Centner Academy in Miami Design District Celebrates Grand Opening


Modern School for Happiness, Emotional Intelligence and Academics Opened its Doors to the Community for a Sneak Preview with Special Guest and Academy Advisor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, the “Happiness Professor” 


Centner Academy, a progressive new school in Miami Design District, equally committed to happiness and emotional intelligence as it is to academics and leadership, hosted an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony with city dignitaries on August 21, 2019, in celebration of the completion of its new 21st century school. The academy is the first “happiness school” dedicated to emotional intelligence and happiness to open in the United States. Their open house brought together future students, parents, school faculty and city officials for a sneak preview of the 16,000 square-foot, three-story building at 4136 North Miami Avenue, just steps from the Miami Design District.

Special guests in attendance included Alicia Fernandez, Aide to Mayor Suarez for Community Programs; James McQueen, Chief of Staff to Commissioner Keon Hardemon; Cynthia Seymour, District Director for Commissioner Ken Russell; Miami Beach Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman; Jerry Libbin, president and CEO of Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce; and Deanne Connolly Graham, Chair of Women’s Business Council at the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.


Founded by serial technology entrepreneurs and philanthropists David and Leila Centner, the academy will officially open its doors this fall and initially serve a student body between the ages of two and a half and six years old. Next year, the academy will offer first grade and will add additional grade levels every year up to the 12th grade.


At the open house, guests were greeted with organic refreshments as nutrition is one of the school’s key values for its potential to positively influence students’ academic performance and behavior. David and Leila Centner welcomed guests with an introductory speech about the academy and shared their mission of helping shape young people into adults who are not only confident and poised to succeed but who have the character and skills needed to make the world a better, kinder and more loving place.


The welcome speech was followed by a group meditation in an effort to bring everyone into a state of mindfulness. The day’s program also included a special speech from renowned positive psychology professor and senior advisor to Centner Academy, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. Widely known as the “Happiness Professor,” Ben-Shahar is an international best-selling author and a world-renowned expert in the science of happiness. He taught two of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history, “Positive Psychology” and “The Psychology of Leadership.” A distinguished speaker for his lectures on leadership, happiness, education, ethics and innovation, among other topics, Dr. Ben-Shahar’s books have been translated into more than 25 languages and have appeared on best-sellers lists around the world.


To commemorate the occasion, a performer from Confucius Institute at Miami Dade College played a musical piece using an erhu, a traditional Chinese, two-stringed bowed musical instrument, known as the Chinese violin. The performance was followed by a song in Mandarin, sung by one of Centner Academy’s Mandarin teachers.


The open house concluded with a VIP ribbon cutting ceremony with city officials at the entrance of the school, followed by a champagne toast with all guests in attendance.


Drawing on the latest research in the field of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and the science of happiness, the Centners seek to help children flourish cognitively, emotionally and interpersonally through their “happiness school.”


“Our philosophy is based on the understanding that success does not lead to happiness, but rather that happiness leads to success,” explains Leila Centner, founder and CEO of Centner Academy.  “Our goal is to transform the heart of education to ensure happy, confident, compassionate, mindful, empathetic and connected children, so we are building a 21st century school designed as a living, breathing response to new personal and social challenges.”


In addition, students at the academy will be on the road to being fully prepared for life in a multinational global economy through daily immersion in Mandarin.


For more information on Centner Academy, please visit www.centneracademy.com.


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