For Steve Adams, foundation is everything.
It’s a lesson he learned, quite literally, years ago while working with a builder at a job site.
In that builder’s straightforward approach – digging the foundation himself to ensure the structure rose up strong and solid – Steve found wisdom, a mantra, if you will, that has guided him throughout the years.
But it wasn’t until he stumbled into working with SOLA that he discovered the true meaning of that sage advice.
First as a van driver and mentor at SOLA – and now as the school’s owner and director – Steve has maintained a focus on foundation because he and the staff at SOLA believe they are not just preparing their students for school; they’re laying the groundwork for a happy, productive and inspired life.
As its name indicates, SOLA – School of Learning Arts – is abuzz with creativity, from the colorful sign on the front of the building and the murals in the hallways to the innovative curriculum and classrooms alive with stimulating discussions, inventive activities and impassioned art projects.
Whether it’s music or painting, playacting or sculpting, the arts are an essential building block for development, especially in early childhood, Steve said. Through creative expression, children learn to unlock their imaginations and tap into their emotions, to think critically and develop socially.
And it works.
Since opening in 2000 under artist, Montessori teacher and all-around “Super Mom” Kathy Alstrin, the colorful little schoolhouse off the quiet and tree-laden Pine Grove Drive in Wilmington, has grown into a thriving preschool that also boasts a wildly popular and highly regarded after-school program for elementary-aged children. In addition, SOLA offers a fun-filled summer camp with weekly themes like textiles, recycled art, face masks and printmaking.
Coming on board in 2005, Steve quickly found his passion and true calling and purchased SOLA a year later. Adding to the school’s visual appeal with new paint and an outdoor overhaul, Steve joined a team of dedicated and equally inspired teachers who continue Kathy’s mission today.
Intentionally small class sizes – typically eight students to one teacher in preschool - and a close connection to parents, SOLA staff treat each child like the individual he or she truly is. They strive to give students the respect and nurturing they need to have confidence to make choices and find and embrace their own unique voices.
And every day, in some way, there is art.
Led by art director Maya Murano Simonson, who has a degree in art education, students find hands-on ways to discover themselves, their peers and the world around them.
In the art room or on the playground – and in every space and moment in between - they are guided along the way by three simple rules, Steve’s own wisdom. It’s wisdom he hopes that, just as the common-sense advice of that builder many years ago stayed with him, will remain with students long after they grow up and beyond SOLA: Be kind, be gentle and be respectful. Once – and only when – you’ve approached life that way, you are bound to have a fun and find fulfillment.
Let SOLA help lay the creative foundation for your child’s life. SOLA is located at 216 Pine Grove Drive in Wilmington. Call them today at (910) 798-1700 for more information or to schedule a visit. Check out SOLA’s Facebook page for updates and photos.
Steve Adams is the owner and director of SOLA. Although his journey to SOLA was unexpected, he has always had a talent for mentoring kids and creative design. Since graduating from UNCW in 1992, he has spent 20 years coaching baseball, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee locally. He left a 12-year career in the art of landscaping in 2004 before leaving the field to pursue a career for which he was passionate. He began working at SOLA that year and purchased the school in 2006. Originally from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, Steve has a twin brother and a younger brother, and enjoys the outdoors, especially the mountains. Contact Steve at [email protected] or (910) 798-1700.
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