La Piccola Scuola nel Parco – An Italian Cultural Experience

La Piccola Scuola nel Parco, San Jose, Italian language, italian culture, italian heritage, italian american, italian news, italian traditions

Sheila Johnson, Education Director at La Piccola Scuola nel Parco

 

As I have gotten older, I have felt the need to re-connect with so many aspects of my life. In 2009, I made a decision, and that was to come home.
 
In my heart, home has always been San Jose. After both of my parents passed away, I felt a pull toward this place of my birth. I also knew that I didn’t want to just go home-I wanted my “homecoming” to have meaning. I thought about what I wanted to do, and since I have worked with children and families for over twenty years-I knew that whatever I would do- it would have to include children and my “Italian-ness”.
 
That is how our amazing non-profit dual language Italian school was born. My cousin Angela Long called me at my home in Las Vegas, and told me of an emerging Little Italy in San Jose where century old Victorian buildings were available for lease. I flew home, toured the building she found, and within just a couple of months, an Italian school was born.
 
It took nearly a year to establish the school, and a lot of hard work-and yes, even a few, “Why did I ever think I could do this?” moments (days to be honest) but it all came together, just as it always does when following one’s heart.
 
Luckily the child care director from my school in Las Vegas (a dear friend) decided to come out and help start-up this school as director. Sheila Johnson has been an integral part of La Piccola Scuola nel Parco since day one.
 
My father was raised in this country by immigrant parents, who for many reasons (and I do understand them) felt that their children needed to assimilate fully in order to succeed. Being “American”, meant speaking English, and only English. Many other families felt the need to do this as well, so now there are generations of Italian-Americans who don’t speak a word of the most beautiful language on earth. We want to change this.
 
Our school exists to bring the Italian experience to children in the Bay Area. We are here to provide high quality child care of course, but our main impetus, is to provide high quality ITALIAN early care and education, to people of Italian descent who want and need more “Italy” in their daily lives.
 
This is not to say that we are open only to those with Italian surnames in their family tree. Any family with a love of Italian culture and language is welcome to join us on our daily journey. Enrolling children of other backgrounds helps us learn from them as well-the more we learn about one another’s culture, heritage, and belief system-the more we are able to be tolerant, kind and understanding human beings.
Everyone is welcome here.
 
Our new goal is to open a K through 5th grade by September 2015. It is never easy for us to have to say good-bye to children who must leave our early care environment to enter elementary school. When they go, they leave much of their “Italian” behind. This isn’t acceptable, or even fair to children. After they develop a love for all things Italian in our early education environment, they need to continue Italian cultural experiences in order to reinforce what they have learned.
 
We are currently working to obtain funding and support for a new school building and funding for educators. We will be asking for volunteers to join our development committee in order to make this dream a reality. I have no doubt that the Italian-American community will step up and help us keep our vision alive, by offering funding and support of our very Italian educational project.
 
Join us? For more information contact: Theresa Sabatino, 350 W Julian St, San Jose, CA 95110, (408) 298-4278, heartworkscares@earthlink.net.

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