Like all parents, when my daughters were toddlers, I wanted them to have a safe, loving, positive childcare and preschool experience. I wanted to drop them off each morning and feel confident that their day would be nurturing and stimulating, with caregivers and teachers that I trusted and valued. And when I found that for them at The Acorn School, I truly felt, emotionally, in my heart, “all children and parents deserve this kind of program.”
One of my favorite quotes is: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. I see Wilderness as an opportunity to be that change. My hope is that our community will see the value of early childhood education and invest in our vision, not only because it benefits children and families, but because it benefits our community.
“I am an Acorn parent because I like the family/community feel.”
“This is a wonderful place full of amazing staff and children. What we do here is important work.”
“This is a wonderful place with wonderful teachers who do an amazing job of caring and educating children.”
Wilderness Early Learning Center reflects the values of inclusiveness, respect, joy in learning, and collaboration that I strive to instill in myself and my children. I believe our world should operate the way Wilderness Early Learning Center does.
The top three reasons I love Wilderness are:
1. First and foremost are the wonderful children. Every one of them is so special, full of potential, and blessed to have such wonderful families to care for them.
2. The families at Wilderness are simply terrific. I have had the honor of meeting and getting to know many of them. I hope to grow in my relationships with them over the coming years.
3. Finally, our teachers and staff are yet another reason why I love this school. I am honored to be teaching amidst such an educated and devoted staff. I appreciate all of the different perspectives they have to offer, special talents, ideas, and creativity. I will learn a lot from my time here with them.
Here at Wilderness Early Learning Center, nutrition really is an important part of our “whole child” philosophy. I’m proud to provide quality, nourishing food to our children, and help them learn healthy eating habits that they will carry with them into adulthood.
“There is no way to thank The Acorn School enough for all they have done for us. With the Wilderness Early Learning Center, it’s amazing to think of how many families Acorn will be able to help.”
“…if Acorn hadn’t offered a scholarship, I would have had to quit my job to stay home with my daughter. Limited to one income—my husband does snow removal—we probably would have had to go on an assistance program like food stamps, which I have never had to do in my life.
“I love how there are parents from all over the world and that Acorn makes a point of celebrating all cultures. Next year, for example, I am going to come in and lead a Day of the Dead activity. In my daughter’s class alone, there are children with parents from Bolivia, Germany, Sweden, Africa, and Portugal.”
“The teachers were 100 percent engaged with their kids, not sitting and socializing amongst themselves, as I have seen at other places. It felt like a family in the best sense.”
“I witnessed firsthand how the teachers individualized their care based on the needs of the child. And it meant a lot to me that I was encouraged to sit and hang out as long as I wanted. In short, it was just the warm and welcoming environment that I envisioned for my son.”
“Acorn offers an environment beyond the scope of home. I see it as “home on steroids.” It‘s exactly how you would outfit your home for your child—if you didn’t have to live an adult life there. “
“Acorn’s hours are long—7:30 till 5:30— and allowed both of us to be working parents. It was a huge relief to continue on with our own career fulfillment knowing that our child was well cared for.”
“For us, what makes Acorn different from other schools is the immediate sense of family. Everyone here is so genuinely friendly—we feel the affection palpably.”
“One of the reasons we were able to afford Acorn was their willingness to work within our budget and help us with a sliding financial scale. There were many times that we thought we might not be able to manage the tuition, but each time Acorn worked hard to find a solution.”
“The magic of this place lies in the teachers. The way we think about it, they are the angels that have been sent us to look after our daughter.”
“As a parent I believe it’s my role to uplift and nurture my child’s inherent cheerfulness. Acorn completely meshes with that philosophy. I see it as a school that supports—and embraces— my daughter’s love of movement, play, and joy.”
“From the moment we first saw Acorn we knew that’s where we wanted to be. It took about a year on the waiting list for my son to get in, but once we got in we stayed through graduation. My daughter Grace started at three months. She had Debby and Cookie, who both amazed me with their skill. Grace wasn’t taking the bottle well at all, which can be nerve-wracking for a working mom. Under their auspices, they got Grace to take the bottle and do all kinds of impressive things. After my son graduated, I decided to change schools. I came back with a newfound appreciation for Acorn’s values: how accessible the staff is, the ratio of teachers to children, the homey environment, the genuine affection of the teachers. The way the kids are deftly managed, with equal parts firmness and love. I am continually surprised by how they get the kids to sleep on mats, respond to table etiquette at mealtimes, and clean up their messes with enthusiasm. And never once did I observe any anger in the teachers—there was just a palpable even keel to the flow of the day.”
The teachers develop personal relationships with the children, and although each person who works at the school has a clearly defined role, when it comes to how the kids are cared for, they definitely spread the love around lavishly. Everybody knows who you are, and more importantly, who your child is.
When I asked Abilene what she would miss most about Acorn, she instantly replied “Maxima’s lunches.”
The teachers were 100 percent engaged with their kids, not sitting and socializing amongst themselves, as I have seen at other places. It felt like a family in the best sense. The food is home cooked, nutritious, and appetizing—Maxima, the head cook, prides herself on providing quality food for the children and staff. I liked how the teachers move up with the children and form a lasting bond, rather than starting with a new teacher each year.
I’ve had three children go through Acorn. Every milestone of my kids that they noticed they celebrated with me. Learning to walk, language acquisition, math skills. The teachers seem as excited as parents are when their kids learn a new skill—and they are just as motivated to get them to succeed. We work with the teachers, at school and at home, to provide consistency in what we teach the children. With my older son, who was talented at math, his teachers challenged him every day to develop his proficiency. With my other son, they picked up and flagged some early learning struggles that later turned out to be ADD. And with my daughter, who is bilingual, the teacher took an active role in learning some Spanish words to support my daughter’s growing vocabulary. They encourage the kids to accelerate where appropriate and to get extra attention as needed. They never make them feel like they are in the wrong place or behind.
Acorn excels at encouraging parenting involvement and keeping them informed. The director sends out frequent emails to keep parents abreast.
Although right from the start we felt that Acorn was a wonderful environment, there were many areas that they exceeded our expectations. We were pleasantly surprised when we learned that they taking a collection of items to donate to families in need. Acorn actively involved the kids in the process, including the children in presenting the donation to the chosen organization. It made a huge impression on Linda to realize that there are others in need and that she could help. I love that the schools values are so in line with our own, setting, by example, the importance of helping people less fortunate
I realized quickly that Acorn takes the care they give children very seriously and gives their needs paramount importance. But I also loved the focus on individual expression, both on the part of the teacher and the child. For example, all the teachers at Acorn have rock solid credentials, yet each teacher has their own unique style—and room to express it.
Acorn offers an environment beyond the scope of home. I see it as “home on steroids.” It‘s exactly how you would outfit your home for your child—if you didn’t have to live an adult life there. The infant room is a sanctuary of white noise and cocooning darkness, and for the older kids the toilet is right there in the room for easy access. The kids get to explore every nook of their space, and nobody gets mad if a jar of glitter gets dropped and alights everywhere.