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Editor’s note: Centner Academy is hiring teachers. If you’re interested, please email your resume and cover letter to careers@centneracademy.com or click here to learn more.

“It’s common sense to allow kids the right to breathe,” Leila Centner told Children’s Health Defense Chairman Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the “RFK Jr. The Defender Podcast.”

Centner, chief executive officer and co-founder of Centner Academy in Miami, Florida, made headlines and drew scorn from critics by encouraging her students — as well as their parents and teachers — not to wear masks or get vaccinated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Centner Academy, which calls itself “America’s happiest school,” encouraged students to focus instead on building their emotional, physical and intellectual health.

It is an amazing place, said Kennedy, who has visited and seen how “engaged” the students are.

He recalled his visit to Centner Academy in January 2021:

“No masks in this school. The kids looked at each other, they looked engaged, they were hugging each other, they were kissing each other. There was just so much kindness.

“It was like going back in time because the rest of the world had gone insane. And this was just like an island of humanity and kindness and common sense and sanity in the middle of this sea of toxic insanity.”

Although the academy lost some students when Centner refused to bow to pressure to require masks and vaccinations, Kennedy said, so many new students have enrolled since then that the school now needs to hire many new teachers.


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It wasn’t easy to stand her ground when she was criticized for speaking out against masks and vaccinations for her students, Centner said, but Kennedy’s mentorship and guidance were very helpful.

“You know what it’s like having to stand your ground,” she told Kennedy.

And Centner’s stance has paid off. “It has been so incredible to see these families who have literally moved across the country to come to our school,” she said.

“I can have any conversation with the families at our school about vaccines, about masks, about mandates — and not have someone look at me like I’m crazy, because we’ve all found each other.”

Watch the full podcast here: