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 Dakan 19 20

Michelle Dakan

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 9th grade at Waverly. (Email)


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 Ayers 19 20

Barbara Ayers

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’s two chil­dren, Joe and Katie, are Waverly grad­u­ates of the class of 2020. (Email)


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 Stone 19 20

Tina Stone

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. (Email)


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. 

Bio Specialist Josie Olson

Josie Olson

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. (Email)

Phys­i­cal Education

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. 


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.