The Little School House That Can
By Donna Baum –
On the winding road to Colington, an innovative approach to daycare and early childhood education just opened its doors. Felicia and Chris Daniels, owners of the Colington Schoolhouse, feel they have been called to foster confident, considerate and inquisitive young world-changers.
“If you don’t have a good foundation, then you will fall,” reasons Felicia. “Children are capable of anything. You just have to give them the tools.”
Felicia believes in a holistic approach to learning, and nutrition plays an important role in the process. Because some of her young charges have food allergies, the staff is very careful with food preparation. Meals are made on the premises and each item’s label is read for content at the market and again before each dish is prepared. “We are very allergy-conscience,” says Felicia. “We are tree-nut and seafood free.”
From a well-equipped kitchen, healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks are enjoyed together with teachers, further fostering a united learning atmosphere. “We pay attention to each child as an individual,” says Felicia.
Touring this one-room schoolhouse reveals more than Elmo figures and the like. Books and toys depicting children in wheelchairs and other disabilities are on the shelves. Felicia makes clear her mission is more than representing a diverse cultural view for the children.
“I’m on a one woman crusade to end bullying,” she states. It is her belief that getting children to embrace acceptance now, in these formative years, is crucial to how they will interact as members of society later.
Her work at promoting good citizens extends to teaching how to care for the planet as well. “We produce very little waste here, only a scant half a trash bin is picked up every week,” Felicia says with pride. She then shows how they use small white cloths in stacks around the room instead of paper towels.
There is considerable emphasis on education for everyone at the school, for both the children and teachers. Felicia is in the process of getting her bachelors in K-12 child development.
“All of my teachers are experienced and . . . all are required by contract to continue their education,” she notes. The teachers are given time and substitutes for them to study while at work so their home life can flourish as well. They are also given funding by the school and the state to make this possible.
The school is truly a neighborhood project. Often people leave items on the porch at school or at the Daniels’ home. This community involvement extends to the outside area as well. Felicia envisions a “natural play area”, a garden, where all can plant and share in the care.
The garden area is a place of wonder for her students. Felicia describes how curious children often find insects, leading to research and sometimes the housing of them. With a smile, Felicia sums up her teaching perspective “We don’t just teach facts as much as facilitate experiences.”