrible thing happened. A strange spirit of greed entered the hearts of mankind. People began to be jealous of one another, and they were not satisfied will all the good things they already had. The nations wanted more and more of everything: more land, more water, more resources. They squeezed precious minerals from the earth to build terrible weapons to defend their nations from other greedier nations. They killed one another. They polluted the air and the water with poisons. Nature began to die. This is called war. War is ugly. It destroys love and hope and peace.

Then one day a magical thing occurred. The birds of the air, the animals of the land, and the creatures beneath the waters came to an agreement: if they were to survive, something would have to be done to stop these wars. Only through peace could their world survive.

"We cannot speak the human language," they declared, "and mankind can no longer understand ours. We must find among us a symbol of peace so brilliant that all who see it will stop and remember that peace and sharing is beautiful."

"I am what you need," said a golden sunflower. "I am tall and bright. My leaves are food for the animals, my yellow petals can turn plain cloth to gold, my seeds are many and are used for food by all living beings. Yet, the seeds I drop upon the ground can take root and I will grow

All nature rejoiced, and it was decided that the birds would each take one sunflower seed and that they would fly over every nation and plant the seed in the earth as a gift. The seeds took root and grew, and the sunflowers multiplied.

Wherever the sunflowers grew, there seemed to be a special golden glow in the air. The people could not ignore such a magical sight.

Soon they began to understand the message of the sunflowers so they decided to destroy all of their terrible weapons and to put an end to the greed and to the fear of war. They chose the sunflower as a symbol of peace and new life for all the world to recognize and understand.

A ceremony was celebrated by planting a whole field of sunflowers. Artists painted pictures of the sunflowers, writers wrote about them, and the people of the world were asked to plant more sunflowers seeds as a symbol of remembrance.

All nature rejoiced once more as the golden sunflowers stood tall with their faces turned eastward to the rising sun, then following the sun until the setting in the west.

They gave their goodness to the world so that everyone who sees a sunflower will know that the golden light of peace is beautiful.

Sunflowers have become the symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. After Ukraine gave up its last nuclear warhead, the Defense Ministers of the US, Russia and Ukraine met on a former Ukrainian missile base, June 4, 1996. They celebrated by scattering sunflower seeds and planting sunflowers. Former US Secretary of Defense William Perry said, "Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil will ensure peace for future generations."