Preschool students work with specialists each week in art, physical education, and vocal and instrumental music. Students also enjoy weekly visits to the library and spend two mornings at Waverly’s one-acre organic farm.
The emphasis in art in preschool is on the process. Children need many opportunities to engage with materials and methods so they can explore their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Children are learning about and experiencing their world from many different perspectives and abilities, and their art reflects this. At this stage, children explore the art material by physically manipulating and experiencing its sensory properties. Children have the opportunity to talk about their art making as they work. Over time, children develop their own voice through their art and their creative vocabulary, allowing them to feel successful in communicating through symbolic language.
Michelle teaches art for preschool through 4th grade. Michelle has a B.A. in art from San Francisco State University and an M.A. in art education from California State University, Los Angeles. A working artist and printmaker, Michelle always knew she wanted to teach art. To support her students, she says, “I try to meet children where they are and listen to their ideas and what they are interested in exploring and expressing.” Michelle has two daughters; her daughter Nadine is enrolled in the 8th grade at Waverly.
Children love to move their bodies, and the curriculum at Waverly allows for movement of various sorts throughout the day. Twice a week, preschool children enjoy time with our physical education specialist, jumping, hopping, skipping, running, stretching, and bending. They learn how to follow verbal and nonverbal cues, practice spatial awareness, and develop hand-eye and eye-foot coordination. Children enjoy full use of the playground space to experiment with equipment, such as hula hoops, bean bags, tricycles, jump ropes, and balls. An important part of preschool physical education is learning how to play outdoor games with others.
Preschool students are introduced to the keyboard, xylophone, autoharp, recorder, and drums. The emphasis is on children finding joy in creating music while learning to play songs and singing. Children explore musical exercises and play hand-eye coordination games.
Josie teaches instrumental and vocal music at the elementary school. After studying languages at El Camino College, Josie sang professionally for 10 years. She has been a vocal music teacher at Waverly with her husband, Michael, since 1996. Josie chose to become an educator because, as she explains, “I love teaching and always have. I was a lead singer in a band for years and had played guitar since my school days. I decided to combine both of my passions. I developed a music program that teaches children that they can learn to make music easily and immediately.” Josie is the proud mother of three children who all attended Waverly. Michelle and Dan, class of 2016, are college students and Allie is a music teacher.
The preschoolers visit the school library weekly for a half-hour to listen to stories and check out books. Each visit begins with a participatory storytime that uses props and puppets and that emphasizes listening, visual, and early literacy skills. The librarian curates a variety of books, including picture books, age appropriate nonfiction, and some early-reader chapter books, for each weekly visit. The children can enjoy these books with their teachers, the librarian, and each other. Parents are always welcome, too.
Tina is the elementary school librarian and teaches library skills for preschool through 6th grade. She joined Waverly in 2014 after working for nearly 15 years as a children’s librarian at Altadena Public Library and a branch librarian at Pasadena Public Library. Tina majored in English and journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-produced a nationally syndicated public affairs program for Pacifica Radio prior to her library work. The most gratifying part of Tina’s job is seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when they find a book they’ve been looking forward to reading. She says,“The smiles of surprise…and the eagerness to open that book the moment it’s in their hands make all my efforts worth it.” Tina lives in Altadena with her husband, Bob, and daughter, Johanna, who graduated from Waverly in 2017.
The Waverly organic farm, located within walking distance from the school, is a one-acre multi-purpose green space for students, teachers, and families. During their weekly visits to the farm, the preschoolers participate in ongoing imaginative play that they continue to build upon throughout the year. They have opportunities to use tools, climb trees, dig, and build. They use problem solving skills to figure out how to move items around the farm, how to transport water using pvc pipes and by digging channels for the water to flow. They learn how to make shelter from the rain and have opportunities for mud play. The preschoolers delight in investigating how things grow, harvesting produce, observing and caring for the chickens, discovering insects, cooking in the student built pizza oven, and observing the changes of the climate and seasons.
Barbara has managed the farm for more than a decade, first as a volunteer. Barbara loves to collaborate with her colleagues to create farm curriculum that is meaningful to each class and relates to the social studies theme when possible. In the short-term, Barbara wants “our children to spend a little time connecting with the natural world and the seasons.” In the long-term, her goal “is that they remember the idea that you can grow your own food, and that it tastes better, looks better, smells better, and it’s fun, too!” Barbara has two children at Waverly, Joe and Katie, both in 12th grade.
At Waverly, wellness is an age-appropriate, positive approach that emphasizes the whole person, with a focus on students’ physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development. Respect for one’s self and others, community building, healthy relationships, sexuality, concepts of diversity, equity, and tolerance, gender expression/identity are taught in depth. Preschool students learn basic anatomy and physiology and explore concepts of consent.
Caitlin teaches wellness. Caitlin received a B.A. in English from Harvard College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. A lifelong learner, Caitlin completed a post-baccalaureate premedical program before her work as an educator with Planned Parenthood inspired her to forgo medical school and return to her first love: teaching. Caitlin has been an educator for over a decade. She is an avid yogi, published poet, and an advisor for Change The Talk, a peer-to-peer social justice workshop. She incorporates themes of tolerance, mindfulness, and empowerment into her lessons for all ages. Caitlin’s daughter, Ramona, is in kindergarten.