Who We Are
Penola Casa is a private independent early childhood school in Wavell Heights. We welcome a small community of 70-85 children and their families every day from 6 weeks of age through to school entry, with an approved kindergarten program.
We are a Reggio Emilia-inspired educational facility, and our centre incorporates 4 classrooms as well as several community spaces designed for shared learning.
Penola Casa is a sister centre to Mollys House located in Kedron, a small centre providing care for 35 children each day. Mollys House is where the commitment to the Project of Reggio Emilia was born and researched. Now with greater space at Penola Casa, this philosophy can be extended and is able to flourish. Whilst Penola Casa has capacity to accommodate more children, the focus at both centres is always to maintain quality relationships through low carer to child ratios.
We aim to provide a “home away from home” for children, and our approach is guided by the philosophy of “small, intimate, family orientated and personal.”
We believe through building strong, connected relationships with each other, children are able to trust in their vast potential.
We believe that early childhood is a vital time when children begin to establish themselves as part of community and find out who they are and where they fit. As such, this is a crucial time for the child to feel good about themselves, experience success and have an environment that is responsive and challenging. Now is the time when they begin to reach decisions about who they are – decisions that will guide them through life.
We acknowledge the great responsibility we have as carers of young children.
Our image of a child is “that of a competent, curious and capable being that is able to construct knowledge in a world that is meaningful to them,” (Malaguzzi).
“It is through others that we develop into ourselves.” (Vygotsky)
About Our Educators
At Penola Casa, we understand that branching out socially from the family home can be an uncertain time. Our approach strives to foster your child’s connection to family while offering an expanded and yet safe and secure social world. We think of it not as letting go of your hand, as much as opening the other to new experiences. We have assembled a team of likeminded, experienced and yet diverse educators to implement our programs and connect with you and your child. All staff meet the DET qualification and requirements – however to us, passion is the key. We aim to bring a team that reflects and celebrates diversity.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce myself as the owner of Penola Casa. Every beginning has a story behind it. I have been working with young children since 1993 on the North side of Brisbane. I have had the privilege to own and work alongside some fabulous educators at Casia House (2003- sold 2010) and Mollys House (2007 – current) where I have been inspired by them to continue our growth as co learners with children. I believe there is never a “means to an end” – just continued growth. After a visit to Reggio Emilia in Italy the inspiration and vison became a reality having the opportunity to purchase the Sisters of St Joseph’s Nursing Home. The selection of this site pays homage to the philosophy of giving new life and identity whilst still reflecting history (See Mollys House) (See History of Penola Casa). By way of my back ground I have lived in the area since 1989 and had my family here. I am a “hands on” owner holding a Master’s In Education who loves to escape the paper trail and immerse oneself in the co-research of learning with the child – they never cease to amaze and I feel privileged that you would consider our space for your child.
The History of Penola Casa
Penola Casa is built on the original Sisters of St Joseph’s Penola Nursing Home site, opened in the early 1970’s and relocated to Nundah in 2012. The keeping of ‘Penola’ reflects the homage to the buildings origin and the name “casa” brings links to the Italian approach we follow. This site, like Mollys house has been carefully selected to reflect the significance of the environment as a teacher. A “third teacher” of history, of empathy, of respect, of life that was before them and will be after them. We see our school as “a home away from home”. In keeping with the philosophy of Reggio Emilia, the centre pays respect to the original building as best structurally able. Old meets new throughout the all spaces at Penola Casa. Children will encounter remnants of the original building and artefacts from the nursing home both inside and out. Parts of a life that once was. They are invited to live within, act upon and breathe new life into this space.
See some original images of the site, and the transformation of the building as it took shape, via our Facebook Page.
About our Logo
Our philosophy has been the foundation for the design of our logo – living and playing together as a community. The piazza represents the meeting point of the entire school – the four groups coming together…
The tuckeroo tree in the centre of the piazza, a hardy native of Australia hears all the sounds of a day and provides respite in its shade. The semblance of a cross within the symbol of the tree pays homage to the origins of the building – the Sisters of St Joseph Nursing home.
About the Project of Reggio Emilia
The Reggio Emilia educational approach was developed after World War II by psychologist Loris Malaguzzi together with the community of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Parents in the communities of Reggio recognised that childhood was key to development. They wanted to see a new kind of school where children were at the centre of their own learning and the community was there to participate in and support it. Reggio sees all children are seen as having great potential, capable co-constructors of knowledge in a connected, relationship-based environment and unique community. There is no ‘uniform’ Reggio centre, and no two Reggio-inspired schools will be the same. The essence of the principles of Reggio are adapted and responsive to every community and the space it inhabits.