New eco-friendly preschool opening in Port Royal + video

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comJuly 8, 2014 

A new preschool opening in Port Royal in August hopes an apple a day will keep the children at play and their minds from decay.

But not just any apple, a savvy apple.

Serving students between 12 months old and kindergarten age, the Savvy Apple Preschool plans to offer a new type of education to Beaufort County, founder and director Mindy Farris said.

It will focus on eco-friendly practices and materials, integrate the environment into its curriculum, and take a hands-on learning approach.

"The Savvy Apple name does represent our school because it is a different name and not a traditional or normal approach," said Farris, who has taught in the Beaufort County School District for several years. "That is a lot like us, because we are a little different and creative and fun."

The school will have a capacity of about 50 students and three different levels of mixed-age classrooms: seedlings, little sprouts and big sprouts. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for parents who work and will operate year-round.

Tuition for full-time students will be $170 per week. The Savvy Apple will also have two part-time options: Tuesdays and Thursdays for $90 a week or Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for $110 each week.

Farris said about half of the school's spots are filled, but she hopes an open house Thursday will let more parents know about the school.

Farris and her husband, Matt, decided to open the Savvy Apple because they wanted a different preschool option for their children.

The school will serve all organic food and use natural cleaning products, Farris said. The building has also been renovated with environmentally friendly and recycled materials.

More than just using such products, Farris said, teachers will incorporate these ideals into their instruction. For example, students will recycle and tend a garden to demonstrate the importance of protecting the environment.

The curriculum will be based on the state's early childhood standards, Farris said, but teachers will allow students to explore what interests them.

She said they are not concerned with the school district's plans to expand its pre-kindergarten, because families need a variety of services and having more preschool choices will benefit the community.

"Coming from the school district, I see what a lot of kids are lacking when they come in in those early grades," Farris said. "I have always thought every child should have the opportunity to go to preschool."

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