Many a local parent mourned the day that Accotink Academy By the Sea shut its doors last Spring. It was a wonderful school where many friendships, both parent and child, developed.
Katie Falwell of Keystone Child Development Center, had spearheaded the purchase of Accotink in 2016, but terms of the sale could never be fully agreed upon in time for the 2016-2017 academic year, and the sale fell through.
“Parents have told us that they want an academic environment for their preschool-aged and primary school-aged children that is personalized rather than standardized.” says Falwell. “They’re looking for a premier private school rather than a daycare for their children.”
Falwell is pleased to announce the establishment of Collage Day School, a school with a “thoughtful and balanced” approach to education, with “living classrooms” and a myriad of experiential learning opportunities. And this time, the sale of old Accotink property has worked out.
In speaking to Falwell, she has a real vision for the school, which will cover ages 3 months through 5th grade.
For those familiar with the old Accotink campus, the courtyard between the two school buildings is set to be landscaped to make space for outdoor classrooms, a koi pond, sand volleyball, and bowling.
Falwell also says they plan to make use of the 8 acres by creating nature trails and butterfly gardens.
Renovations on the property are set to begin next week.
We asked Falwell to answer some of the basic questions interested parents might want to now.
Where is Collage going to be located? Is it the old Accotink campus?
Collage Day School will be located at 171 Canal Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082. The buildings and outdoor spaces formerly used by Accotink Academy By The Sea will be totally renovated. The 8-acre campus is nestled between the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean in the heart of the Ponte Vedra Beach area of St. Johns County and will be developed to offer Collage Day School students hands-on experiences with nature and outdoor learning.
The grounds will serve as a “living classroom.” As an independent private school, we feel privileged to be able to create a curriculum based on the needs of a developing child. This allows us to intentionally and carefully align creative activities with emerging cognitive, emotional, and physical stages of growth.
Collage Day School is an ideal place for children to learn through direct experience and play.
Who is your target audience?
Collage Day School is designed to educate children from 3 months old through fifth grade whose parents seek an academically challenging, independent day school. Collage is passionate about providing a rich integrative curriculum designed to encourage creative thinking personalized for each student.
Differentiation occurs at every level, giving each child the freedom to move ahead in areas the child has mastered and allowing for extra work and enrichment activities in areas of emerging mastery. Collage staff is challenged with uncovering the unique learning profile of each individual student and matching that knowledge with instruction.
Collage accommodates students of all levels on the educational spectrum of learning. Our curriculum offers individualized and innovative instruction that is prescriptive based on each student’s individual needs. We introduce new concepts or new skills when children are ready to learn them. Our students are exposed to world knowledge in literature, math, social studies and science. They learn from their teachers and through discovery.
Rather than filling students with pre-digested information and concepts to memorize for standardized tests, our teachers use experiences, discussion and other activities to help students discover concepts. We teach students how to think, not what to think. By allowing students to discover concepts for themselves, rather than merely being fed concepts, we are engaging them in the thinking process and giving them the experiences to learn to become independent thinkers.
Do you offer any gifted resources?
We offer a Gifted Program led by Gifted Endorsed/Certified faculty for parents who seek an advanced curriculum for their children. Students graduating from Collage Day School will be well prepared for acceptance into Gifted/IB programs at the secondary level.
How does Collage differ from other private schools like The Bolles School, Jacksonville Country Day and Beaches Episcopal?
Our approach is thoughtful and balanced. It is also developmentally appropriate and based on the best practices in the education field. We are inspired by a variety of philosophies and approaches, which we blend together into a program that reflects our commitment to helping children lay the best possible social, emotional, physical, and cognitive foundations.
Our goal is to foster the growth of whole, well-rounded, and happy children and to inspire an appreciation for the natural world. Collage is dedicated to promoting the health of our students. Our students do not spend their day sitting in front of computers under artificial lights, but have the opportunities to move and use their bodies in healthy ways and to spend time outdoors in the natural environment. The School’s campus is a beautiful outdoor learning environment with a myriad of natural features such as trails and pathways, gardens, play centers, koi ponds, and an inner courtyard that provides a common area and learning spaces for the Collage family to gather and socialize.
