Our preschool serves the families of Calgary's inner-city northwest communities and is run under the auspices of the West Hillhurst Community Association (WHCA). Our bright and inviting classroom is located on the second floor of the West Hillhurst Community Centre at 1940 6th Ave NW.
We run preschool classes for 3-5 year old children. All classes are taught by exceptional teachers using a play-based curriculum. The preschool also has access to other WHCA amenities including the ice rink, outdoor space and baseball/soccer fields. We have:
- small class sizes (1:9 maximum)
- a play-based curriculum
- outdoor time
- individual school supplies
- sessional programming like skating, soccer, music, science
- a community focus: many families live in the neighbourhood
Above all, we endeavour to make our classroom a warm and caring environment where children can learn through play while meeting the physical, social, intellectual, creative and emotional needs of each individual child. We believe that play-based learning is the best way to facilitate the development of creative thinkers, problem solvers, and independent, self-confident beings who will grow up to be caring, happy and productive adults. It is also the way children learn to make friends.
At the core of our program is free play. The children are free to choose what they will play with and with whom they will play, but the toys, centres and materials are set up by the teachers to facilitate learning. We believe that children naturally learn about themselves, others and the world around them when they are free to explore, take risks, ask questions, pursue interests and interact with other children and adults in a safe, stimulating and creative environment.
Structured or teacher-directed activities are also valued in our program. These times provide additional opportunities for appropriate social, intellectual and physical development. Story, circle and snack times along with group music and movement classes all work together to help children develop early literacy, numeracy, gross motor and music skills.
We strongly believe that social development is the greatest need of the preschooler. That entails learning to be comfortable and independent apart from parents, making friends, learning interpersonal skills and manners, and learning to speak for one self.
We value community, believing that our programs are enhanced by parent involvement in and outside the classroom.
Mandatory Outside the classroom parent involvement: As a parent run organization, volunteering outside the classroom is mandatory for our families, with many opportunities that help our school run smoothly and allow parents to engage with the classroom. These include roles on the Executive Committee, the Special Events teams, laundry help, to making playdough. Open volunteer positions are filled annually at the Annual General Meeting of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) held in June for the upcoming school year.
Free play is an important part of each day. The children are free to choose what and with whom they will play, but the toys, centres and materials are set up by the teachers to facilitate learning. We believe that children naturally learn about themselves, others and the world around them when they are free to explore, take risks, ask questions, pursue interests and interact with other children and adults in a safe, stimulating and creative environment.
Themes are developed to tap into children’s interests and their natural curiosity in the world around them. These themes are often teacher initiated but they take their lead from the children. Children teach each other and influence the curriculum through their passions, interests and knowledge. Examples of previous themes include: dinosaurs, the seasons, holidays around the world, insects, reptiles, bears, butterflies, authors and artists, community helpers and space.
We believe that children are artists and we value the art process more than the finished product. Learning opportunities abound for children as they express themselves through their art, work cooperatively with other, communicate freely, and develop their fine motor skills. Art materials are always available and frequently rotated. Art projects reflect class themes and personal interests.
Language & Numeracy
Our program is rich in opportunities to develop early literacy and numeracy skills. We believe that literacy within the context of preschool should emphasize speaking, create a love for books and story and introduce letters and sounds in ways that are meaningful and age-appropriate. Numeracy at this level emphasizes counting things (one-to-one correspondence), shape recognition, sorting, patterning, classifying and problem solving. Literacy and numeracy are integrated into every part of our day.
Spanish Language Programming
The Preschool's Spanish programming is a first approach to the language. Our native Spanish speaking teacher, Ms Giulliana introduces the kids to a new language through playful activities and music with passion and discipline.
Music & Movement
All classes receive weekly professional music classes where they are exposed to songs, dance, movement, rhythm & instruments. Music is also incorporated into our routines, transitions and other group times.
Movement education & outdoor time
Movement education, simple games and gross motor development are part of our weekly routine. In warmer weather we have use of the West Hillhurst Community Centre's Secret Garden space (just off of 19th street by the Go-Getter's parking lot) as well as the outdoor field.
