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Early Childhood

Early Childhood class sitting on the steps with their theachers

Harnessing children’s natural curiosity

Our youngest students love coming to a school where they can begin collaborating with others, expressing original ideas, solving problems, understanding themselves and discovering their abilities.

We strive to ensure the first formal learning experience for these three- and four-year-olds is meaningful, relevant, and joyful in a supportive and high achieving environment.

Our Early Childhood teachers apply their expertise to intermingle learning and play in the right balance. Lessons focused on learning the alphabet, numbers, plants and animals, days of the week are blended with Spanish lessons, art, music forays, and thoughtful library visits. 

“I have an open relationship with the teachers, so I know how my kids are doing and they are able to tell me.”

- Current EA Parent

Early Childhood teacher in the sand box with 3 students

"We take a hands-on approach to learning. We also incorporate activities for our children to build self-esteem, learn to problem solve and get along with others, and engage in rich discussions. We key into their natural curiosity and associate it to scientific practices. Our ultimate goal is for our students to develop an excitement for learning." 

- Amy Maly, Early Childhood Instructor

Meet Our Early Childhood Faculty & Staff

“We found some wonderful teachers who were caring, engaging, and personalized. You know those once-in-a-lifetime teachers you get? At EA, we got them multiple times.”

Parent of an EA Graduate

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Amy Criswell

Amy Criswell

Early Childhood & Lower School Director, PEAK Director
M Ed, University of New Hampshire
BA, University of New Hampshire

Truly amazing things occur at Elgin Academy because we work to ensure that our students feel known and have a sense of belonging and purpose. At EA, students learn and discover in an active environment built on partnership, respect, compassion, challenge, and integrity. When students feel safe to express their ideas, make mistakes, ask questions, and be creative, meaningful learning takes place and it's magical.
-Amy Criswell

Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown

Lower School Administrative Assistant, Health Associate, Development Associate
BS, St. Louis University

Being a part of the EA Community means being in a place where people genuinely care. We celebrate each other in our successes and support each other in our challenges. We come to this place not just because it is a job or it is our school, but because we truly believe in the experience that takes place on our campus.
-Jenn Brown

Helen Elayan

Helen Elayan

Director of Personalized Learning
MA, Adler School of Professional Psychology
BA, DePaul University

My philosophy as a school counselor is the belief that every student can succeed. Learning is a lifelong process and I want to help students foster a positive self-image all in collaboration with the school, home, and community. My goal as the school counselor at EA is to provide a safe place for all students and to address every student's intellectual, emotional, and social needs.
-Helen Elayan

Amy Maly

Amy Maly

Early Childhood Teacher
BS, Illinois State University

Each day I commit to challenging the children to grow and do so in a fashion that considers where each child is developmentally. By personalizing my interactions and facilitating opportunities for that growth to take place, I am delighted when they emerge into the young person that exemplifies their "true self".
-Amy Maly