Featured Teacher | Maggie Queen | Preschool A Lead Teacher

Maggie Queen is our Preschool A Lead Teacher at our Park West location. Maggie was drawn to Children’s Discovery Center because of its clean, natural environment, behavior principles and Christian foundation. She enjoys the structure of the pods within the classroom, which allows for a more enriching work environment than a typical static classroom. Maggie loves the idea that lessons are born out of the children’s interests and the emphasis on natural materials.

When asked what she enjoys most about being a part of the Children’s Discovery Center family, Maggie shared that she enjoys the positive working relationships she has built with teachers, parents and children. These relationships make her feel like she is part of the community.

Maggie is from Milton, Massachusetts, just South of Boston, and she comes from a loving family with a brother and sister. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her German Shepherd/Bernese Mountain Dog mix named Maverick. She also loves the sunshine and the beach (she moved to South Carolina because she despises the cold). Another fun fact? She grew up playing hockey on Martha’s Vineyard! Maggie’s goal in life is to help or have a positive impact on everyone she comes into contact with and she says she always does her best to be kind and love others.

Featured Project: Investigating Ponds

Preschool A has been investigating ponds. In order to put their findings into a tactical learning experience, the class recently created a pond terrarium using a clear vase, water and natural materials.

The children were provided pictures of underwater scenes and given the pond materials to create their own underwater scene. They loved the different textures, learning about pond life and the various kinds of moss.

After they made their terrarium, they discussed what might be in the ponds they have seen near their homes and the big pond behind our school.

The children are so excited to continue learning about the beauty of nature located in and around ponds throughout the Lowcountry.

Featured Project: Investigating Jellyfish

Children love sharing their discoveries from visiting the ocean with their families. One day, the children began talking about the jellyfish they had seen.

This sparked an interest with many of the children, so we began asking them what they knew and wanted to learn about these creatures.

We started our learning by observing photographs and diagrams. We began to study the different parts of the jellyfish with a particular interest in their stinging tentacles.

To create their individual jellyfish, the children collected natural materials such as clear plastic tops, twine and bubble wrap. They incorporated the bell, mouth, oral arms and tentacles.

One of the students remarked, “I want a neon jellyfish!” So, he chose to paint his bell with fluorescent paint to ensure his jellyfish could be seen in the deep, dark ocean.

The children utilized their fine motor skills and vocabulary as they drew jellyfish using oil pastels. Another student observed that “the jellyfish needs water to live.” So, the children painted over their drawing with liquid watercolors to create a drifting or wandering jellyfish in the ocean.

The children were fascinated with the jellyfish and their many colors. They are so proud of their miraculous masterpieces!

Featured Teacher: Susan Hodges | Lead Teacher | Venning Road

Formally a coordinator with Lexington Medical Child Development Center in Columbia, South Carolina, Susan moved to the Charleston area around six years ago.

She had read about Children’s Discovery Center in Parents magazine and decided to apply for a position as a lead teacher. Once she became a part of the team, she felt right at home.

“The environment and staff were so welcoming,” said Susan. “The overall atmosphere was warm and conducive to children learning and I wanted to be a part of the team.”

One of her favorite aspects of working at Children’s Discovery Center is the Reggio approach. She values the opportunity to listen and observe the children to see what their interests are each day.

“Discovering what makes them tick, what they find interesting and what they love to explore is the best part.”

Additionally, she appreciates that the children are part of the process of co-constructing knowledge and shared understanding with each other. Susan loves seeing their faces light up as they explore and learn.

“My biggest reward is the relationship with the children and their families as well as partnering with them to provide the best possible care.”

When she’s not busy exploring with her students, Susan enjoys shopping and spending time with her grandchildren. In addition to the children at Children’s Discovery Center, Susan says her grandchildren “are priceless and bring such joy to my heart.”

Featured Project: Examining Fingerprints

While investigating their skin tones, the Preschool B class began discussing the many other factors that make us different. For example, how we all have different eye colors, hair texture and fingerprints.

Fingerprints quickly became the focus of the lesson because of how interested the children were and the many questions they came up with regarding fingerprints.

The Preschool B class then began to examine and create their own fingerprints. They practiced illustrating and using different art materials to create fingerprints. They even painted them using the art mediums we created to match our different skin tones.

Overall, this project has become a celebration of multiculturalism and we cannot wait to see where our class’s curiosity leads us next!

Featured Teacher: Shauntel Foreman | Pre-school B Lead Teacher | Park West

For as long as she can remember, Shauntel knew she wanted to work with children. She began substitute teaching for Children’s Discovery Center while she was still in college and officially joined the team after graduation — and she hasn’t looked back since!

“Working here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Shauntel.

Her favorite part about working at Children’s Discovery Center is when she arrives at her classroom in the morning and her students immediately run up to her and give her hugs.

Shauntel loves the opportunity to incorporate natural materials that her students can get right outside the classroom and see what they can do with them. Letting their imagination run wild is especially fun for her.

In addition to using natural materials, Shauntel enjoys using music in her lessons, too.

“My assistant Ms. Alecia has a beautiful voice, and while preparing lunch, Ms. Alecia will take what we did during morning meeting and turn it into a song. The kids love it and sing along.”

