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From Roxy’s Mailbag: The Cottage Schools Open Doors to Grades Pre-K through 4th Grade in Bernardsville, New Jersey

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Dear Roxy,
I’m also a local mom (in Gladstone) and have read through portions of your blog - lots of fun commentary. I think it would be an ideal place to post information about a new Pre-K to 4th Grade school opening in Bernardsville, New Jersey. You may be familiar with the Cottage School in Peapack-Gladstone. Both of my children attend that school and love it. This additional school in Bernardsville is run by the same director (Laura Soulages) and is held in the St. Bernards Episcopal Church in Bernardsville. It is the location of a former Little Lamb program there. Please let me know if it is something you might add to your Bernardsville section of the blog.

Amy Dietrich
Gladstone, NJ

Dear Amy:
Since London and Maddie attend Mendham Township Elementary School and none of the other Roxiticus Desperate Offspring have any experience with The Cottage Schools, we can’t offer you the Roxiticus Desperate Housekeeping Seal of Approval, but are happy to introduce The Cottage Schools and the new Pre-K through 4th Grade addition to our loyal readers…if you’re a mom in the Greater Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, Bernardsville, Chester, Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone, Bedminster) and you’d like to learn more about The Cottage Schools in Gladstone and Bernardsville, New Jersey, you’ll find the press release in its entirety below:

The Cottage Schools Open Doors in Bernardsville to Grades Pre-K to 4
Cottage Elementary School Offers Alternative Educational Programs

Beginning in September 2008, The Cottage Elementary School will open at 88 Claremont Rd. (St. Bernard’s Episcopal Church), offering a unique and alternative educational program for grades K-4. The Cottage Elementary School expands upon the well-established early childhood education program of The Cottage School, LLC, which continues to offer its programs in Gladstone, with additional pre-K enrollment available in Bernardsville.

The Cottage Elementary School’s academic program integrates the traditional subject areas of language and literature, mathematics, social studies, natural sciences, fine arts and physical education in a cooperative, non-competitive environment, teaching by immersion without the use of textbooks or tests.

Using the educational philosophy of The Cottage School, the School fosters a unique environment for learning by:
• expecting the best that each child can offer, not in comparison to the group;
• encouraging children to discover, explore, and develop their innate abilities;
• supporting creativity in all activities and subject areas;
• inspiring expression, curiosity, and imagination;
• allowing ample time for children to focus, create, and fully develop the project at hand;
• using an open classroom model;
• rotating teacher assignments to model community support and provide opportunities for teachers and students alike to stretch beyond their comfort zones;
• using natural materials and hand-made teaching tools;
• hearing and telling traditional tales from around the world;
• reading and reciting poetry;
• reading classic literature;
• immersing children in foreign language as an integral part of the curriculum;
• dancing and participating in drama and music;
• visiting museums, farms, libraries, and other workplaces;
• participating in community service projects, building responsible citizenship.

Ashley McNeill-Pohle serves as director of The Cottage Elementary School in Bernardsville, and contributes experience from The Cottage School community where she teaches French and has been engaged since its inception in 2002. A long-time resident of the region, McNeill-Pohle is a home-schooling mother of two, has been actively involved in a charter school community, has taught ballet, and held positions in market research, data systems and statistical programming. She holds a B.A. in Applied Mathematics and French from Goucher College.

The Cottage Schools are based on the teaching experience of the School’s founder and principal, Laura Soulages, as well as the training and philosophy of the Argentinean teachers college known as Instituto Superior Roberto Themis Speroni, of which Ms. Soulages is a graduate. Ms. Soulages successfully brought the program to New Jersey where, in 2002, she began her vision for the school in the form of The Cottage School. That vision included that one day the school would extend the offer of alternative education to elementary and, eventually, higher grades.

“At The Cottage Schools, teachers are committed to doing research and studying from original material, thus inspiring students to do the same and go deeper in knowledge. Great importance is placed on the learning process to develop patterns of learning; free of pressure and sustained by a spirit of discovery. When adults are too concentrated on results, children and teachers alike lose the joy of learning and teaching,” said Laura Soulages regarding the school’s emphasis on learning in an alternative environment. “The expansion of the school through 4th grade is the continuation of my life-long mission to guide children to develop and keep alive a desire of learning that will, in turn, last them a lifetime. Given Ashley McNeill-Pohle’s history with the school, refined educational experience and administration skills, I am confident she can fulfill The Cottage Elementary School experience in Bernardsville.”

Initial enrollment is offered to all applicants on a first-come, first-served, non-selective basis. Enrollment continues year-round with priority given to current students and their siblings. The Cottage Elementary School does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender or national origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. The school is graciously welcoming tax-deductible contributions.

About The Cottage Schools
Registration materials for the 2008-2009 school year are available now. To find out more about the schools’ unique, well-established early childhood and elementary education programs, please call (908)766-4418 or e-mail

Media contact:
Amy Dietrich

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