Our team of educators are chosen from among the best and brightest R.ECE and ECA accredited practitioners who work hard to create an ideal learning environment for your child. They are sensitive, imaginative, curious, great listeners, supportive, open-minded and creative problem-solvers. Our educators’ experience in early learning, coupled with their commitment to our families, has helped to build our amazing culture.
We often exceed the Ministry of Education requirements for educator-child ratios, providing the attention the children need while developing strong social-emotional-learning skills. We achieve this through the support of our in-house Atelierista (Artist-in-Residence) and Pedagogista (Educational Lead), who spend time with our classes and educators to deepen the learning. As well, we have a full-time Director onsite to oversee all facets of our centre.
This team gets to know your child and helps extend their learning, while providing resources and professional development to the educators. This team effort is a key differentiator within our program.
The role of our educators
We plan starting points for the children to explore and provide open-ended resources for their journey of exploration. We keep your child safe during the day and facilitate your child’s learning. We are there to help the children to slow down the process so that the little moments can be appreciated. Children are encouraged to try different solutions to solve problems, and not simply to settle on one path.
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 the 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 explore different solutions. 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 longer stick.
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.”
Kathleen Clancy - Director
Kathleen is a proven, consummate professional in the early learning and childcare environments. Her incredible ability to effectively multi-task administrative responsibilities, while balancing the role of caregiver to all of our Atelier Kids families, is a trait she wears effortlessly.
Kathleen has been in the education field since 1993 and she has been working in a supervisory role at various childcare centres across the GTA since 2009. This includes three Montessori schools plus the launch and expansion of additional centres citywide.
Her history of empowering and mentoring educators in their own professional growth and development continues on with our well-established team of Reggio-inspired educators at Atelier Kids. Kathleen is an active and vital member of the management team, yet never forgets her roots as an educator. Throughout her career, she has successfully accomplished more than 10 perfect Ministry of Education annual inspections/reviews. (What an incredible track record!)
She’s a Humber College graduate in Early Childhood Education with an educational focus and specialization in Children with Special Needs. She’s a credible voice that our parents rely upon when developmental questions arise. Her experience guides her incredible ability to voice alternatives and solutions to assuage fears and concerns.
“Throughout my career I have developed a personal philosophy . . . children are unique, communicative, and responsive to a variety of environments and opportunities. Children have the miraculous ability to rise to individual challenges, to gently mentor, and graciously accept mentoring. As an educator, I’ve learned just as much as I’ve taught.”
Kathleen and her husband enjoy travel, fine dining, and with just one look, it’s evident that she enjoys a divine sense of style and fashion. She calls High Park home, as it’s where she was born and raised and has spent the majority of her life here in the West End. Her seasoned life and professional experiences, coupled with the exceptional energy and commitment she brings to the role, are evident in such a variety of ways. Kathleen is thrilled to be a part of our Atelier Kids team and shares a genuine attitude of joy throughout her days in our centre.
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.