History of L'Atelier
Our story makes us unique
A Reggio Emilia inspired preschool and a center for creative research and professional development.
L?Atelier School was born from the concept that lies in the word atelier, a workshop where experiences with materials and medium are developed in a creative way. Since an early age, Simonetta, the founder of L'Atelier grew up surrounded by ateliers as an inspiration from her mother who is an artist. This supported her vision of developing an ?attitude towards learning? where each person develops his and her own way of expression. In this way fields of knowledge connect intimately with languages of expression and children would encounter not only materials but experience aspects of life at their own respected rhythm. Research and self-expression were concepts always present.
L?Atelier opened its doors in May of 1995 to children 18 months to 6 years old. During the first years, we observed children entering in contact with materials and different media, they expressed natural curiosity and the desire to explore the environment around them. This exploration engaged them in creations of theories about how things work.
During the summer of 1996 we had the first encounter with the schools of Reggio Emilia, a town in Northern Italy. The Reggio Emilia municipal schools have been recognized among the best in the world.
During this first meeting at the school Diana in Reggio Emilia with Carla Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children and Sergio Spaggiari ( director of Reggio Emilia schools) we shared our experiences and the vision of the art workshop. We realized that we had similar approaches to early education all based on respect for children and a strong image of the child. This encounter provoked the evolution of L'Atelier to a formal preschool inspired by the original and innovative work of the Reggio Emilia schools. The families involved in the school were strongly connected to this change through their participation and enthusiasm.
Since the beginning we believed in the importance of investing in professional development and organized visits to American and Italian centers as well as we attended several conferences inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. The different interpretations and contexts supported our learning. We became part of a community of dedicated people all engaged in quality early childhood education.
In 1997 we built our first Campus in South Miami with two classrooms (the Nido, and the 3's,4's & 5's), a Plaza, an Atelier, a Water lab, a Kitchen and an office. The enthusiasm and support of the families enrolled at the school and the growing demand of children waiting to be part of it made us decide to expand our facilities. In 1999 we added another classroom, a dark room, a faculty professional development room and we enlarged the kitchen.
Since year 2000 L'Atelier developed a strong collaboration with the educators from Reggio Emilia, Italy. Amelia Gambetti is our consultant and visits the school once or twice a year. The ongoing dialogue with educators from North America has supported our learning and evolution.
In 2002 we were one of the twelve founding members of the North America Reggio Alliance (?NAREA?). The mission of NAREA is to build a diverse community of advocates and educators to promote and defend the rights of children, families, and educators of all cultures through a collaboration of colleagues inspired by the philosophies and experiences of the 0-6 education project of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Simonetta has been a board member for the past 10 years.
In 2004 we opened a classroom for infants with the intention to offer the youngest citizen the best quality of life away from home. Interacting with infants and learning from them brought a strong evolution to our evolution.
In 2005 we founded the Florida Reggio Collaborative for the Rights of Children with the intention to develop awareness in the community and disseminate the power of the child, elevating its image in the society. We hosted for the entire 2005 year the exhibit ?The one Hundred Languages of Children? from Reggio Emilia, Italy. This travelling exhibit has been telling the story of the Reggio experience worldwide to thousands of visitors for over 25 years. During this time, Reggio infant-toddler centers and preschools, together with elementary schools, have continued to enrich their journey and explore more deeply with further research. The presence of the exhibit in Miami created a strong interest in the community as new schools were born with the desire to enter in dialogue with Reggio Emilia. L?Atelier strongly maintains its collaboration with these new schools in order to offer possibilities of dialogue and exchange.
We continue to be in very close contact with Reggio Children and the educators in Reggio Emilia. Our educators have visited Reggio Emilia on more than 20 occasions and are frequently invited to present their experiences in conferences in the United States and abroad. The faculty of L?Atelier has developed over 60 years in cumulative experiences in offering children and families a unique L?Atelier experience through a Reggio Emilia inspired education.
L?Atelier is always in evolution. The renewed identity of the school maintains its roots and launches itself to the next step.
In 2011 L?Atelier evolved to be a big atelier where all areas of the school offer many possibilities to all children. The school has renewed its environments investing in a light atelier where the concepts of light, shadows, reflections are provoking new experiences. In 2012 we completed the contruction of a new atelier and a sound recording studio. In the studio children and adults interact with different instruments and objects. Sound is everywhere and lives in every object! The connection between all areas of the school support and enhance learning in an innovative, creative and fulfilling way.
In addition to its preschool, L?Atelier is a center for creative research and professional development where the daily experiences with children and families, the presence, action and vision of a multicultural faculty, the provocation and visibility of artists and pedagogues create bridges among cultures, communities, people and elevate a sense of humanity in and for all.