“Everybody can be great…because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our students are great because they serve others. We build on the graceful, lovable nature of young children to teach them how they can make a positive mark on their world. To do this, we created a unique community service component to our curriculum: Lend-a-Hand. As much as we emphasize looking inward, we also think it is important for children to look outward. Lend-a-Hand curriculum teaches preschoolers through first graders to act with empathy and lead by example. Preschoolers begin to identify others’ feelings and devise plans to help people in their communities – their families, friends, peers. As they enter kindergarten, our students are taught how to identify a pressing need in our community and plan a service project to address this need. Some of our students have helped our homeless population, created care packages for soldiers stationed abroad, and made fleece dog toys for a local animal shelter. Our students realize they can use their strengths and interests to make their world a better place. In that realization, they can always be of service; they are always valuable. Magical Journey students stamp our world with their unique fingerprints, as they become changemakers in their communities.
“The lens through which you view the world will greatly affect the quality of your life.” – Mike Sissel
Mike Sissel is a former elementary school teacher who brings over a decade of experience to our students through his KaleidoEye Coaching Program. He has tailored his programs to meet our unique early childhood needs here at Magical Journey. His belief that developing children’s distinct social and emotional needs leads to healthy, happy children matches our own. He works with all of our students to build a foundation of self- and social –awareness, self-management, and responsible decision making. These fundamental, but often overlooked, skills prepare our students to appropriately cope with modern day challenges such as peer pressure, bullying, and interpersonal conflicts. Mr. Sissel helps students see the greatness that lies within each of them.
¡Hola! ¿Cómo te llamas? Most of us know enough Spanish to say ‘hello’ and ‘What’s your name?’ Unfortunately, for somme of us, that might be the extent of our second language. While it might be difficult for us to learn a new language, it is a beautiful gift we can still give our children. At Magical Journey Learning Center, we take advantage of the fact that children’s brains are hard-wired to quickly acquire language. Accordingly, we have partnered with Los Niños Spanish School to incorporate Spanish weekly into our curriculum for all ages; three year olds through first graders sing, dance, and play to develop their second language skills. In addition to strengthening language skills, exposure to another language develops an awareness of other cultures. Our Spanish program serves as in important component to helping us cultivate global citizens.
Janet Collins, the director of Los Niños Spanish School, teaches our Spanish classes. She holds a Master’s degree in Spanish and has over 15 years experience teaching children. She has worked with Magical Journey since its inception. ¡Bienvenidos a todos los niños!
According to the Journal of Neuroscience, science has shown that when children learn to play music, their brains begin to hear and process sounds that they could not otherwise hear. Discerning between loud and soft, fast and slow, and high and low pitch, tunes the ear to the subtleties of sound. This translates into better literacy development; it is the subtlety of sound that differentiates the b from the d. To celebrate the joy of music, students will sing songs and learn musical patterns and rhythms through a variety of objects and instruments. Our music program also exposes children to different musical varieties, allowing children to discuss their feelings and how music evokes emotion. Students will be able to develop a greater appreciation for music, while learning the basics of reading music, becoming familiar with different musical instruments, and even learning some music history!
Jennifer Shields is an experienced teacher in both elementary education and music. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and has taught elementary school for six years. As she taught in the classroom, she incorporated music into her lessons to teach concepts, affect children's moods, and stimulate brain development. Jennifer's love of music began early, learning the piano at age five. As a music lover and a natural teacher, she began teaching piano to children in her neighborhood as a high school student! Jennifer's two passions - teaching and music - are a perfect fit for Magical Journey students.
Watching a baby try to grasp an object or a toddler’s wobbly steps, it is apparent they need to develop their gross motor skills. As children age and walk easily and begin to run and play, their gross development is not always the primary concern. Magical Journey fosters physical and motor development as an integral part of a child’s growth. To that end, movement is an integral part of our weekly enrichment program. Incorporating dance and yoga, children practice coordination, rhythm, and crossing the midline. Movements that go from one side of the body to another are necessary to throw a ball, but also heavily assist with academic skills such as reading and writing. Additionally, singing and dancing is just plain fun!
Leslie Swanson teaches our movement classes. A skilled dancer herself, she began her teaching career in 1995. She taught dance for sixteen years, showcasing many of her choreographed routines at national competitions. In 2007, she was asked to head the dance program at the YMCA in Ahwahtukee. Leslie has been specializing in young dancers, teaching at the YMCA, God’s Garden Child Development Center, and Magical Journey Learning Center.