Early Childhood (PS/PK)

Reggio-Inspired Early Childhood Center


About the Program

Woodland’s Early Childhood Center immerses children of preschool and pre-kindergarten age in a caring atmosphere of wonder and exploration.

In an unhurried environment, children of preschool and pre-kindergarten age delve deeply into curated materials and learning experiences where they play, make observations, test theories, construct knowledge and communicate what they learn to peers and teachers.

Students direct themselves through much of our day in open-ended centers -- building, crafting, reading, pretending, gardening, drawing, and playing with their peers. These centers change and grow through the year and support the physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive areas of development. Our program helps children:

  • Develop a sense of self, confidence and responsibility
  • Foster meaningful peer and teacher relationships
  • Build problem solving skills
  • Think logically and symbolically
  • Nurture creativity
  • Build stamina and focus
  • Develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills
  • Achieve fine and gross motor skills

To build a strong foundation for literacy and numeracy, teachers bring children of similar readiness together in small groups throughout the day to deliver targeted academic instruction. Specialist teachers in Science, Music, Spanish and Physical Education visit the classroom weekly for enrichment classes.

Rich Opportunities for Social and Emotional Development

In our mix-aged environment (Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten combined), children learn and grow together and cooperation replaces competition. Older children display leadership skills showing respect and compassion for younger children. Younger children adore and emulate their older mentors. We deeply value the social, emotional and cognitive learning that children experience when they are grouped in a mixed aged, family-like setting.

Children develop keen executive function skills as they self regulate in different settings throughout the indoor and outdoor classrooms. They can choose to have time alone, share time with a friend or small group. This independence enables children to be self-aware and self-directed.

Preschool = 3 years old by September 1

Pre-Kindergarten = 4 years old by September 1

Sample Schedule

Sample Schedule


7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. (Before School)
Morning Extended Care

8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
School Starts
Indoor/Outdoor Centers

10:00 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.

10:20 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.
Morning Circle

10:40 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.
Specialist Class

11:10 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.
Indoor/Outdoor Centers

12:20 p.m. - 12:40 p.m.

12:40 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Story Time

1:00 p.m.
Rest Time

After Rest
Outdoor Centers & Play

3:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Closing Circle
School Ends

3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. (After School)
Afternoon Extended Care


The Reggio-Emilia Approach

The wisdom of the Reggio philosophy has won the hearts of families and teachers for decades. In recent years, critical research has supported student-centered play and exploration as the best environment for young children to develop cognition, language and crucial social skills.

The approach was developed mid-century in Reggio Emilia, Italy by Loris Malaguzzi in collaboration with local teachers. Some basic tenants include:

  • Children are seen as strong and capable and filled with wonder about their world
  • Children’s interests drive their own learning and experiences
  • Children are engaged in activities that use multiple modalities -- touching, moving, listening, and observing
  • Children develop and explore relationships with other children, adults and the environment
  • Children have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves
  • Children and adults work collaboratively together to investigate, explore, and search for answers
Reggio Inspired Early Childhood Center Woodland School


“Our task is to help children communicate with the world using all their potential, strengths and languages and to overcome any obstacle presented by our culture.” -LORIS MALAGUZZI, FOUNDER OF REGGIO EMILIA'S EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY

"The Three Teachers"

We believe that there are "three teachers" that inspire learning in young children. All three elements work together to help children become capable, creative, and confident.

I. The Child along with his/her peers

Children Empowered to Learn

Some educational models view children as passive learners who sit and listen, follow directions, replicate or regurgitate what’s been presented. For our youngest learners this style of instruction imprints the notion that the locus of knowledge rests in adult hands.

Alternatively, inquiry-driven instruction asks children to be active learners. Children are curious about the world and how it works. They have a myriad of ways of thinking, exploring, discovering and learning—much of which is done through play. By listening to them and tuning into their interests and questions, we find new opportunities for them to investigate, explore their world, and grow.

II. The Adults including educators and parents

Teachers As Researchers and Guides

Our role as teachers is to know and understand each child well. To do this, teachers listen closely to what children say and make careful observations of their behavior and their interactions. With this knowledge, working alongside our students, teachers guide learning experiences carefully with questions and provocations. They reflect with children and prompt next steps. Grounded in respectful interactions, teachers are able to successfully support children’s individual needs, build on their wonder, support their joy, and help every child realize their potential.

Teachers partner with parents as collaborators. They share observations and experiences with one another to offer insights. Parents are welcome to join the class to volunteer or share what’s important to their family -- culture, experiences, etc. -- with the class. To help foster communication, teachers document the learning of children in a comprehensive portfolio to share with parents.

III. The Environment

Environment as the Third Teacher

Our indoor and outdoor spaces are designed to nurture a child’s sense of wonder and are carefully curated throughout the year to offer new opportunities for both learning and inspiration. The space is playful and warm, reflecting childhood itself. Scaled for our youngest learners, the environment encourages them to feel at home and provide opportunities for collaboration and exploration.

