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.
Our educators are supported by regular full-time float staff, as well as an Atelierista (Artist-in-Residence) and a Pedagogista (Educational Director), which helps to scaffold the child’s learning. We go beyond Ministry of Education requirements, and exceed the child to educator ratio.
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?”.
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.”
Indira Fajardo - Director of Atelier Kids
Indira Fajardo is the Director of Atelier Kids. Originally from Venezuela, she moved to Canada eleven years ago and is currently completing her Bachelor’s Degree from York University in Children’s Studies. Indira is fluent in English, Spanish and French and holds an Honours Degree from Seneca College in Early Childhood Education. Throughout her life, she has dedicated her time to the care of children and has enjoyed every minute of it. With over eight years of experience in childcare, beginning as an Infant, Toddler and Preschool Teacher, Indira believes that every child is unique and, with the right education, can reach their maximum potential. She feels fortunate to be a part of Atelier Kids, where, as the Director, she will work alongside a group of highly qualified professionals, each with an incredible passion for each individual child as they begin their education both academically, socially, and emotionally.
Indira’s passion for children, the family and its evolution in society have made her specialize in the early education of children. From an early age, Indira has felt an immense affection for children; this led her to establish an after school program in Venezuela. There she was able to identify learning problems and use different methods to help first grade children learn to read. At the same time, Indira established strong links with the community and the caregivers. These ties were a great help for the development and improvement of children’s abilities. This experience made Indira realize that through her work, she could help in the education and development of many children and improve family relationships. From there, her passion and her desire to collaborate and contribute to the education and development of children and families began.
Indira has lived in different countries such as Venezuela, Panama and Canada and in each of them she has dedicated herself to establishing connections with children and their families to help them in their education and development. Combining her two passions, traveling and children, Indira has visited Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Japan, Spain, China, Thailand, London, Italy and France to observe different communities and methods of education and child rearing. In Jamaica, she participated as a volunteer for the organization of Students Crossing Borders. There she worked with young children diagnosed with AIDS in an orphanage. Indira developed and implemented study programs and activities to promote their emotional, physical and mental development. After some time working with the children and their educators, she understood her great mission. This wonderful opportunity inspired Indira to continue traveling and observing different methods of education and raising children in the countries mentioned above.
Taking into account a global vision of education and the upbringing of children, Indira recognizes children as autonomous agents and citizens who need love and understanding to develop to their full potential. Indira calls herself a citizen of the world whose mission is to collaborate and work hand in hand with families and their children for the learning process to be pleasant and productive.
Joan C. Bowman - Atelierista - Artist in Residence
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.
Alison Randall - Pedagogista - Educational Leader
Alison Randall is a passionate learner of languages, arts, cultures, and philosophies whose experiences have led her to become a child-centered educator with a worldview. She has made High Park her home after the recent joys of living in Belgium, the Czech Republic and Dubai, UAE while raising her family of four along with her husband in their travels. While living abroad, Alison learned further about both Reggio and other early childhood pedagogies (Montessori, Creative Arts and Languages Curriculum, IB) which make her role as Pedagogista at Atelier Kids such a perfectly unique relationship for continued growth together.