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: 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!

Featured Project: A Fruitful Exploration

The Preschool A class at Park West is currently studying various types of plants. After spending some time investigating insects, the children showed interest in learning more about where insects live and the different trees growing outside our school.

The children created the life cycle of a tree using clay and used canvas to represent the four main parts of a tree: roots, trunk, branches and leaves. They were even able to record their voices explaining each part!

Our Preschool A class was surprised to find that many fruits we eat grow from trees. We were able to plant our own pear tree outside the school and dissected various fruits in order to investigate how they grow.

We also had the opportunity to observe various trees in their natural environment by taking field trips to Angel Oak and Magnolia Plantation. And the class recently investigated fruits at the Boone Hall strawberry patch, too.

Featured Teacher: Taylor Watson, Park West Preschool & Pre-K Department Coordinator

A South Carolina native, Taylor earned her degree from the College of Charleston. After graduation, she came to Children’s Discovery Center, where she quickly became a valued member of our team.

Taylor started out in the Toddler DEF department at Park West as the Toddler F teacher. She also worked as the Preschool A teacher before accepting her current role as Preschool and Pre-K department coordinator.

One of her most rewarding moments was when she walked into the Preschool A classroom for the first day and was greeted with excitement from the children and families she had worked with previously.

“My favorite part of teaching here is the opportunity I have to develop relationships with the entire family,” said Taylor. “I also really love being able to see how the children grow and develop over the years.”

When she’s not busy keeping our Preschool and Pre-K department organized, Taylor enjoys reading by the pool, volunteering with the Junior League of Charleston and playing on her softball team.

She can also be found visiting her hometown in Bishopville, where nearly her entire family — including her grandfather’s 12 siblings! — still reside.

Featured Project: Transportation

Ms. Rolina’s Pre-K class explored the world of transportation by way of land, water and air. The children thoroughly enjoyed playing with the different means of transportation and continue to identify them while on the playground. “Look at the airplane in the sky!” or “the big kids ride the big yellow bus to school!” are just few of the comments made that proved all the more this was a journey we were going to travel!

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During morning meetings, Ms. Rolina asked students the following questions to check for background knowledge; “What different ways can people travel from place to place?” “Have you ever rode in a plane, boat or train?” “What vehicles travel on land?” “Which travel in air?” Ms. Rolina wrote the questions down and each day we explored and investigated to find the answers to those questions. Students learned about the different modes of transportation through song, informational text and short educational videos. They then applied their learning through working in collaborative groups to build a city with emphasis on road signs. We then weighed our different vehicles at the math station.

The children were especially excited about making their own vehicles out of clay with Ms. Stacey during art class! Students also created and designed their very own race cars using toilet paper rolls. We then drew out racetracks and included necessary signage. We had a blast and their creations turned out great!

Featured Teacher: Sara Sanderson – Venning Road Curriculum Coordinator/Lead Preschool B Teacher

Ms. Sara is a Massachusetts native and has lived in the Charleston area for about 4 1/2 years now. Her favorite part about working at CDC is seeing the children progress throughout the year. One of her students couldn’t spell his name, but really wanted to. After working diligently with him, he was finally able to spell his name! This memorable moment has been one of her most rewarding experiences.

In her spare time, she enjoys camping, fishing on her boat and hanging out with friends and family. One thing you may not know about her is that after college, she moved to Alaska for a year! She sold her car, packed up 3 boxes, bought and a laptop and became a nanny in the rural town, Tok.

We’re glad she is part of our team! If you haven’t already met Ms. Sara, introduce yourself next time you are at CDC!

Meet Ms. Alli- Park West Center Preschool Lead Teacher and Department Coordinator

unnamedMs. Alli was born and raised in Southern Maryland. She received her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from Frostburg State University while playing and attaining the roll of captain on her college’s varsity field hockey team. Ms. Alli knew she needed to be at Children’s Discovery Center when she stumbled upon the school online. The professional, yet lively ambiance is what inspired her to be a part of the “CDC family.” She began her journey at CDC as a lead teacher for the toddler department and was asked to be the preschool lead teacher and department coordinator for our Park West location within the year. Aside from working at CDC, Ms. Alli loves to bike ride, play intramural sports and tending to her energetic rescue puppy, Maddie. Ms. Alli is focused, passionate, and driven to work hard for all of the greater things in life.

Welcome to Our New Park West Assistant Director, Jennifer Grainger

Dear Parents,

We are pleased to announce that Jennifer Grainger has been hired as our new assistant director.

She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Clemson University and a masters in christian education from Pfeiffer University. Her experience includes working as a teacher of the gifted and talented class for the Dorchester School system. She has been director of children and youth at Trinity United Methodist Church in Blythewood, S.C. and Bethany United Methodist in Summerville, S.C. She has been employed with Kiawah Island Golf Resort most recently.

Jennifer brings a blend of education and business skills to her new position. Her warm and gregarious personality makes her an excellent fit for the assistant director position. We anticipate her joining us within a week.Thanks for your support and understanding as we transition to a new assistant director. I know she will do her best to get to know each of you as quickly as possible.

Katie Moore
Park West Director