Academy of Excellence 2020

By Georgia Rivas

Take a second and think of a preschool for your child that fulfills all your wishes: a school that is fun, full of love, and in the process, develops your child academically and socially. A school that can help your young child learn about citizenship and gardening… yes, gardening!

For almost 40 years, the Academy of Excellence (AoE) preschool has been educating many generations in the Sanford/Heathrow area. AoE prides itself on cultivating a love of learning that helps develop confident, happy, and productive young pupils. The private early-learning academy focuses on children ages two-and-a-half to six and combines its traditional curriculum with modern education tools. At AoE, students relish in a positive, stimulating, and loving environment that sparks their interest and imagination.

The school (formerly known as Academy of Learning) is the creation of the late, beloved Linda Mosca.

“Linda had a connection with children that was indescribable,” says her husband, Dr. Eric Cohn. “She believed that children were more capable of learning than ever. She was doing things that nobody was doing when she started the school. Her love for the children and for the school made her special, and that made the school special.”

From day one, the school pushed the envelope of what was possible in early-childhood education – like bringing computers to the classroom in the 1980s.

“At Academy of Excellence, we keep the legacy of Mrs. Mosca alive,” says owner Arvy Sodhi, a former AoE parent who acquired the school with her husband in 2016. “Our children went to the school, and we fell in love with it. Mrs. Mosca worked so hard to build an amazing school, and we wanted to continue her philosophy to lay the foundation for tomorrow’s critical thinkers. The community support we’ve received has been awesome.”

At the forefront of the AoE curriculum is a focus on age-appropriate STREAM programs (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and on the development of a child’s literacy and fine/gross-motor skills. Little learners benefit from direct teaching instruction in small groups and guided free play to develop their social skills. 

No day is the same at AoE. The school features a very low student-to-teacher ratio and gives children plenty of room in their classrooms. Students navigate the campus to four unique enrichment rooms: science, art, music, and the library. Moreover, children are immersed in foreign-language classes. From a NASA-themed science room to a vast library (containing thousands of age-appropriate books), literacy comes alive at AoE. The new art room, with its glass walls, showcases the school’s budding artists for all to enjoy. This multidimensional approach to learning is why many of the school’s alumni enroll their own children.

“We have a lot of fun,” says Adele Willis, the school’s administrator. “We’re all about camaraderie at this school.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, AoE closed temporarily and moved its daily classes online. While this was something new for the preschool, it kept teachers in touch with their students and provided guidance to parents on how to manage at home with their children.

“Our staff has been amazing during this difficult time,” says Arvy. “It has been very challenging for everyone, however our teachers and parents have exemplified great dedication to make our online program work. It’s times like this we are blessed to have loving, committed teachers and a director who have all worked hard. I think they are a great reason for our success.”

This summer, AoE will be moving into its brand-new facility and will be expanding its classrooms and programs. 

The new campus features more than 10,000 square feet of indoor space and an extensive outdoor area, which will serve as an outdoor classroom and play space. An innovative seed-to-table program will help students learn how to grow organic vegetables. AoE will continue to promote a well-balanced education focused not only on academia, but also on being good, responsible citizens and having fun in the process. The new facility will also be equipped with many security features that will help keep students safe and sound.

“Every morning, parents leave us their greatest asset, their child, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly,” says Arvy. “We have excellent relationships with the families of our students, and we love watching the kids flourish here. We are excited to open up our new school soon and continue to see multiple generations come through our doors.”