A Charleston native, Shauntel enjoys trying new restaurants and spending time with her family in her spare time. She is a firm believer that “if life gives you lemons, don’t settle for simply making lemonade — make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.”

Featured Project: Investigating Turtles!

Children in Toddler E had been studying jellyfish when Brooks asked, “Are there any animals that eat jellyfish even though they sting?” To our discovery, we found that some turtles eat jellyfish. Our project focus then shifted to turtles, particularly, Leatherback Turtles.

Children began studying the parts of a sea turtle through diagrams and observing photographs upon the light table. Toddlers were soon able to identify parts of the turtle such as the shell, scutes, flippers and beak.

While observing pictures of different turtle breeds, toddlers became highly intrigued by the variances in turtle shells, particularly in the turtle scales (scutes). Toddlers were asked to create scutes of their own using recycled fruit jars. Toddlers used an array of natural materials to fill their scale: seeds, rocks and peas.

As a class, we glued each scale to a canvas to form a turtle shell. Jude stated, “Our turtle needs flippers and a head,” so we added flippers and a head to the shell using textured paint consisting of sand, glue and dark green paint. The paint consisted of rough, bumpy sand to represent the roughness of turtle skin. Vivian then said, “Ms. Alex, the turtle needs water to live,” so we added an ocean background.

Toddlers used bubble wrap and forks to create dimension such as waves and bubbles. The collaborative creation is proudly sitting on a shelf in the science center for children to reflect on, and parents and other classes to observe.

Featured Teacher: Alex Gibson | Toddler E Teacher | Venning Road

Ms. Alex Gibson is the Toddler E lead teacher and department coordinator. She moved to Charleston from a small town outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Alex has always had a passion for children, which is the reason she studied speech and hearing with a focus in adolescence at Edinboro University. After obtaining her degree, she worked in a classroom for children with special needs, which further solidified her love of teaching children.

After instantly falling in love with Children’s Discovery Center and its Reggio inspired philosophy Ms. Alex said, “Children are capable, competent, and natural researchers who have a desire to learn.”

Ms. Alex believes the most interesting part of the Reggio learning style is how each child may possess the same materials, yet each creation is completely unique. Her favorite aspect of working at Children’s Discovery Center is watching and listening to how each child interprets a concept.

She also believes communication is one of the main keys to educational success, which is why she loves inspiring discussion and conversion amongst the entire class. Her students teach her something new every day, which is what she believes is the most rewarding aspect of teaching.

When Ms. Alex isn’t in her Children’s Discovery Center uniform, you will most likely find her exploring the city or at Kiawah Beach with her two beloved puppies, Kona and Ollie.

A fun fact about Ms. Alex is she considers herself a “foodie” and enjoys venturing to different restaurants to sample new, bizarre foods. She mentions that she is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and more than likely will be found watching and cheering loudly for the Steelers every Sunday.

She stated how her mother has been a preschool teacher for more than 20 years and is the epitome of what a teacher should embody: patience, creativity and strength. Ms. Alex hopes she is able to embody those traits in her classroom every day to positively impact her students’ education.

Featured Project: From the ground up!

The Toddler D class has been investigating different types of surfaces that cars and trucks drive on. They initially explored dirt roads and have been asking and discussing what is in and under the dirt.

This led the class to create a representation of the different layers of the ground. They began by going on a nature walk to collect material that makes up the main layers of dirt: rocks, sand, dirt and grass.

Next, they assembled each layer by gluing them to the wooden slab to represent the five layers.

It has been a fun and exciting process, exploring dirt and making our own representation to display!

Featured Teacher: Natalie Mallis | Toddler D Lead Teacher | Park West

Ms. Natalie Mallis, the lead Toddler D teacher for our Park West center, is originally from Marin County, California. When she moved to Mount Pleasant a little over two years ago, Children’s Discovery Center was at the top of her list of places to work after her initial visit.

“Because of how welcoming and helpful the other teachers and administration were, I knew this was where I wanted to be,” said Natalie. “Plus, the school is beautifully designed and I love the class structure. It feels like a real school!”

Natalie particularly enjoys teaching her students new things, such as French or sign language, and watching her students grow and develop.

“I love seeing my old students now in preschool and seeing how far they’ve come. Nothing is better than the happy smiles on their face as they come to say ‘hi’ to me when I see them throughout the school.”

Additionally, seeing how excited the children get when they accomplish their goals or conquer a new skill like potty training is the main reason why Natalie loves working with children.

When utilizing the Reggio Emilia philosophy in her classroom, Natalie is excited that she can use nature as inspiration for her projects.

“It’s fun to see what the children can create from materials they find around them.”

When she’s not at Children’s Discovery Center, Natalie can be found watching movies, relaxing and exploring the Lowcountry. She especially enjoys trying new things and discovering new places.

“I have traveled a lot in my life. I’ve been to Europe, Southeast Asia, Israel, Mexico, Belize, Canada and all over the U.S.,” she said. “I love traveling and exploring the different cultures, as well as eating all of the yummy food!”

Her personal motto, “to live in the moment,” allows her to not worry about the past or stress about the future, and just stay present — especially when she’s working with the Toddler D students at Children’s Discovery Center!