The below post was written by CLC’s Founding Director, Tony Brown.
This week Cornerstone’s first grade lead teacher, Elizabeth Fravel, is attending and presenting at the Association for Childhood Education International’s (ACEI) Global Summit on Childhood. The conference is being held in Van-couver, British Columbia, and we are delighted that ACEI accepted Elizabeth’s proposal for the conference. Her talk focuses on Cornerstone as a model school for developmentally appropriate practices in our early childhood pro-gram and throughout the school.
Receiving this sort of international recognition is exciting and a great honor, and it is also a re-minder of how important it is for us to celebrate the qualities that distinguish our early childhood program. Cornerstone’s curriculum, daily routines, service learning component, teacher’s role, the classroom environment, and values are built on a commitment to respecting and nurturing the integrity of the whole child. Every “whole child” brings his or her own unique social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual strengths, needs, and preferences.
Cornerstone’s focus on the whole child and use of developmen-tally appropriate practices came to us naturally from a gifted group of early childhood teachers who opened the school four-teen years ago. In that first year Cornerstone taught two-year olds through first graders. That first year as a preschool anchored the school’s philosophy and teaching practice. Preparing the whole child to be a lifelong learner was the goal of every classroom and it continues to be. Klea Scharberg describes the “basics of that approach”:
Preparing learners to be creative, critically minded, and compassionate is our moral imperative. In this era of school reform, turn around, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. These aren’t the typical basics—reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. Rather, these are the “real basics” of learning: developing a sense of belonging, instilling a sense of purpose, and expanding each child’s potential for what the future may hold.
Cornerstone’s preschool for three and four year old children continues to prepare learners for a lifetime of growth and discovery. With a play-based curriculum that encourages creativity and collaboration, our lead preschool teachers, Jessica Spurlock and Patty Backes, facilitate learning experiences that go well beyond the typical basics. While these rich experiential opportunities help students develop cognitively, they are also learning techniques for conflict resolution and self-regulation; connecting concepts through music, movement, and art; and engaging in their first service learning project by singing with their Grandfriends at the Alzheimer’s Project.
Next year, we will expand our program for three year olds by offering an option of attending three half days per week. Please help us get the word out about our new offering and about the won-derful three and four year old program that continues to launch our life-long learners and reminds us of the importance of teaching the whole child.