Wal­dorf preschool holds grand open­ing

Wel­comes first stu­dents next week

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

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.

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