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 - President

Bernadette Testani - President

Bernadette Testani is a passionate childcare advocate and successful entrepreneur with success in many industries including childcare, recruitment and professional services. She is a dedicated leader with a solid background in growing teams.

Through her non-profit community work, she became involved on the board of the local daycare as Treasurer. Her passion for improving things led to her running the childcare centre and ultimately opening up her own centre. Ten years ago, she successfully co-founded Green Apple Kids and Windermere Kids in West Toronto.  She grew the company to a 200-family, 50-employee strong organization.  She is also an active member on the Foundation Board for St. Joe’s Hospital and the Toronto West Halloween Fest. 

Earlier this year, she sold her interest in Green Apple Kids and Windermere Kids in order to embark on her new venture – Atelier Kids. Bernadette founded Atelier Kids in order to create a new paradigm for childcare education in Toronto — one that is Reggio-inspired and focuses on the image of the child.  Our Bloor West Village/High Park daycare centre location is slated to open in spring 2018.


Rosalba Bortolotti - Pedagogista

Rosalba Bortolotti - Pedagogista

Rosalba Bortolotti is an enthusiastic early learning educational consultant with over 23 years of experience working with children, their families, and colleagues. She has an R.ECE & BA from York University.

As an early learning educator, consultant, and previous owner of The Acorn School (A Reggio Emilia inspired school), Rosalba brings vast experience when working with various organizations, committees, schools, and early learning centres throughout the province, Canada, and internationally.  She works with the teachers, families, and other educators to support how learning happens, professional development, school wide parent partnership, and research development. Rosalba continues to be the owner and pedagogical consultant for Acorn Collaborative, a business that has been operating since 2005.

Rosalba continues to visit the schools of Reggio Emilia which provide her with a deeper pedagogical understanding and inspiration for her consulting and workshop sessions. She has also worked as a lead teacher in the Seneca Lab School and part time professor in the School of Early Childhood Education at Seneca College.

Areas of expertise include: Child development & Image of the Child, Pedagogical Documentation, Creativity and Art in learning spaces , Organizing classroom spaces, Sustainable education, Food education/Farm to Table, Outdoor early learning education and the learning environment, transformation and the third educator.

Rosalba loves bringing families together through knowledge building and experiences in farm to table foods, cooking together family style, slow living, slow food, sustainability in education, and everyday practices with children and nature. She is involved with different organizations including Slow Food Canada and an Ambassador for Food Revolution.

Joan C. Bowman - Atelierista

Joan C. Bowman - Atelierista

Joan C. Bowman is a Toronto-based Graphic Designer whose interest in art and design began when, as a child, she would transcribe her storybooks onto the pages of grid paper she would find at her father’s drafting table.

Her love of painting, drawing, and the exploration of art techniques earned her a scholarship to Eastern Michigan University where she earned 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. 

Joan graduated University with academic honours and was quickly introduced to the frenetic world of television production.  She stayed in the industry for 15 years, 2 cities, and 3 title changes garnering 3 Emmy Awards and 15 nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

A shift from television allowed Joan to work in the field of interior design as an Art and Accessories Buyer and while raising two young children, developed SquidMonkey Fine Art & Design School for Children to help build an informed foundation and keen awareness of fine art; to first understand and appreciate the works and artist motivations throughout history prior to their act of hands-on creation of projects.

Joan is currently the owner of her own boutique design firm, jcBowmanDESIGN where she develops marketing and design solutions for small business and corporate clients and pursues her passion of seeing life’s “little moments of beauty” through her greeting card line, honeylamb: a designer line of correspondence.

Joan was introduced to a Reggio-inspired education when her youngest child started JK and she’s been intrigued and captivated by the philosophy ever since.  Joan is extremely excited to work with Atelier Kids as the Atelierista and looks forward to meeting you and your child as we work together to explore the path of learning and discovery together.