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.