The Preschool at Country Day Curriculum

Preschool Curriculum Goals

Our curriculum encourages children to be actively involved in the learning process, to experience a variety of developmentally appropriate activities and materials and to pursue their own interest in the school life, the broader community and the world.


Preschool Curriculum Rationale

The curriculum is not just the goals of the program and the planned activities but also the daily schedule, the availability and use of materials, transitions between activities and the way in which routine tasks of living are implemented. Criteria for curriculum implementation reflect the knowledge that young children learn through active manipulation of the environment and concrete experiences which contribute to concept development.


The Reggio Emilia Approach

The Preschool at CDS is child originated and teacher framed. Hailed as the world’s best model of early childhood education (Newsweek, 1991), the Reggio Emilia approach to education creates conditions for learning that enhance and facilitate children’s construction of “his or her own powers of thinking through the synthesis of all the expressive, communicative and cognitive knowledge” ( 1993). The Reggio approach gives children a very enriched and beautiful environment. The teachers listen to and observe the children and pose questions so they can research and learn new things. The approach requires children to be seen as competent, resourceful, imaginative and inventive and to possess a desire to interact and communicate with others. Our staff has trained in Italy and at numerous seminars around the U.S. . The Country Day school is the only Reggio Preschool in North Alabama.

For more information about the Reggio Emilia Approach can visit the following websites:



Language development is enhanced through:

  • verbally communicating and listening to others
  • role playing and dramatic play
    listening to music and singing songs
  • beginning to identify meaningful words – own name, etc.
  • listening to tape-recorded stories along with the books
  • making books and dictating stories for adults to write


Math skills are being formed while children play. These activities involve:

  • shapes, sizes, patterns, and
  • sequencing
  • sorting and categorizing
  • counting and comparison
  • measuring length and weight
  • graphing

Science concepts are developed by:

  • observing seasonal changes related to weather, plant life, animal behavior, and activities of people
  • sorting and categorizing items according to various properties
  • hiking the trails to observe plant and animal life and collect bugs and other small creatures for temporary
  • observation
  • learning basic conservation of and respect for nature
  • growing plants from seeds and bulbs and observing and caring for them
  • discovering how magnets work

Social studies concepts are introduced by:

  • learning about similarities and differences in peers and their families
  • exploring the community on field trips and learning about occupations
  • sharing family traditions
  • experiencing a variety of multi-cultural customs
  • learning how people who have disabilities experience life
  • role-playing about families and occupations

Motor Skills

Play time uses open spaces and equipment to build large and small motor development with:

  • climbers, trikes, wagons, bean bags
  • balls to kick and throw, sand to scoop and pour
  • bubbles, sidewalk chalk, painting at easel
  • simple games and sport skills
  • hiking and exploring the campus
  • movement to music

Other capabilities are developed and integrated throughout the curriculum: Building self-esteem, Communication, Planning, Responsibility, Problem-solving, Participation, Following directions, Imagination, and Sharing.


Creative Art

Art experiences emphasize the process rather than the product. Time, space, and the freedom to work independently help children increase their attention span, improve fine motor skills, have a successful emotional experience, and a sense of independence. Art activities include:

  • drawing with crayons, pencils, chalk, markers
  • painting with brushes, feathers, sponges
  • printing with rubber stamps, potato shapes, utensils
  • cutting and gluing
  • sewing with plastic needles and yarn on various materials
  • creating collages from any combination of fabrics, pictures, 3-dimensional items, etc.

Preschool Library Program

Preschool has a designated library time on Thursday mornings, when they come as a group to read a poem, a story and look at books. The preschool book bag program allows these students to borrow a book and manipulative for home reading. In the event that a parent wants additional reading material, they are welcome to come by with their preschooler and check out additional books.


Our Founders

Candy Ortega, her husband, Roberto and a group of investors and educators founded KLA Schools in 2008. They opened the first KLA School in Miami, FL, in 2008 and began franchising in 2010. For Roberto and Candy, the desire to provide an inspiring curriculum, a nurturing environment, and high quality education to pre-school students across America was deeply rooted.

Roberto, KLA Schools' CEO, inherited his passion for education from his grandfather who opened two schools of his own in South America. Candy, KLA Schools' Educational Director, grew up in Argentina and Brazil and came to the US in 1994. She earned an Associate’s degree in Child Development and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, and began her educational career as a pre-school teacher at a Reggio Emilia inspired school.

Candy and Roberto have attended several Reggio Emilia conferences and study groups in the US and internationally. Additionally, they have participated in the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference (NAEYC) in Chicago 2009, Anaheim 2011, Orlando 2011, and they have attended the 4th North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) Summer Conference Boulder, Colorado 2008, the 6th NAREA Summer Conference Chicago, Illinois, 7th NAREA Summer Conference Pacific Grove, California, 3rd NAREA Winter Conference Mountain View, California and the 11th NAREA Summer Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico among others.

Leadership Team

Roberto Ortega

President & CEO

Roberto Ortega is the founder and President of KLA Schools, where he is responsible for the development, operations and oversight of multiple high-performing preschools in the U.S. His scope of work encompasses the growth of the franchise arm of the company as well as the pool of corporate owned locations. Under his leadership, he manages a team of executives and educators with a passion for providing high-quality early childhood education.

