Pathways HistoryPosted by Sharon Kovalevsky on 4/29/2018
Whilst at teachers college in Australia I heard about a wonderful preschool system in Reggio Emelia, Italy. Operating since WWII, Reggio Emelia preschools are multi-age, hands-on, parent participation and student interest based. I was very impressed and wanted to learn more.
When I first arrived in Pleasanton, CA in 2000, my daughters began attending Hill’n Dale preschool. There it was. Reggio Emelia in California! The 2 teachers Debbie Vigil and Romi team-taught the pre-school program where students of different ages were deeply engaged in authentic activities that developed from their own interests. Parents learned from the teachers, children and each other. It was such a successful program that parents began questioning: Why can there be something like this in elementary school? (Debbie and 3 colleagues went on to open a new preschool Room to Grow in Livermore.)
A group of parents joined forces to explore the options of creating alternative elementary education in the Tri-Valley. Initially, we looked at establishing a private school. However, it did not take us long to realize that families who pursue student-centered education for their children often make choices to stay home with their children. Thus they do not have the finances to afford private schools. Next, we undertook the daunting task of writing a Charter School application and applied to Dublin Unified School District. We chose to start small, with only 20 students, and the Board found the plan to be fiscally risky. However, as the DUSD board members voted, they requested that we explore other ways to offer Pathways as an alternative to families in Dublin.
Finally, we connected with Sandy Henriott, a teacher of 30 years experience in Dublin and conversations began. This was the real beginning! In September 2003, Pathways opened with 20 students, Kindergarten through 2nd grade. After a fantastic first year, Linda Todd, another 30-year veteran of DUSD, and colleague of Sandy’s joined us. Pathways doubled in size to 40 students and spanned Kindergarten to 3rd grade.
For the first 4 years of Pathways, my own two daughters were students in the program and I volunteered time team-teaching with Sandy and Linda. In its fifth year Pathways expanded again to 50 students. Both of Sandy's grandchildren and one of Linda's attended Pathways.
Pathways is very fortunate to be supported in our endeavors by Pat Hague, a retired Kindergarten teacher. Pat has volunteered her time one a day a week since the beginning of the program to come and work with our students.
On the back of its success Pathways has continued to expand. Growing to 75 students, Kindergarten through fifth grade, Mr. Brian Senf joined us, making us four teachers committed to quality, rigorous exciting education for today and tomorrow!