We are a warm and nurturing Reggio inspired preschool nestled in nature in the hills of Bel-Air, California.

Our location, context, and internal and external environments allow children to express their natural curiosity and need to explore. Our environments are carefully designed to inspire our children to collaboratively construct and evolve their theories and understanding of their world.

We reap the benefits and gifts of a small, tight knit community experience.

Our intimate-nature based environment allows for passion and inquiry to lead the investigations rather than large numbers. The small number of children makes certain that everyone is seen as a vital member of our community of learners.

“Education is not preparation for life education is life itself.”

– John Dewey

Laila is the founder and teacher at Synapse Atelier. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Loyola University Chicago and an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Certificate from Santa Monica College. Her journey in early childhood education began at Evergreen Community School where her daughters attended preschool.

As a parent at Evergreen, she attended forefront discussions on the Reggio Approach, Social Constructivism, and Progressive Education. Her passion to learn more about ECE, inspired her to volunteer with teachers, and then, to attend the Reggio Conference in Italy. What she discovered is the power of allowing young children to have a hand in molding their own learning yields confident learners who formulate and express their ideas connecting with peers. She witnessed that children learn a great deal in these contextual exchanges with peers, especially around investigating ideas in small groups which provide possibilities of focused attention, hearing and listening to each other, developing curiosity and interest, asking questions and responding to them with reflection thus developing skills and attitudes that are essential to the quality of life.

With this in mind, Laila sought to find an elementary school that valued the hands-on collaborative approach. As her daughters, transitioned to Westland School, a progressive school based on Dewey’s Philosophy, Laila continued to learn about ECE as the Chair of Parent Education Committee and later as Westland’s Board Member.

Her daughters continue to excel based on the solid foundation Progressive Education afforded them. Both are confident, curious learners that value multiple perspectives and respectful exchange of ideas, in-depth analysis and reflection, and working collaboratively to resolve challenges and promote positive change. After graduating from Marlborough and Archer School, they attended college to pursue their passions. One graduated from UC Berkeley and has a career in journalism and the other graduated from Wellesley and has a career in the tech industry.

From parent to ECE student, to ECE intern, to a teacher at Branches Atelier and The Growing Place, and now founder/teacher of Synapse Atelier, Laila has come full circle. Laila seeks to provide this amazing foundation for young children at Synapse Atelier. She seeks to inspire children to have a lifelong passion to learn and to think, reflect, communicate, exchange ideas, collaborate, and take social responsibility as a community of learners.

Exploring Nature


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We are now accepting applications for the 2025 – 2026 preschool year. For consideration, prospective families are invited to tour our preschool to learn more about our philosophy and submit an admission application before January 15, 2025.

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