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Shaylene Saxton: Going beyond the classroom door

Year: 2020 — Province: Alberta
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Rio Terrace Community Preschool
Preschool/playschool for children ages 3 and 4 years
Edmonton, Alberta

The children are always coming home with new skills without realizing they are working and practising, proving the relevance of Shay's process of learning through play.


Shaylene (Shay) Saxton never stops learning. In her five years at the preschool, she has done more than 200 hours of professional development, including a week-long study tour of New Zealand that led her to replace drawing sheets in her classroom with blank paper (to encourage greater creativity) and to give children more play time (particularly outdoors).

Philosophy of care

Shay focuses as much on children's social and emotional development as on their academic, cognitive and physical skills. Every day, she discusses each child's progress with parents, explaining concepts taught, discussing problems such as angry outbursts, and suggesting books or parenting techniques.

Support of child development

  • Encourages children to celebrate differences: develops activities for children with special needs that help all children understand their challenges, such as taking the whole class on an adventure walk in order to help one child practise walking on uneven surfaces.
  • Engages children who have limited English skills: employs visual cues such as pointing to help children understand verbal instructions; uses familiar words from children's first language, whenever possible.
  • Incorporates life events as a teaching tool: when one child's mother was pregnant, Shay used it as a springboard to talk with gathered families about different family types.
  • Introduces children to the world: organizes stimulating field trips to places such as a bakery and an aquarium.
  • Builds on children's natural interests: made sure a boy who loved experiments had access to slime, goop, a volcano and similar materials; allows children to make five of the same craft if they want to—or no craft at all that day.

Involvement with parents, families and the community

  • Celebrates diversity: teaches children about different holidays; encourages parents to bring in foods from their cultures, which she shares and discusses with children at snack time.
  • Reaches out to families outside of school hours: goes to children's birthday parties and lemonade stands; organizes meal drop-offs for families facing difficulties.
  • Organizes special events: coordinates holiday parties, parents' nights and pyjama movie nights; runs summer camps so children can see their friends and feel more comfortable coming back to class in the fall.
  • Forges community relationships: partnered with community league and local realtors on a fundraising event, real estate tour and garage sale; organizes a silent auction.

Get in touch!

Rio Terrace Community Preschool
15500 76 Avenue
Edmonton AB  T5R 4L8

Facebook: @Rio-Terrace-Community-Preschool-324040644370589

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