Year: 2016 – Province: British Columbia
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
Brooklyn Elementary School StrongStart
1290 Guthrie Road
Comox, British Columbia V9M 4G2
Type of setting: School-based StrongStart centre for children ages 0 to 5 years who are accompanied by an adult
Parents and caregivers from up to 60 families learn and play beside their young children each morning at Maureen Wagner's early learning drop-in program.
Philosophy of care
Mrs. Wagner's room is a "Yes!" place, where children can experiment and take risks through play. Rather than directing them, however, she watches the children, asking questions and guiding them as they explore. She also shares techniques with parents and caregivers on how they can do this, too.
Support of child development
- Runs an open-ended class, with a flexible schedule: children can stop and start play- and exploration-based activities depending on their interests and development.
- Encourages invention and discovery by giving children the materials (such as cardboard boxes) to build structures, invent machines and create works of art.
- Co-designed, with elementary school colleagues, grab-and-go nature backpacks filled with items to facilitate outdoor exploration and play by children, and their parents and caregivers.
Involvement with parents, families and the community
- Maintains her popular blog, StrongStart, to share the details of her philosophy and the particulars of her classroom activities; readers are parents and educators from around the world.
- Encourages multi-generational learning: StrongStart families visit a local seniors centre weekly for songs, and arts and crafts with their Grandfriends; every two weeks, Grade 7 Big Buddies come to the classroom for literacy and numeracy activities, or attend gym class with the families.
- Created Fairy Lane, a trail in a local forest, inspired by one in another community: families placed fairy houses and doors they had built; worked with the city to recreate them after they were removed because of a complaint, adding a plaque that explains the project and encourages environmental awareness.
"When coming into her classroom, we know [Maureen will] be a positive and smiling presence in our children's lives!"
"If every child is lucky enough to have a teacher as passionate and dedicated as Mrs. Maureen Wagner, our future will be bright."
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