Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Ripples beyond borders

Ripples beyond borders

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During a recent conversation about all sorts of other projects, Scott Nine mentioned the success of Nuestra Escuelita preschool in Puerto Rico – and attributed significant inspiration for that project to Opal School and the Museum Center for Learning.  Not knowing the story, I asked him to share it here.  Scott is an Opal School parent and was, until earlier this month, Executive Director of IDEA: The Institute for Democratic Education in America.

Nueva Escuelita, Opal School, and Ricky Martin by Scott Nine

Celebrity headlines, maybe most headlines, rarely capture the depth of a story. Detailed press releases can capture a bit more. What both miss are the arc. You likely just get to the end of the story or maybe you get the climax, rarely do you get the roots.

The two links above tell two parts of the story of the opening of Centro Tau in Loiza, Puerto Rico.

Here’s a few more (and by no means all) that may be of interest:

In April 2010, IDEA held one of its first “Innovation Tours” in Oregon and highlighted the Opal School. Three participants on that tour were leaders from an educational center in Puerto Rico called Nuestra Escuela (Our School).

Following the visit, Ana Yris Guzmán arranged a return trip and consultation with Susan MacKay, the Director of the Museum Center for Learning, for a customized training for her and two early childhood educators working on developing Nuestra Escuelita – an early childhood program of Nuestra Escuela.

That program began with 22 students in Hato Rey with attention given to realizing the school’s Mission of Love with it’s youngest members and their parents. The school grew in size and intentional practice as a fusion of models from Reggio, Montessori, and Nuestra Escuela itself.

Then, in it’s third year, a dream was realized as the project was invited to be part of Centro Tau – a state of the art facility focused around making an educational proposal to Puerto Rico rooted in reimagining what is possible and what the right relationships are between young people, adults, learning, and community. Built and opened with the support of the Ricky Martin Foundation and in partnership with several other leading community organizations, this is definitely headline and press release worthy.

The learning shared through Opal School and the Museum Center for Learning was and remains invaluable in the development of Nuestra Escuelita and while it may not make the headlines (or even should) it is also valuable to name and note the impact and connections linking shared values, effort, and organizations across 3,696 miles.

Nueva escuelita

The long term impact of our work is often unknown to us. It’s a treat to learn of the small part we played in supporting this great work happening in Puerto Rico. Coincidentally, this week I also received word that our work has played a small part in inspiring Yeni Okul in Istanbul. If we’ve influenced your efforts to create quality learning environments for children and adults, we hope you’ll share your story with us!