Our Team

Our Squad

Exceptional qualities

Our team of educators are chosen from among the best and brightest R.ECE and ECA accredited practitioners.  They share the same qualities that we strive to encourage in our students. They are sensitive, imaginative, curious, great listeners, supportive, open-minded and creative problem-solvers. They don’t give children the answers but rather guide them to find the answers themselves.

Happy Baby Playing With Toy Blocks
Mother and Her Son in Nature
Children Playing With Animal Toys
Little Boy Playing With Magnifier in Atelier Kids Childcare Centre

The role of our educators

Our practitioners plan starting points for the children to explore and provide open-ended resources for their journey of exploration. They listen, observe and facilitate your child’s learning. They are there to help the children move from simple to complex ideas and to slow down the process so that the little moments can be captured. Children are allowed to make mistakes and are encouraged to try different solutions to problems.

We believe relationships and consistency are important. That is why we have set up most of our classrooms in a Multi-Age Grouping arrangement, which removes the stress of multiple transitions experienced when children move too frequently between programs.

Our educators are lifelong learners

Ongoing learning is fundamental to providing quality childcare. We nurture this quality by building in design time weekly to collaborate with peers and to write up observations. We also give our educators the time for formal professional development—just like our children, we too need to keep learning.

Joshua and His Ball

Imagine you’re in the backyard with your son. He loses his ball under the deck. What do you do? As adults, we often rush to solve his problem.

The Reggio-inspired way

OBSERVATION: Our Educator stands back and observes, recognizing this as a teachable moment. Rather than solving Joshua’s problem, she deliberately allows him time and space to solve his own problem.  She takes a few photos, makes some notes and asks open ended questions to help guide Joshua to a solution.

PROBLEM-SOLVING: Left to his own devices, Joshua tries to retrieve his ball first by reaching under the deck with his arm. It is too short. Then he uses a stick to try to reach his ball. Again it is too short. Next, he decides to engage his friends and together they devise a way to retrieve the ball with a wire.

DOCUMENTATION & ONGOING LEARNING: Joshua’s teacher documents this learning by displaying the photographs in the classroom at eye level so Joshua and his friends can be reminded of the challenge and their success. This is consistent with the pedagogy supported by the Ministry of Education’s “How Does Learning Happen?”.

Boy Catching ball

Our Leadership

Bernadette Testani - Head of School

Bernadette Testani - Head of School

Bernadette Testani is an innovator and entrepreneur who calls Bloor West Village her home. It’s here that she and her husband raise their family and where, ten years ago, she founded Green Apple Kids & Windermere Kids; two award winning daycares providing quality care and education. Theme-based daycare was not enough for her as she embarked on a journey to deepen her study of childcare, children, and the advancements in early learning and educational approaches, because she knew there was more to offer.  Ms. Testani developed a strong connection with the Reggio philosophy and it has become markedly influential in these next steps of her career.

In directing her passion and experience toward the opening of Atelier Kids Early Learning & Care, she’s pioneering the development of the first Reggio-inspired child care centre in the west end and is firm in her commitment to share her dedication to the philosophy by developing additional Reggio-inspired centres in Ontario.

Her leadership skills and drive for excellence are what helped her recognize the need for professional, service-centred childcare in Bloor West. As she began a family of her own, her standards and expectations of childcare were not met with the options she was presented.  As a professional executive herself, her goal to address the childcare situation for Toronto’s families was heightened.

As one of Canada’s experts in early childhood learning, Ms. Testani honed her skills working several decades in executive recruitment, organizing the placement of  some of Canada’s leading executives in their corporate roles. Seeing the potential and abilities of corporate executives and fostering the professional advancement they imagined, was a natural bridge when Ms. Testani transitioned to childcare.  She was building environments for children where they, too, could embark on the journey of learning, growth and development as the inherently capable, confident, and curious young minds that she viewed them as being.

Ms. Testani has studied the Reggio approach both locally and abroad with respected and highly experienced educators and has immersed herself in the Reggio community of North America. Her dedication to the development of Atelier Kids Early Learning and Care is an obvious reflection of the care and concern she demonstrates with the children and their families of the Atelier Kids community she is building. 

“Atelier Kids is for parents who believe that children need to be viewed as capable, confident and curious, in order to be fully engaged as young learners,” she says. “Reggio is really a 2.0 way of looking at how we nurture and stoke young minds and imaginations, helping them become life-long learners. I’m confident that our parents are ready for this type of growth and change, too.” 

Joan C. Bowman - Atelierista

Joan C. Bowman - Atelierista

Joan is a Toronto-based artist, graphic designer, and entrepreneur. Her family of four calls the Beach neighbourhood ”home”, but Toronto Island is a close second. It is here that she was introduced to the Reggio philosophy as her children attend school where Reggio-inspired learning and an emphasis on outdoor education is prevalent. Immediately intrigued and captivated by Reggio-inspired learning, Joan began researching and studying it both locally and abroad, visiting its namesake community in Italy this past spring.

Her love for the arts earned her a scholarship to University where she completed a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Art. This intense art and design program focused on mastering problem-solving philosophies, the theoretical approach to art and design and its practical applications, as developed and taught by the faculty and esteemed alumnae of the historically recognized Cranbrook Academy of Art.

After graduating with academic honours she was introduced to the television industry where she spent 15 years and garnered 3 Emmy Awards and 15 Emmy Nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Excellence in Graphic Design, Set Design, and Art Direction.

Inspired by a Guggenheim project, Joan developed her entrepreneurial venture of  SquidMonkey Fine Art & Design School for Children. Her focus was building an informed foundation and keen awareness of fine art within children; to first understand and appreciate the art and artist motivations throughout history and consequently discover the beauty of artistic exploration.  The demonstrated joy and confidence that grew amongst the young learners was beauty to behold, within itself!

Currently the owner of her own boutique design firm in Toronto, jcBowmanDESIGN,  Joan develops marketing and design solutions with a specialized focus on the arts and dance communities of Toronto.  Even her large corporate clients know she brings a personalized attention to detail, a passion for the art of design, and a caring and compassionate communication style, regardless of the enormity of a project. In addition, she pursues her passion of seeing life’s, “little moments of beauty” through her greeting card line, honeylamb: a designer line of correspondence as she hopes that, even in our digital world, people will begin handwriting more notes to each other.

Joan is extremely excited to work with Atelier Kids as the Atelierista/Artist-in-Residence and looks forward to meeting you and your child as we work together to explore the path of learning and discovery together through the arts.