• Ettie Zaklos

Reflections from the Director

From the Desk of the Director

Exactly six years ago, in March 2011, I was excited and nervous to announce the official opening of Preschool of the Arts. At the time, Chabad of Naples had just secured our new home in a large building on Mandarin Road, after five years of working out of a rented store front on Seagate Drive. We were up against many challenges. Our facility needed major renovations and our playground was in dismal condition. Nevertheless, we set out to build our dream preschool from the ground up.

I have long had a passion for excellence in education and envisioned a school where children come first and there is recognition of the power of the early childhood years. We wanted to create a preschool like no other, inspired by the Reggio philosophy of self-directed learning, providing ample opportunities for both arts and academics, and bring it all together on a quality state-of-the-art campus with a beautiful renovated playground for the children to enjoy.

Our beginnings were humble, with just my own two daughters enrolled. But the community rallied around this idea and we put our heart and soul, as well as much sweat and tears, into making it a reality. We managed to completely remodel the building, furnish our classrooms and renovate the playground in just five whirlwind months from that first announcement. In August 2011, we opened our doors with 12 wonderful students enrolled. It felt like a dream come true, but little did I know that the dream was just getting started.

Over the years, Preschool of the Arts has blossomed into an award-winning early childhood center with a curriculum that has been acclaimed by educators and parents alike. We are proud to welcome over 100 children through our doors each day. Our enrollment has been filled to capacity, with a waitlist of those who are eager to join our growing community.

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve the Naples community and form lasting bonds with so many incredible children, parents and staff. My own children have outgrown our preschool and moved on, but the growing preschool family has become a part of my beloved extended family. Through it all, I still approach the operation and development of the preschool from a mother’s perspective and know that this is the education I would be thrilled to give my own children. The talented teachers, holistic curriculum and extensive resources are all part of a formula of excellence that we are proud to offer children during their most formative years. Not a day goes by that I do not thank G-d for giving me the opportunity and privilege to instill in these precious children a lifelong love of learning and set them on the path to future success.

Our school is still young, and we maintain that same excitement and passion we had at our infancy six years ago, with every new student seen as a treasure and a gift. But we have also had the time to watch our students go on to great success in their continued schooling based on the foundation we set. There is no feeling more rewarding than that!

As we look to the future, we hope to expand and enhance our exceptional school and continue our growth. From recently building a Children’s Marketplace to our hopes for a multi-media library, we have big dreams and from our experience we’ve learned that if we dare to dream big, those dreams may just come to fruition!

But we know that a dream is only a dream. It takes real people to make it happen. Teachers, Administrators, parents, generous supporters and friends. This is the community that made it happen and continues to make it happen. There is not a morning that I walk into school that I don’t feel overwhelmingly grateful to our talented administrative team for their unwavering commitment, the teachers for taking their role so seriously and to the parents for entrusting us with their most precious possessions. Together, we look forward to continuing to provide the best for the youngest members in our community.

I am humbled to share that we are almost at capacity for the coming fall, and are filling up our Summer of the Arts program fasters than ever before. Our dynamic six-week summer program gives our former students a chance to come back to their beloved school for an exceptional fun and educational summer experience. If you are interested in joining our amazing community and enrolling your child in our programs, don’t delay! We look forward to having you join the POTA family.

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