Ms. Sharon returns

Sharon Cowley’s exceptionally successful preschool programs live and breathe by a single set of rules.

“The safety rules — the ones that keep us safe — they don’t change. But the adult rules — the ones put in to keep the teacher’s sanity — those can change. I always tell my kids ‘give me a good argument,’” she says.

“Kids come out of my school as great little lawyers.”

After her hugely popular On School Road preschool program was shut down in late 2013, the preschool teacher has been searching for a suitable location to open a new center. Just as she was about to give up, one of her student’s parents found the perfect spot at 463 Danbury Road.

Now, three months after finding the location, “Ms. Sharon” is preparing to open her Create Learning Center on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Ms. Cowley said the past three months have been filled with preparations for her next journey.

“It’s been an interesting haul, and I’m excited. I only found this place three months ago. It’s been a fast and furious process,” Ms. Cowley said.

For those parents interested in sending children to Create, Ms. Cowley is hosting an open house on Saturday Aug. 23, from 10 to 1. At the open house, parents will have a chance to glimpse the school’s progressive curriculum.

In just a single conversation with Ms. Cowley, it is evident she is passionate about her school and her students. With 17 years in the field, she’s long since crafted a style of teaching that is powerful and undeniably her own.

“I want kids to see and have every exposure,” the preschool owner said at her school last week. “I love parts of Montessori schools, but not every mindset is right for every child every time.

“I also want to provide a safe space for them to fail. If I can give them a long rope, and let them figure it out, it makes such a better person out of them,” she said. “It makes for incredibly independent, self-assured kids.”

In terms of conflict settlement in the classroom, Ms. Cowley leaves much of the discussion to her students.

“The person who has the first voice in whatever conflict has happened is the victim,” she said. “Then I go out to the peanut gallery. I want them to stand up and speak out for their friend. I also want to give them freedom to find a solution. They should take good care of themselves and other people.”

The preschool itself is licensed to take children ages 18 months  to five years, and there is a certified teacher in every room. Parents may choose which age group their children will participate in depending on whether the child will be “held back” or not.

In addition, parents pick their children’s schedule, whether they attend once or five times a week. Each school day has a different cost, something Ms. Cowley calls “du jour” pricing.

Ms. Cowley will also host an after-school art program for children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

If there’s any set of words that most sum up Create’s mission and philosophy, it’s Ms. Sharon’s last words during a Bulletin interview last week:

“We can make anything work.”