Waldorf preschool holds grand opening
Welcomes first students next week
Discovery Lane, a Waldorf preschool serving students ages 2 1/2 to 5 with a student-driven education focus, will open its doors to its first class next week, according to co-owner Shante Lane.
“We’re really happy to be opening, finally,” Lane said. “Our families are really excited too.”
The school held its grand opening Monday, inviting parents and community members to tour the school facilities and learn more about the Reggio Emilia style of education.
The Reggio Emilia style of early childhood education, named after the city in Italy where it originated, was developed by Italian educator Loris Malaguzzi following World War II. It focuses on children as the initiators of learning and develops the various ways in which children learn to express themselves, according to the Reggio Children-Loris Malaguzzi Centre Foundation website.
“Children are viewed as an active constructor of knowledge,” Lane said. “Rather than being a target of instruction, students are encouraged to be an active apprentice.”
Shante Lane said her school is the first Reggio Emilia style school in Southern Maryland.
Her mother and co-owner Alice Lane said she learned about the Reggio Emilia style of education after attending a seminar in Pittsburgh with her daughter and fell in love with it.
“I like it because it helps children to be involved in their education, to be involved in their learning,” Alice Lane said.
The school, located on Old Washington Road, was originally sup- posed to open in October 2015, but a number of factors, including the need for additional renovations, delayed the opening, Shante said.
“This building was built in around 1950. So when we started tearing down walls, we discovered there was more work that needed to be done,” Shante said.
Shante said it is her understanding that the building has sat unoccupied for approximately six years.
She said that as work progressed on the building, they decided to wait until well after the holiday season had passed.
“Sometimes transition doesn’t really happen on a holiday, so we started to think about when people might start looking for a new preschool,” Shante said. “It actually turned out well for us, because a lot of people are looking for programs over the summertime.”
The school houses three classrooms, for 2.5-year-olds, for 3-year- olds, and for 4-to-5-year-olds, along with an outdoor play and exploration area and a kitchenette.
“We have a natural play area,” she said. “I really want it to be an oasis for the students.”
Shante said the all-organic meals will be catered and healthy snacks will also be provided.
“We have a nutritionist that we work with, he’s based in Maryland and works with schools in D.C. and the surrounding area,” she said. “Because young children are notoriously picky, we want to introduce new foods in a way that is fun. So students will have an opportunity to manipulate their food and help prepare the food themselves.”
The school has a maximum of 20 students for each grade level, Shante said.
Shante has a master’s degree in special education and has worked as a teacher and administrator in Washington, D.C.’s public charter school system. Her mother has 23 years experience operating a preschool in Newark, Del.
“I have a background in education, and my mother has left her business in Delaware to help make this possible,” Shante said.
Shante said it has been an interesting experience operating a business with her mother for the first time.
“I think that there are definitely things that you want to establish when working with a family member, and so we have a great team on board,” she said. “Hopefully this will be a family business we can pass down to my children and so forth.”
Alice said she is looking forward to the school’s opening.
“Discovery Lane is going to be a beautiful preschool that is going to be a great asset to the community, to Waldorf and to Charles County,” she said.