Recently, we had a chance a chance to speak with the Co-Founders of Pine Village Spanish Immersion Preschools, Brid Martin and Emma LaVecchia. Founded in 2001, Pine Village is a Spanish Immersion Preschool, with 8 locations. Brid and Emma have decades of experience in early-childhood education and shared with us some of the keys to their success.
How long have you been involved in running or teaching in preschools?
Emma: 13 years. Before that we both had a long history in early childhood education
Brid: We both have been teachers and directors at different schools before opening Pine Village in 2001. At first, we both taught and directed. Today we no longer teach in the classroom, as we are focused on running Pine Village!
How have Pre-K teaching strategies changed since you started?
Emma: Our philosophy and method have stayed the same, however, we have learned better practices around creating curriculum and more effective ways to engage the kids and to incorporate them into their own learning. We have found that young teachers have an instinct to teach, instead of inspiring their students. We want our teachers to inspire.
Brid: We have refined our strategy down to a couple of pieces:
1. A strong sense of instilling in children who they are
3. Love of learning
4. Love of language and books
5. Having fun!
Our teaching strategies have evolved over time rather than changed.
How do you integrate technology into your classrooms?
Brid: In general, we do not integrate technology into the classroom for use by the students. However, the teachers do use a lot of technology. Its very important to us that our kids have a “hands-on” learning experience.
The one exception is kids on the autism spectrum, we do have them use iPad in certain cases to express themselves.
How do you and your teacher’s use Kaymbu in your classrooms?
Emma: The teachers use Kaymbu to capture various activities the children are engaged in, progress and developmental growth, and social and emotional growth. They also use Kaymbu for documentation purposes.
Brid: Kaymbu is used for parental communication and documentation. Its a great way to keep that school-home connection strong. There is no question it helps parents feel connected to their children’s life.
Emma: Our ed director who manages the curriculum uses it to build training for teachers. She will monitor what is going on in the classroom and that our parental communication is at the level where it should be.
In what ways has Kaymbu made a difference for your students’ parents and their connection to your program?
Brid: You can never over communicate with parents. With Kaymbu, they feel more connected when they are not there, and they love that they can easily share moments with grandparents and with their extended family. It enables them to share their child’s life with their entire community.
We have also found that images with captions that connect it to a learning moment often create the most impact.
How does Kaymbu streamline your documentation process?
Emma: In the Kaymbu platform you can tag certain standards. It enables us to be sure we are meeting curriculum benchmarks. The photos are also used as part of our portfolios for every child’s bi-annual assessment.
Can you share some tips or pieces of advice for other preschool or daycare centers directors out there:
Brid: Every single decision you make, ask yourself, “Does this benefit the children you serve?”
Emma: If you put the children first, you can’t make a bad decision. Every day as a director, you are juggling a lot of responsibilities, never forget it is one big community. When you break everything down, if you put the kids first, you make great decisions.
Brid: Community, community, community! Listen to your teachers, make sure you do that. Create trust and belonging within your community. Set an example for the kids.
What do you enjoy most about running Pine Village the most?
Brid: I love this impact we can have on our children, they are our future. Education is everything, not just academics. When children have a second language and love learning, it is very special.
Emma: The opportunity to do what we are doing. We are at the tip of the iceberg with the language immersion thing. We want to build this concept of bilingualism for children.