Sawyer partners with hundreds of educators who are stars in their communities. From inspiring class content to engaging teaching style, these educators are known for their enriching activities that empower both children and parents alike.
We got the opportunity to chat with Luciana Toyos Gambarino, the founder of Casa Lu Art Space, which offers enriching art, cooking, and Spanish after school activities and camps to children in Brooklyn.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! I’d love to hear a bit more about you and why you started your business.
When my son was young, I struggled to find programs that made sense for him. I was looking for creative and fun but I was also looking for Spanish immersion. That's what really sparked it for me. And I've always been passionate about teaching children as well as cooking and the arts. In a way, Casa Lu made complete sense. It combines all these elements in one space, giving kids a real variety of creative outlets with Spanish content as a backdrop.
Can you describe an inspiring moment you’ve had as an educator?
The pandemic. Even though it was a difficult time for the world, I discovered how important and precious it was to keep small groups of kids or “learning pods.” Children could cook, produce art, and engage with in-person experiences while being safe. I realized how priceless an educator's role is in a kid’s life.
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching children?
I'm giving kids something that's valuable for their lives. It's a diverse community with a different language as its base. I'm giving them skills and experiences that they can then take into the rest of their lives. For example, I teach sewing and I have a kid who has graduated now and every time there is a person born into her family, she makes a quilt for that baby. To me, this is more like a family setting, where ideas and skills (baking, cooking, art and art appreciation) are given as life lessons.
What’s one time a child surprised you and made your day?
Every single day. I had a kid who on his first day asked me 'until when can I come to Casa Lu? Can I come here when I'm in high school, what about college?' I love when I ask them, what is your favorite day of the week, and they reply, 'on the days when I come to Casa Lu.' But it's more than that. I love when a kid comes full of creative energy and connects with the projects and experience.
Why is after school/extracurricular enrichment and camp so crucial for children?
When children are given the space to express their interests, they are more available and connected to their creative source, which allows them to fully engage. They connect immediately with themselves and what’s needed to complete their project. They learn to be more confident in their creative interests. They’re also immersed in an experience with a group of children that is new to them. This opens a portal to make new friends and explore being themselves in a more relaxed environment. Usually in camp, by day two, the groups become best friends.
Children will often come hungry and tired from a long, structured day at school. As soon as we start a class, they see the possibilities and become instantly energized about getting started. Then they just go and make the magic happen!
How do you think children can discover their passions when not in school or your programs?
That's easy. Children are always curious to learn new things and keep exploring their knowledge. They just need to have the space and freedom to find those outlets to keep exploring and growing their passions.
What is your favorite Sawyer feature?
I love Sawyer’s registration system and the navigation to create new camps and semesters. It’s easy to use and keeps me organized. Generally everything.
What's one trick you learned from another educator that you still practice?
How to create a title for a camp or class.
Have you discovered new customers on the Sawyer Marketplace?
Yes. A lot!
How do you balance your time between running your business (from an operational perspective) and teaching/connecting with parents and students?
I usually dedicate significantly to teaching and connecting with parents and students. I send quarterly newsletters to keep them in the loop of what we are doing at Casa Lu. I create events where children can connect, and I get to chat with parents.
How has Sawyer helped your business?
A lot. It helped me understand ways of growing my business and see trends. It also helped me plan for posting summer camps and other activities ahead of time. The Sawyer marketing team enabled me to give me ideas and tips on things I could do to improve my listings.