Mr. Ortega inherited his passion for education from his grandfather who opened two K-12 schools of his own in South America. Together with his wife they wanted to create an impact in society by providing a quality early childhood education program. They knew the key was to have a curriculum suited for the 21st century and they selected the Reggio Emilia Approach hailed by Newsweek magazine as the best in the world.

Candy Ortega

Pedagogical Director

Mrs. Candelaria Ortega is the co-founder of KLA Schools. She has been the Director of the first school since the company opened in 2008. Mrs. Ortega became the Pedagogical Director of the KLA School Franchise in 2010 to support the corporate owned and franchise centers. As the Pedagogical Director of KLA Schools, Mrs. Ortega supervises the development and implementation of the philosophy and curriculum of KLA Schools. She is also responsible for the continuous improvement of the curriculum and professional development initiatives.

Mrs. Ortega and her team provide the necessary tools and materials to ensure that the students are getting a quality early childhood education program. Mrs. Ortega is the company spokesperson on education and child-related topics.

Claudia Chaustre
Director of Professional Development

Claudia Chaustre has 15 years of experience in the learning and practice of the Reggio Emilia approach to education. She was part of L’Atelier School - Miami’s first Reggio Emilia inspired preschool - for 14 years. Throughout this time she was a teacher in the different age groups (0 to 5), a Pedagogical Coordinator, and a Co-Director. Her relationship with KLA Schools started in 2008, by being their consultant during their first years through L’Atelier school. She joined KLA Schools in January 2015 as a full-time Pedagogical Consultant. Her role is to visit the schools periodically to provide pedagogical support in the ReggioEmilia approach.

Dana Grimes
Director of Finance

Ms. Dana Grimes has been in charge of the Accounting and Finance department of the KLA Schools Affiliates since 2008, and has served as our Director of Finance since November 2008. Mrs. Grimes has more than 15 years of experience in accounting and finance. She has worked in the public and private sector since 2001. She has an Associate’s Degree in Accounting from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Florida International University. She provides our staff and franchisees with training and support in the areas of Accounting and Finance. She holds these positions in our corporate office in Miami, Florida.

Adriana Lamas Ortega
Director of Admissions

A Miami native, Ms. Ortega has served as our Admissions Director since June 2013. Prior to that, she was a teacher for a KLA Schools Affiliate from August 2011 to June 2013. Ms. Ortega earned a Bachelors of Psychology from University of Miami in 2010 and has held these positions in our corporate office in Miami, Florida.

Jose Loor
Director of Marketing

Jose Loor has held the position of Director of Marketing and the Director of Marking of the KLA Schools Affiliates since April 2013. Prior to that, he was the Operations Manager of the KLA Schools Affiliates from January 2010 to April 2013. He has help these positions in our corporate office in Miami, FL. Mr. Loor has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Miami and a Master of Business Administration from Universidad Complutese de Madrid, Spain.

Gillian Gavurin
Director of Operations

Gillian Gavurin has worked for the KLA Schools Affiliates since August 2013. She started her career as a teacher for preschool children. After participating in projects throughout the school year of 2014-2015 with the marketing department, she became Assistant Director of Marketing in June 2015 and was later promoted to Director of Operations. She has been working in the education field since 2005, received her Bachelors Degree in Special Education in 2008 from Boston University and a dual Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Touro College in New York City in 2010. She currently holds her position at our corporate office in Miami, Florida.

Maria Jose Morla
Director of Branding

Maria Jose Morla works for the KLA Schools Affiliates as the Director of Branding. She oversees marketing and advertising activities to ensure the right message is delivered among schools. Maria Jose received her Bachelor’s Degree in Science in Communications with a Major in Advertising from Florida International University in 2009 and a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communication from Emerson College in 2017. She holds her position at our corporate offices in Miami, Florida.

Magdalena Castro
Pedagogical Consultant

Magdalena Castro has worked for the KLA Schools Affiliates since 2008, before the first school was opened. She started her career as a teacher at KLA Schools of Brickell in the Class of the 2’s, Class of the 3’s, Class of the 4’s and Kindergarten. She later became the Co-Director for that school and served as the Pedagogical Consultant for the schools in Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines and Aventura. Following that she was named the Director of KLA Schools of Aventura. In 2016, Ms. Castro stepped down from her School Director position and now serves as the Pedagogical Consultant for all the KLA Schools across the nation.

Raquel Roa 
Assistant Director of Professional Development

Raquel Roa has 15 years of experience working with children, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Catholic University Andrés Bello and a Minor degree in Early Childhood Education from Metropolitan University in Caracas, Venezuela. She worked for KLA Schools in Doral as a teacher from 2012 to 2015. In November 2017, she became the Assistant Director of Professional Development, where she oversees the pedagogical development. She holds her position at our corporate offices in Miami, Florida.

Over her career, her passion is being surrounded by children, she is a promoter and defender of children’s rights, she firmly believes in them and thinks that if we provide an education of quality we will have a better world because they are the future of our humanity.

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