Tracey House always felt an affinity for teaching children, and as soon as she graduated from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 2000, she began her career as a public school teacher.
Now an adjunct professor at Stockton with a master's degree in early childhood education, she owns and operates the Garden State Academy Preschool of the Arts, a small progressive preschool on Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway Township.
She calls it her "dream school," born of a desire to achieve a higher level of understanding in child development and present a cross-curricular program that teaches to the whole child.
"The first experience in school only happens one time. Teachers in preschool can really affect how a child learns and their love for learning," said the 36-year-old mother of three. "My own experience as a mother, teacher, administrator and professor lead me to bring something of this caliber to our area."
With its grand opening this past September, House said, Garden State Academy Preschool of the Arts offers a brand new program in the Atlantic County area.
Based on her years in the field of childhood education, House wanted to open a school that follows the Creative Curriculum, a teaching strategy heavily influenced by the Montessori and Reggio Emilia educational philosophies.
She also wanted to create a school with a "home away from home" atmosphere, she said.
"Children are inspired to create, as we emphasize it's about the process not the product," said the Egg Harbor Township resident.
House said she chose Galloway Township as the location for her school because it was something needed in the area.
"We are not a day care, but a school with teachers that are ready to teach our high level learners or boost our students that need extra support," she explained.
The school's location right off the Garden State Parkway also makes it easy access for residents of Northfield, Egg Harbor Township, Mays Landing and other neighboring towns.
As part of the philosophy at Garden State Academy, students work in small groups with individualized learning, she said.
The school currently has an enrollment of 20 children, and can accommodate as many as 24, House said. She said her student-teacher ratio is 6:1, which benefits the students.
"We actually study the children to see how they learn best and then we apply that to their instruction," she said, adding that her staff of five teachers all have college or master level degrees and hold state teaching certifications.
The school has a health coach, an art director and a music director on staff, all contributing to the curriculum, she said.
House said although she currently targets the preschool level, the school welcomes all level learners, and she has a full kindergarten curriculum on site for high level learners. She hopes to offer a full kindergarten class in the fall of 2015.
The school is open September through June, but House said she will have a summer enrichment program available for preschools to third graders for art, music and literacy.
She is currently accepting enrollment for September 2014, she said.
Contact Lucia C. Drake:
To learn more
For more information or a tour of the Garden State Academy Preschool of the Arts, call 609-241-1304 or see gardenstateacademy.com.