January 9, 2023
Guest Writer: Julie Sugg, Director of Ardmore Baptist Preschool
Eight years ago I began my journey as the Director of the Ardmore Baptist Preschool. During my first year, I met an amazing lady named Pat Whisnant who later grew to be a dear friend. I didn’t really know Pat but she asked me if she could send me to a Reggio Conference in Durham. Pat, in her 80s, attended the conference alongside me. Pat had studied the schools of Reggio Emilia, had visited them many times, and was an integral part of bringing the first Reggio Conferences and exhibits to the United States in the 1980s. Pat was a lifelong learner and someone I truly admired. My eyes were opened to a new approach and philosophy of education, the Reggio Emilia approach. Since that conference many years ago, a dream was planted to help transform our program. The Reggio Emilia approach perfectly aligns with our vision and view that values children in the same way Jesus does, full of wonder, capabilities, and possibilities. The environment, an appreciation for God’s amazing creation, and relationships are key aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach. All staff, children, and families are welcome, accepted, and loved much like we are welcomed and given a fresh start each day with Jesus.
A group of five ABP staff attended our first trip to Reggio Emilia, Italy November 3rd-11th. Our study group consisted of the Director, Assistant Director, and three lead teachers. After 26 long hours of travel and only one missed flight, we arrived! Our days were spent meeting with over 100 North American Educators. We were able to build relationships with people from Miami, New York, Georgia, Colorado, Connecticut, and many more places. Our days were spent in sessions led by the Italian staff, pedagogistas, atleristas, and translators. We got to visit schools, see things in action, meet parents, see children, and participate in ateliers. In the evenings, we enjoyed delicious meals and reflected on the day of learning together. It was an amazing opportunity and we left with joy, excitement, and a desire to grow even more! The Reggio approach gives children a voice in how they learn and express themselves. We are so thankful our program values children and helps to implement a love for learning and curiosity that will be with them for a lifetime!
We are already implementing new strategies and are so excited to share them with our staff, children, and families. Our dialogue group will continue to meet regularly to set short-term and long-term goal for our program. We had a wonderful experience and are so grateful we were able to go. We are already looking forward to the next time.