What can you tell us about your faculty?
The faculty of the School is made up of a combination of certified lead teachers and assistant teachers who thrive in a school climate of collegiality and ongoing professional development. Each member of the faculty and staff works to foster a peaceful and productive work environment for our students. Resource teachers will offer classes in Physical Education, Art, Music, and Yoga.
The creativity of the teacher is central to the pedagogy. Each teacher is tasked to bring their subject matter to the students in a way that is engaging and enlivening and appropriate for the developmental stage of the student, rather than follow a scripted lesson plan developed by someone else.
Our faculty meets the rigorous standards of accreditation. Collage is a New School Candidate working toward full membership and accreditation by the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS), Florida Kindergarten Council (FKC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The school’s VPK program is endorsed by the Florida Department of Children & Families.
What ages are you catering to? Will there be blended grades at first while your ramp up?
Collage Day School serves children from 3 months old through 5th grade within five communities: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool, Primary and Elementary.
Is there a particular “style” of education you are modeling the school after? What curricula will be available?
Collage Day School will have access to varying hands-on and real-world curricula. Each student’s curriculum will be chosen based on his/her individual needs. The learning plans and curriculum are carefully monitored by the faculty and administrators. Collage administrative staff includes a Director of Education and Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Administration ensures that Collage’s educational objectives are aligned to frameworks and to instructional practices that yield the highest standards of student achievement and instructional excellence.
Will you be offering lunch?
Yes, we will work with a caterer who will prepare a la carte organic snacks and lunches.
What is the school price point? Do you offer scholarships?
Here is a link to the tuition schedule.
Economic diversity enhances the educational and social experience for both children and adults, and is critical to sustaining a healthy school culture. Collage Day School uses indexed tuition to support our commitment to making a Collage Day School education accessible to families from a wide range of economic circumstances. We assess each family’s ability to pay in order to assign an appropriate tuition rate. Florida provides a variety of school choice options, including scholarship programs. These programs allow parents unprecedented choice among public and private schools.
Is there a VPK program?
Collage Day School offers a free VPK program that is endorsed by the Department of Children & Families.
What kind of resources and enrichments will you be offering students?
Children can pick and choose from a wide variety of Enrichment classes, which teach everything from health and wellness, to social skills, creativity and more. The purpose of these classes is to enhance “the whole child.”
· Picasso Painters – Kids become transformed into miniature Picassos! Kids will explore all types of art media to develop self-expression and creativity.
· Making Music – Kids unleash their creativity and embrace fun through the arts in an atmosphere of joy through singing, playing instruments, games and storytelling.
· Tiny Dancers – This is the ideal way for kids to get a healthy amount of exercise, express themselves and have a blast through movement, music, games and choreography.
· Collage Yogis – Kids strengthen their bodies while trying new things, such as balancing, hand stands and even finding stillness at the end of an energy-filled class. Yoga improves body awareness, gross motor skills and self-regulation. They also learn the skills of attending to instruction, following directions and collaborating with peers.
· Se Habla Español – Kids learn the basics of Spanish as a second language through games, songs, stories and movements while building confidence and having fun learning.
· Mad Scientists – The best way to learn is through experiments. This class brings out the science lovers in all as young scientists conduct experiments, learn more about social sciences and have fun along the way.
· Nature Lovers – Kids explore the outdoors through nature walks, nature talks and discovering ways to save the environment.
· Creative Cooks – Kids learn about healthy food choices in and out of the house to improve nutrition and wellness. They also find fun ways to implement healthy food options and daily smart food choices.
· Cardio Lovers – Kids kick it into gear with a high energy class that promotes an active lifestyle. This class is sure to keep their heart rates up and burn off that cooped-up energy that’s ready to come out.
· Computer Lab – Kids experiment with various software to learn keyboarding, 3D design printing, digital special effects and more.
Is there before and after care?
Yes, we offer before-care beginning at 7am and after-care ending at 6pm.
When does Collage open?
Students will start classes on Thursday, Aug. 10, and the school will follow the St. Johns County Public School Calendar.
How do I place an application to the school?