Independent private school set to open in Palm Valley Aug. 10

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Collage Day School, a private learning institution in Palm Valley for infants through fifth grade, is set to open Aug. 10.

"There's some very unique philosophies associated with the school that we believe strongly in,” said Karen Rieley, the school’s marketing and admissions officer, responsible for the school’s website, marketing, community outreach, branding, communications and admissions efforts.

According to Rieley, Collage will provide students with a distinct academic environment through differentiated learning, a philosophy in which faculty and administration work individually with each student to maximize their strengths and grow their self-confidence. The school will also utilize the Reggio Emilia approach, a teaching framework based on the four components of the learning environment: the child, the teacher, the family being part of the learning process and the classroom itself.

"If a parent comes out to look at our classroom, the first thing the parent notices is we have very active looking classrooms," Rieley explained. "There's a lot of things going on in the classroom and a lot of elements of the classroom...that are there to encourage active learning. There is formal instruction but there's also a lot of opportunity for them to work individually and also in groups to really express themselves."

Another unique element of Collage, Rieley said, is the school's Timber Nook program, which will offer students the opportunity to learn outdoors and explore nature on an 8-acre campus featuring an organic garden, a music and art garden and a social area.

"There's a lot of activity outside that's far beyond just playing on the swing set," Rieley added.

Collage Day School’s curriculum will offer children the basics, such as math, science, language arts and reading. The difference, according to the school’s website, is its academic philosophy will teach students how to think, rather than what to think. That statement, Rieley noted, is not an indictment on the public-school system.

“It’s not an indictment at all,” she said. “It’s simply stating a philosophy that we’re really trying to hold our standard to, and we believe we’ve seen it be successful already, and we believe it will be a great environment to bring to the Palm Valley/Ponta Vedra Beach area.”

Rieley cited the growth of Nocatee and the surrounding communities as the main reason for opening Collage in Ponte Vedra. Additionally, she revealed that the school’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Katie Falwell lives in Ponte Vedra and has two young children.

“She knew the niche and the need within that niche, so this is a great way to educate her children as well as other children,” Rieley said.

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