If you've been in Charlotte awhile, the first thing you realize is that very few people are actually from here. I mean, of the over 20-set, no one actually hails from the QC. So, the standard question when you meet someone is "Where are you from?" With the understanding that they are not actually gonna say they are from Charlotte.
Next on the list from the "getting to know you guidebook" if you're from Charlotte is: What church do you go to? This surprises a lot of people, but it's true. Everyone wants to know what church you go to. Apparently, it speaks volumes. Don't ask me. I'm not a frequent church-goer and this tends to stump people.
That second question changes, however, if you have young children. In this case, question number two is, "Where do your kids go to preschool?" In this situation, I have an answer. The Open Door School (ODS). I had a chance to interview the director of the school, Sheila Locklear. Here are her thoughts on progressive schooling at the preschool level.
Q: So, Sheila, where are you from?
A: Being full-blooded Lumbee Indian, I am from Lumberton, NC but lived in Baltimore before coming to Charlotte. I have been here about 25 years. I am a widow of a Native American Vietnam Veteran. I have two adult children, a girl and a boy, and three grandchildren, ages 19 years, 12 years, and 21 months. The 12 year old is an ODS alum.
Q: How long have you been with the Open Door School? Did you start as a teacher? How did you learn about Open Door?
A: I first learned about ODS when I was in the early childhood program at CPCC, and was a student of its founder, Sue Riley. I started at ODS as a lead teacher in Full Day in 1996. During my time here, I have been a state-certified model/mentor for CPCC students, as well as a "master teacher" here at ODS. A couple of years ago I left the classroom to serve as Open Door's Program Coordinator and shortly thereafter moved into the directorship of the school.
Q: What is a Progressive Preschool and why were you drawn to this methodology of teaching young children?
A: I was drawn to Progressive education because the curriculum respects children and follows their needs and interests. This approach allows children to learn from hands-on experience, which gives them a foundation for life with such skills as creative thinking, problem solving, conflict resolution, and self-discipline. On a professional level, this gave me the opportunity to grow and learn from a large group of mentors and professionals in the field.
Q: What type of child do you think best benefits from a Progressive Preschool?
A: I feel that Progressive Education can benefit all children, but since it nurtures the whole child, it requires that parents commit to embracing the philosophy at home as well. It is truly a lifestyle, not just an education choice.
Q: As the director of the school, do you get to engage with the children in the classroom?
A: Not only do I enjoy the opportunity to engage with children every day, but the Progressive philosophy lends itself towards such interactions. By being connected with each classroom, I become part of the community. I foster a relationship with each child, teacher, and family. One way I do this is by sharing my own culture through storytelling, drum playing, and singing in the classrooms, and also by being available for face-to-face encounters with parents and children throughout the day.
Q: Dealing with preschoolers, you probably need a pick-me-up to get you through your day. Whats in your cup?
A: I prefer unsweetened iced tea.
The Open Door School has openings for current enrollment. For more details visit the schools website or call the school directly at 704-364-1521