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Learning through non-traditional means

Reggio-Emilia Inspired

The Reggio-Emilia Approach began in the Municipal Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and has inspired other schools all over the world. It is based on the principles of respect, responsibility and community. It emphasizes exploration and discovery in a supportive enriching environment based on the interests of children. In this approach children provide the direction of their learning and have many ways and opportunities to express themselves. Parents are also a key component and are viewed as important partners and collaborators.

Outdoor Education

At Journey School Lynnwood we believe that quality education includes daily opportunities to connect with nature. As a partial outdoor school, we model this approach on the Forest School approach, which views the outdoors as a secondary classroom. As such are outside every day no matter the weather. This approach originates from Forest School in Germany, which have  Hands-on experiences in nature offers many ways to support young children's creativity and problem-solving skills, as well as enhancing children's cognitive abilities, social relations and self-control. These are life-long skills, which help build happy, healthy children.

Compassion, Consciousness & Awareness

Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your heart for love. At JSL we embrace a resilient and growth mindset by giving our children the opportunity to solve problems on their own. Developing these skills and resolving challenges in the face of adversity or frustration can cultivate empathy, mental flexibility, self-awareness, self-regulation and conflict resolution skills, which together is known as “emotional intelligence.”

Conscious Discipline

Conscious Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey is our holistic classroom management philosophy based on up-to-date research and developmentally appropriate care. Self-management isn't just for children, it's for their important grown-ups as well!  To read more about the CD approach, click here​.

Meet the Owners

Andrea & Matt Kolacz

Kolacz family pic.jpg

Andrea Kolacz is the Co-Owner of JSL with her husband, Matt Kolacz.

At Journey, Andrea (Dre or Drea) drives the vision and runs the days to day working with the Children, Families, Teachers and Volunteers to build a connected and supportive community, where each child and family is valued for who they are, personality, quirks and all! Andrea’s passion is connecting with the kids and families as well as getting the kids outside, connecting with nature and learning about the world around them. Her goal is to build a supportive, diverse, exciting environment that allows our kids and their families to flourish, grow and learn while being apart of a connected, involved community.

Andrea believes that by building strong, resilient and capable children and families now, JSL is setting the stage for any possibility for their future. This is not only a personal passion of hers, but it has also been the focus of her educational background and professional training. 

Andrea has a long history in the social work field. Having had the opportunity to work in a variety of service settings, she developed a unique view and approach to Early Childhood Education. From providing direct services to community development to addressing homelessness, mental health, chemical dependency and poverty related issues, she saw the challenges and struggles children and families faced on a regular basis across all walks of life. Most recently before transitioning to ECE, Andrea did valuable advocacy work and community organizing at the local, state and national level on policy and funding-related issues for social services. Most notably, she and a colleague conducted a research study, looking at the local needs within Snohomish County for families living in poverty working toward self-sufficiency. This work helped drive a public-private funding partnership with Building Changes and the Gate’s Foundation to create significant changes in the way social services were provided to better meet the individual or family’s needs.

It is from this work and these experiences, that gives her the drive and motivation as well as desire, to create an inclusive, supportive environment that helps set the foundation for children to develop their natural skills to cope with life’s demands, no matter what comes their way. At JSL we embrace a resilient and growth mindset by giving our children the opportunity to solve problems on their own. Developing these skills and resolving challenges in the face of frustration can cultivate empathy, flexibility, self-awareness, self-regulation and conflict resolution skills, which together is known as “emotional intelligence.”

Andrea is a Master’s level clinical social worker, who studied with an emphasis on individual, family and systems work.  Andrea holds a Bachelor's degree in social work with a minor in psychology from the University of Portland as well as a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington.

The other half of this partnership is Matt, who heads JSL's operations and conducts much of the behind the scenes work that helps keep the school running smoothly. While not working on JSL stuff, Matt also has a private practice offering psychotherapy, bringing his expertise in chemical dependency, child mental health. He is a Licensed Independent Certified Social Worker, holding a Master's Degree in Social Work. The early part of his professional career included a variety of environments including residential treatment services for abused and neglected children, Non-Public Schools, Out Patient Case management and Family Facilitation services, to correctional settings as well as methadone treatment.

Outside of counseling, he enjoys experiencing all things in life with his beautiful, caring and silly family. Together, they enjoy tennis, gardening, watching movies, ALL THINGS SOUNDERS, traveling and almost any other activity that allows t to journey together with my family. I personally love to read anything I can get my hands on and like to get them dirty once in a while around the house.

While not running Journey, Andrea & Matt are also the proud parent of three amazing JSL students theirselves, so their dedication to creating a meaningful foundation for children and work from a prevention approach is not only a professional focus, but also a very personal drive to give their kids' foundation and start to their lives!


Welcome to JSL, where we find the joy in our journey!

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