ECC Staff

Felicity Ackers

Director of Early Childhood Center

Felicity Ackers has 23 years of experience in early childhood education and 19 years of service at Woodland School. Her teaching philosophy involves creating a nurturing environment tailored to each child’s individual academic and social-emotional needs. She encourages students to develop communication and fine and gross motor skills through play and self-directed activities. To unleash the power of imagination, creativity, and wonder, Ms. Ackers incorporates stories, arts/crafts, and role-playing into the classroom. She looks forward to witnessing children thrive and transition to Kindergarten with Woodland’s Reggio-inspired Early Childhood Program.

What Inspired You to Become A Teacher?
I had a very nurturing and passionate fourth grade teacher who took a real interest in her students, always motivating and cheering us on. Since then, I have always wanted to be a teacher and emulate her energy and enthusiasm.

Pat Bond

Early Childhood Teacher

What Inspired You to Become A Teacher?
I love being around young children. Being a part of their early discoveries in life and helping to set their foundations for a lifetime of learning is very exciting and rewarding to me.

Kayla Clark

Stuart Hicks

Early Childhood Teacher

Mr. Stuart earned his B.F.A from Cooper Union in NY while working in the graphic design field then he moved up to Boston where he worked for the city's largest ad agency. After two years, he relocated to San Francisco where he started his own design firm called Bull's Eye Communications. While successfully utilizing his design and account management skills for several years, it was his volunteer work at a local childcare center that ultimately felt more meaningful and important. Within a year, Mr. Stuart got into Erikson Institute's master's program in child development in Chicago and also began working at Francis Parker School in their pre-k class. One child in that class then set him on a path for the next 13 years working with young children born with various challenges. As a consultant, social coach and play specialist, he worked with more than fifteen children along with their parents and teachers in twelve different Bay Area early childhood schools and programs. This is what led him to Peter's Place Nursery School in San Francisco where he was hired as a full time teacher for the next seven years. He is now thrilled to join Woodland School where he will continue to be inspired and do meaningful work with the staff, parents and of course, the children.

What Inspired you to become a Teacher?

While working in the design and marketing fields for almost fifteen years, I also did volunteer work whenever possible. Little did I know how much my life would change after I began volunteering at the SF Tenderloin Childcare Center. As I spent more time with the staff, the parents and the children, it became clear to me that this was the field I needed to be working in.

Forrest Jensen

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I went into teaching because I wanted to help build and shape the future as well as help kids discover their passions. Teaching the video production elective has allowed me to help middle schoolers build upon their interests and passions they already have.

Mr. Forrest started working at Woodland in the extended care program in February of 2014. While in the extended care program he got to meet and hangout with all the fabulous Woodland School students! In 2015 he started working at Nixon Elementary as an aide in the special education department. Now, he currently helps with school videos, teach the video production elective, and teach the after-school video production class here at Woodland.

Lisette Lugo

Early Childhood Teacher

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Lisette Lugo graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Shen went on to work in the advertising world focusing on illustration. After the birth of her two children blended her knowledge of art and education for others. Her love for teaching led to many audiences, such as Alzheimers, “at risk” youth, people on the spectrum and even corporate team building. Once completing her MFA in Creative Inquiry from the California Institute of Integral Studies, SF in 2015, she was asked to substitute for several months at Woodland for 3rd- through 8th-grade art. Lisette then joined Woodland full-time in 2016 as an ECC teacher encouraging the curiosity of “creative inquiry” through the Reggio inspired program .

Alejandra Navarro

"I come from a family of educators- father, mother, sister, brother, aunt, and uncle. My mother was a bilingual kindergarten teacher for over 35 years and I spent an enormous amount of my youth helping her in the classroom. My mother's tenacity, humor, and creativity inspired me to become an educator. After having my own children, my desire to become a teacher grew. I started to see everything as a learning experience! After one week in the classroom, I knew I found the perfect job. It is both fascinating and uplifting to be surrounded by young people; every day brings me joy. It truly is an honor to have the opportunity to inspire and teach our next generation."

Mrs. Navarro has lived in Mexico, Chile and France. After working in the wine industry for almost 10 years, she relocated from southern France to the SF Bay Area to be closer to family. Ms. Navarro holds degrees in International Business and Winemaking. She speaks fluent Spanish and French.

Ayeshah Tahirah

Ayeshah Tahirah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the College of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has enjoyed teaching young children in the classroom for the past decade. Ayeshah has taught internationally in Turkey, Singapore, and Austria, where she grew immensely, working with culturally diverse students ranging in age from four through six. Ayeshah helped develop and implement an international curriculum focused on student-centered, balanced, whole-child creative learning. She has also taught American curricula. Ayeshah’s aim as an educator is to ensure that each student feels supported, happy, safe, engaged and challenged. She is committed to fostering the growth of the whole individual, focusing on their social, emotional, physical and mental development, all while catering to a child's specific needs and learning style. Besides teaching, Ayeshah’s other passions include traveling, photography, hiking and writing.