Penboscot Bay Press Compass Logo

Penobscot Bay Press
Community Information Services

News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 13, 2018
New preschool encourages child centered learning
The Fiddlehead School opens in Deer Isle

A mom and her daughter

Cayce Gray is the owner of The Fiddlehead School, a new preschool in Deer Isle. Her daughter Beaux, pictured, is attending her mom’s school.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Monique Labbe

The Fiddlehead School, under the direction of Cayce Gray, is the island’s newest preschool, opening this fall.

Housed at 39 Reach Road, Gray’s school shares space with Explorations Learning Center, which is operated by Torri Weed Robbins. The two schools not only share the same space, but also the same philosophy when it comes to educating young minds.

“The main philosophy is that the education is based on the children’s learning, not the teacher’s teaching,” said Gray. “Toddlers are much more competent than we give them credit for, and when you allow them independence in their learning, it’s amazing what they can do.”

Gray said that one of the most important ways education at The Fiddlehead School will happen is through play, both indoors and outdoors.

“Outdoor play is incredibly important,” said Gray. “We will go out in all kinds of weather. Playing in the snow, splashing in the mud, learning through nature, is all a part of educating a young kid. Especially in a world of technology, it’s important to get them outside.”

Other learning techniques students will engage in are free play, guided play, fine and gross motor development, cooking and baking, care of self and others, emotional understanding, letter and number work and self directed activities, among others.

Though the school is not a Montessori school, many of the Montessori schools of thought will be implemented, including freedom within limits and hands-on material experiences.

“When I had my children, I decided I wanted to take on the Montessori way of parenting; so when I started thinking about opening a preschool, I knew that was the philosophy I wanted to take,” said Gray.

Gray has been a stay at home mom for the last seven years, raising her two children, Jasper, age 7, and Beaux, age 4, while her husband Bennett worked. She said she is excited, if not a little nervous, to get back into the workforce, especially since Beaux will be part of The Fiddlehead School.

“I have worked with children all my life, starting at the age of 16 at a local daycare,” said Gray, who grew up in Massachusetts. “I love the excitement toddlers have, and watching them learn their independence.”

The Fiddlehead School hours are 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Thursday, for children who turn 3 by the end of the year, to age 5. The limit is six students, and Gray said she has two spots left for the first half of the school year. The first day of school was September 12.