All classes receive a set of skating lessons held on-site at the West Hillhurst Community Centre Arena.
Special Events & Sessional Instruction
Periodically, special guests and instructors visit our classroom. Past guests have included parents sharing special talents, knowledge or activities, the Calgary Police Service, including Hawk the compassion dog, and Pedal Heads, to name a few. Previous sessional instruction has included: soccer, dance, martial arts, and yoga.
Lisa has a passion for early learning, especially enriching young minds through play and mindful experiences. She always wanted to be a teacher! At the age of three she told her Mum and Dad “I’m going to be a teacher” and never changed her mind! She loves outdoor learning and the opportunities and experiences this gives to the children.
Having recently moved to Calgary from England, Lisa lives in the local community, enjoying all it has to offer with her daughter Niamh and husband Paul. You will often see her on the park, ice skating or in the pool! Lisa studied at Manchester University and qualified with a BA Hons in Primary Education. She spent the first 8 years of her career, teaching Kindergarten to Grade 6 in Liverpool and before her move to Canada she was a Vice Principle and Kindergarten teacher. She has enjoyed spending the last 18 months, settling into Canadian life and being a Kindergarten Mom and is excited to get back to teaching!
Giulliana’s smile, laugh and warmth are infectious. Giulliana is a positive, energetic teacher who has a passion for teaching young children and a passion for teaching Spanish. As an educator, Giulliana accommodates different learning styles, abilities and interests. She values free play and creatively combines music, movement, and visual aids to engage children as they learn a second language.
Originally from Peru, Giulliana completed a B.A. in physical education before becoming a teacher. She has many years of experience teaching both elementary and preschool children, first in Peru, then in Canada. She also teaches Spanish classes to children and adults outside of our community.
Cicely is not a stranger to the West Hillhurst Preschool as both of her girls graduated from here. She is very excited about being back in the classroom as a teacher instead of a parent volunteer.
Cicely has been working with children since her days as a day camp counsellor in high school. She then went on to get a degree in Physical Education and then Education and became a junior high teacher for a few years. She then moved to Chile, South America for seven years where both her girls were born. After her children were grown she went right back into working with children as it was her passion that she missed. In the past few years she has been working with elementary school and preschool children and has found that this age is her favourite.
She is a very active person who enjoys many sports and the outdoors especially if they include her dog Lily. Having fun and being active is very important to her and she incorporates this into her type of teaching. She believes that making the classroom a place where learning is fun can resonate with children for the rest of their lives.
Damariz is an enthusiastic, dynamic and caring individual who loves being a part of
the West Hillhurst community. She has two children and loves enjoying with her
family several activities -specially the outdoors-.
She moved to Canada 4 years ago from Bogotá, Colombia due to her husband's
job transfer. She is a communication and journalism professional, but she also has
been involved in children's care since 2012, when after becoming a mom and
evaluating the needs of the mothers coming back to work, she decided to
partnership a friend to set up a babysitting services company. As a personal side project, she ran the company for 7 years and established the agency as a trusted option for families in need of in-home childcare services.
In Calgary, she has been working with private language schools teaching Spanish programs. At the preschool, she is committed to provide a safe and nurturing environment for kids, making them feel safe, happy and loved. She recently obtained the Alberta Child Care certification program.
Vicki and her family live in West Hillhurst, and her children go to school here. They all love the neighborhood and its sense of community!
Vicki feels that education is one of the most important things we can give our children – they are our future world! As a mother of two children Vicki has spent many hours volunteering in classrooms, helping children as well as assisting teachers in delivering educational material.
Vicki grew up in Saskatchewan, later moving to Calgary and going back to school earning her CPA accounting designation and working in the Oil and Gas sector until their family moved to Saudi Arabia. Once back in Calgary Vicki was looking to change careers – and wanted to be part of an environment that gave back to the community. She is currently enrolled in the Alberta Child Care certification program.