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Lark Street

Located at 255 Lark Street in Albany New York the Center Square School is a small creative workshop/school that seeks to inspire children through play and discovery.  The classroom hosts weekly workshops for children, a summer camp program and a half-day preschool program.

Our Philosophy

Every child is strong, capable, independent, curious, and full of imagination.  A quality early education program will empower children to think, question, investigate, explore, and help navigate the journey of learning.  As a teacher, my mission is to develop and nurture a child’s love of learning and sense of social and personal responsibility thorough a curriculum designed to develop the intellectual, spiritual, physical, artistic and academic excellence inherent in each child

All students have the right to learn the basic skills required for excellence in kindergarten: early literacy, mathematical concepts, and fine motor skills.  Mastering these essential skills does not have to involve traditional worksheets or drills. Rather they can be seamlessly integrated into a play and project based curriculum that encourages critical thinking and enthusiasm for knowledge.  Children meet the expectations of their parents and teachers, and in a loving and supportive environment I seek to inspire students to be confident in their own abilities with high expectations tailored to each child in my class. Collaboration between parents and a teacher creates a seamless learning experience in a child’s life. This collaboration is vital to the successful mastery of the above skills.

Anything and everything is considered worthy of study, as long as the children are curious about it.  Children gain meaningful experience asking questions and hunting for answers when involved in subjects that they care about.  Lessons and projects are inspired by the interests of the children as they make themselves visible through a school year.  I consider early education to be an adventure.  Projects may last one week or could continue throughout the school year.  Children learn to trust themselves, as their curiosity is met with enthusiasm by their parents and teachers.

I aim to organize a classroom environment that is functional and stimulating, sensitive and risk-free, culturally rich and attractive so as to set a foundation for all students to become successful and enthusiastic learners.  A learning environment in early childhood also serves as an educator.  The environment should be a reflection of the children, teachers, and parents who live and learn there.  It should be thoughtful, imaginative, enticing, and respect the image of the child.

Reggio Emilia

The city Reggio Emilia in Italy is recognized worldwide for its innovative approach to education. Its signature educational philosophy has become known as the Reggio Emilia Approach, one which many preschool programs around the world have adopted. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:

  • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
  • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing;
  • Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore and
  • Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.

The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching young children puts the natural development of children as well as the close relationships that they share with their environment at the center of its philosophy. The foundation of the Reggio Emilia approach lies in its unique view of the child. In this approach, there is a belief that children have rights and should be given opportunities to develop their potential.  The child is also viewed as being an active constructor of knowledge. Rather than being seen as the target of instruction, children are seen as having the active role of an apprentice.   This role also extends to that of a researcher. Much of the instruction at Reggio Emilia schools takes place in the form of projects where they have opportunities to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding. Children are also viewed as social beings and a focus is made on the child in relation to other children, the family, the teachers, and the community rather than on each child in isolation.

The role of teachers:

In the Reggio approach, the teacher is considered a co-learner and collaborator with the child and not just an instructor. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate the child’s learning by planning activities and lessons based on the child’s interests, asking questions to further understanding, and actively engaging in the activities alongside the child, instead of sitting back and observing the child learning.

The environment as a third teacher:

The organization of the physical environment is crucial to Reggio Emilia’s early childhood program, and is often referred to as the child’s “third teacher”. Major aims in the planning of new spaces and the remodeling of old ones include the integration of each classroom with the rest of the school, and the school with the surrounding community. The importance of the environment lies in the belief that children can best create meaning and make sense of their world through environments which support “complex, varied, sustained, and changing relationships between people, the world of experience, ideas and the many ways of expressing ideas.”

Long-term projects as vehicles for learning

The curriculum is characterized by many features advocated by contemporary research on young children, including real-life problem-solving among peers, with numerous opportunities for creative thinking and exploration. Teachers often work on projects with small groups of children, while the rest of the class engages in a wide variety of self-selected activities typical of preschool classrooms.

Learn more at www.reggioalliance.org

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Blair Lambert

I am a preschool teacher and working artist living in Center Square, Albany. I have taught both the very young and very old and most everyone in between. I’ve spent the majority of my career in New York City. There I worked as a teacher in family lifestyle clubs, public libraries and arts summer camps. I served as a museum educator at The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum but left this position in order to pursue my true love: early childhood education. I became the founding teacher of a preschool cooperative school in Brooklyn, NY.

After attending graduate school at The Pratt Institute where I studied Art and Design Education, I moved with my husband to Albany, NY. Now that am here, I hope to continue my work guiding students through creative and educational experiences.

Erin McDonough

Erin studied communications at Hudson Valley Community College and the College of Saint Rose. She produced a public access TV show “Culture TV”, highlighting the arts in the capital district. Erin has consistently been working with children since she was a teenager. In addition to work she has also volunteered at the Clifton Park library running a children’s reading program. Erin enjoys playing piano, reading, travelling and has a special affection for U.S. History.