Preschool Questions? We Have Answers…



Do the children play all day, or do they have some “real learning” time?



All the materials in the classroom are there to teach, so when a child is building with blocks, he/she is learning math and physics. The Preschool At Country Day is a language rich environment, where the children and teachers carry on conversations throughout most of the day. Language games and counting games are a normal part of the day, and children are encouraged to use paper, markers, and scissors to exercise their creativity and their motor control. Children of different ability levels work on projects together to foster cooperation and shared learning.

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Why should my child learn another language? He/she is just learning English.


At the preschool age, children learn any language as if it were their native language, storing it in a different part of the brain. This helps develop an ear for the language that allows them to build on this base later in life. Learning another language helps children learn to listen and to understand English word usage. Because our student population is very diverse, we appreciate the opportunity to share another language and culture with all our children, enhancing their knowledge and understanding of the world they will live in. Besides, it’s lots of fun for all!

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How do you know what the children know?


Our staff are all highly trained observers and they are responsible for collecting samples of the work (or pictures of the child working) to document the child’s mastery of a skill or concept. Following nationally scaled guidelines, we are able to assess each child’s needs and, through scheduled conferences, plan and set goals for your child’s particular needs and gifts. The children are guided to choose more challenging work when they have gained the necessary basic skills. Each child is encouraged to work to the limits of his/her ability.

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What form of discipline do you use?


Our classrooms are very “child centered” so it is very easy for us to make simple rules which are not difficult for children to follow. When we do need to remind a child, we use time out. The child will be placed away from the activity and told the reason they have been put in time out. After a wait of approximately 1 minute per year of the child’s age, the teacher will return and ask the child why they are in time out. If the child is able to tell us, then they are allowed to return to the class; if not, we repeat the reason and have them tell us what we just said. This turns time out into a learning experience rather than punishment.

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How long has The Preschool At Country Day been in existence?


The Country Day School was begun in 1987 as an outgrowth of The Gifted Child School, established in 1981 and Morningstar Learning Center, established in 1970.

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What is the average tenure of the preschool staff?


The average length of time our staff has been with The Preschool At Country Day is six years, with some members of the staff at 8 to 17 years.

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Where do the preschoolers go from here? Do they all go to private schools and how do they do?


The children who do not stay on at the Country Day School go on to many different kinds of learning environments in the area and all over the country, and, in fact, the world. They leave for classrooms as diverse as our student population itself. Well over half of our children are placed on Honor Rolls in the schools they attend. They have no trouble adjusting to different situations, when the new situation values them as we have.

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What makes your program different from other preschools in the area?


Our preschool is the one of the few program in our area which has been accredited by Advanc-ED and Internationally by CITA. We are unique in that we are completely “individualized”, tailoring our program to fit the needs of each of our children and to grow with them. Our teaching techniques are inspired by the Preschool’s programs in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Our staff has participated in study tours in Italy and at other Reggio Schools in the US. We also offer foreign languages to our preschoolers, since this is the age research has indicated as optimum for learning another language. Our environment is very peaceful and homelike, making children feel comfortable and secure. We have a variety of animals on our campus: there are goats, cats and a fountain with fish and a turtle. Classrooms have aquariums and hermit crabs.

Because our preschool is very diverse, we are able to learn from each other about the many cultures which make up our world. Children share special traditions and holidays with the group, making them feel special and also a part of the “whole” preschool.

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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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