Introducing TerraNichol Academy of the Arts – Editor’s Note: We spoke with Terra Tominelli, the founder of TerraNichol Academy of the Arts Preschool based in Englewood. Learn more at TerraNichol.com; call 941-474-3000.
What makes your preschool an academy of arts and why is creativity important to learning?
The visual and performing arts in our curriculum provides children an outlet to express their thoughts and feelings while exploring their creativity. Over 20 years of teaching has shown me the importance of creativity in learning. This involves asking open ended questions, small group collaboration, using our imagination, and the joy of exploring.
What’s the essence of the Reggio Emilia approach?
It’s the partnership between teacher, parent(s) and students. Our role as adults is to observe, listen and find what interests the children. We then provide them with opportunities to explore their interests further. Children construct positive learning patterns through positive interactions with others.
What are some of the programs available to your students?
Our week begins with yoga, warm tea and art appreciation in the art studio. We also experience music workshops, drama, creative dance, gardening, nutrition, Zumba, and culinary arts.
Why is it important to rethink the meaning of education?
We help our children achieve their full potential when teachers, parents and our community are united in rethinking, reimagining, reinventing, and remaining innovative.
How do you focus on teaching sustainability?
We have a waste free campus and lunch program that involves composting lunch scraps for our community garden and worm farm. The children and families demonstrate a strong commitment to recycling, reducing, and upcycling projects.
Where are you originally from and what was the inspiration for creating your school?
I’m from Colorado and I moved to Florida in the early 80’s. Most of my family members had careers in education. My son was my inspiration for developing the school. He was enrolled in a performing arts elementary school and high school where he thrived.
Terra, what do you love about your work?
I love seeing our students master skills, make progress, and reach various goals through the school year. It’s deeply rewarding to see our alumni students making a difference by using the skills they learned at our school.
What are some of your plans moving forward?
We would like to develop The Children’s Urban Garden as an educational nonprofit to host field trips and workshops focused on organic farming, sustainability, farm animals, and related topics. We also envision a whimsical and enchanting playscape area next to our school.