A Note From Noah

Later today, two of our educators are boarding a flight and heading to the town of Reggio Emilia, Italy, for a week-long international conference on the Reggio approach to early childhood conference. Our school has a long history with the Reggio approach, something that we have always referred to this as a “journey” – we are never settled with our style of education but rather challenge and critique ourselves each year, always striving for growth in our effort to provide the highest quality environment for our community and our children.

Sarah Loeser, associate teacher in classroom 5, and Sari Lipschitz, school atelierista, will be touring the nursery schools and related institutions in Reggio that have inspired schools and communities around the world for the last thirty years and more.  The Reggio approach is one in which the child-as-citizen’s voice is listened to deeply, and the school community is sculpted around what we hear the children saying and thinking. Carla Rinaldi has referred to this as “the pedagogy of listening” – the more we listen to children, they more they teach us and themselves. The Reggio approach is one of deeply ingrained democratic values, where communities are constructed through meaningful relationships of all involved parties. Teachers, children, and parents come together to create the world they want.  Rinaldi refers to this as the capability of classroom to create culture rather than simply transmit culture.

Sari said, “I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and understanding of the Reggio Emilia philosophy. I am deeply interested in the culture and environment of the various schools in Reggio.” Sarah said, “I'm excited to extend my professional journey in learning more about the Reggio philosophy and it's connection to early childhood education. I look forward to seeing how the Italian culture and environment influences the learning of the students in Reggio. I can't believe I leave today!”

Reggio has inspired many of our school’s practices over the years.  Your child’s journey binders (and also here) and our daily reflections are inspired by some of the practices in Reggio, as is our emphasis on process over product, and the role of our atelierista.  Last year our teachers attending several days of learning dedicated to the Reggio approach, and our teachers have also presented at Reggio workshops.  Our school continues to learn from the Reggio approach, and each year we find new challenges and new inspirations. We can’t wait to follow Sarah and Sari’s journey in Italy and learn from and with them upon their return.

In past years, Joyce Portnoy-Eisman, co-head teacher in classroom 4, and Orlee Levin, co-head teacher in classroom 1, have been some of our other teachers who have participated in this conference in Reggio. Joyce had this to say about her experience:

“What impressed me about the preschools in Reggio Emilia was the deep respect shown for both education and young children. This begins with the respect given to all staff members in each school, from the directors to the cooks. They are all treated in a professional and respectful manner, and also all are involved in decision making. I came home inspired and also a bit sad. I truly wish that American culture could invest in our children and our schools in a similar manner....it would be a much more wonderful world!”

And Orlee shared this:

“I was most inspired and impressed by the strong image of parent, child, school and community that the town of Reggio Emilia embraces and embodies. They refer to children with special needs as having special rights, the parents are engaged in creating materials and supplies for the classrooms, schools are revered and the entire community supports early childhood education. The experience changed my, and our school’s, practice in how we form a supportive community for all members of our classes and school, parents children and teachers alike.”

While Sarah and Sari are in Italy, you and your child can track their journey on the bulletin board in the Common Space. We will be updating the board daily, adding photographs and tracking their location in the town of Reggio.  OnWednesday, April 20th, at 9:00am (EST) we will be attempting to Skype with Sarah and Sari in the Common Space.  If you are able to hang out for a few minutes after drop off, please stick around to say hi to our teachers in Italy!

Viaggio sicuro,