Amy Baker, Program Director at Old Firehouse School in Mill Valley since 2007, started her career working in art and museum education. In 1992, she encountered the now world-famous schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy and became fascinated by the ways they valued the expressive arts and fine art materials as a means for understanding the cognitive development of very young children. That was it – in a flash she knew she had found her calling!
Amy returned to school and earned a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, including an in-depth professional growth for Amy as a teacher, director, and entrepreneur.
Her research included a unique year-long apprenticeship working in the preschools and infant/toddler centers of Pistoia, Italy. Upon graduation in 1998, Amy accepted her dream job as a teacher with a group of young toddlers at Nonotuck Community Child Care Center in Massachusetts. She then moved to San Francisco, where she worked with preschoolers at The Little School in San Francisco.
In 2002, shortly after the birth of her son, Amy became part of a small group of parents who founded La Piccola Scuola Italiana, the Bay Area’s first Italian-language preschool. This was an immensely challenging and satisfying endeavor, rich with professional growth for Amy as teacher, director and entrepreneur! Amy was familiar with Old Firehouse School and its reputation for blending current developmental and pedagogical theory with real-life practice. An enthusiastic series of conversations with Executive Director Dorothy Stewart and the other OFS site directors led Amy to join the OFS community.
Since 1998, Amy has also worked as an early childhood education consultant, presenting at national and local conferences and providing customized preschool and infant/toddler center trainings. Her strong experience with the Reggio Approach and the relationship-based pedagogy developed in Pistoia, Italy form the foundation of her philosophy of teaching and of child development.