By Susan Payne
Look out, Palisades: Two educators with more than 50 years combined experience are opening a new preschool that will prepare your little ones for success.
Eclipse School co-founders Beth Reilly and Shea Morris are bringing a fresh approach to the Los Angeles preschool landscape and are now accepting applications for school year 2022-23.
Eclipse School is a Transitional Kindergarten program that believes a child’s social and emotional growth requires direct teaching and guided practice. Students need to learn perseverance, the ability to solve problems, and to think for themselves. However, building foundational skills matters. Eclipse intertwines the academics and social emotional learning to create a program that is appropriate for each student’s developmental level.
“A lot of children who have outgrown their preschool aren’t ready for Kindergarten. We are bridging that gap through social-emotional learning and play, and it’s all married with the foundational skills they will need going into Kindergarten,” said Morris.
Transitional programs give children an extra year of focused curriculum before starting Kindergarten.
“What Kindergarten children are expected to do now is what first graders were doing 20 years ago. We know that for many children this can be hard. There’s a way to gently introduce material so it’s developmentally appropriate. We want children to leave us feeling confident, prepared, and ready for the challenges of Kindergarten,” Reilly said.
Reilly and Morris spent 14 years as friends and colleagues at a Palisades private school. Through conversations about child development and teaching philosophies, the two realized they wanted to do more together. In the spring of 2015, they started Eclipse Camp in Morris’ backyard.
“At camp there is a different theme each week. We do lots of art activities, play tons of games, and have fun. Last summer we had 10 weeks of camp and it was fabulous,” Reilly said. “We have wide age range and have students participate from a huge variety of schools.”
In March of 2020, the pandemic inspired them to do something more than summer camp.
“The pandemic helped propel us forward. We started exploring different options on how we could move Eclipse into a year round program,” Morris said.
Reilly and Morris left their jobs, even though leaving their fulltime teaching positions was incredibly hard. But family, friends, the school, and colleagues were supportive.
“It’s been my absolute pleasure to work with Beth and Shea for the past 15 years. The children who were in their charge for Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten were blessed with outstanding instruction in an emotionally nurturing environment. Watching them work together on children’s behalf was like being part of a beautiful dance with no missteps. Both Shea and Beth know how to teach. They meet children where they are and move them forward academically. One could not ask for more invested and excellent teachers. Rest assured your children are in good hands,” said a speech and language pathologist and colleague of Morris and Reilly.
Eclipse School has two indoor classrooms, an outdoor classroom, and play space. Reilly and Morris are currently teaching enrichment classes, running a Kindergarten readiness program, and focusing on opening the preschool in August of 2022. They will also continue summer camp starting in June.
To learn more, visit eclipseschool.org.