My name is Tracey Varrone and I am so glad you are here learning more about Brick and Ivy Studio! I am a wonder seeker, lifelong learner, and light chaser who has had the incredible good fortune to serve as an educator for a little over two decades! I have been blessed as a classroom teacher, grade-level chair, intervention/enrichment specialist, published author, mentor, and Teacher of the Year!
As a reflective practitioner who has always believed in the power of PLAY... I became increasingly more aware of the space between things and the gaps in foundational readiness skills among young children I was serving. While I had always LOVED the challenge of deep dives across curriculum and the thrill of supporting students as they acquired new skills and refined their thinking…I suddenly and all at once felt my teaching heart was being called to nurture a new path.
It was undeniable and invigorating! Over the next five years, in the wee hours of the morning while my family slept, I researched, reflected, and wrote the curriculum blueprint for a nature-bonded and play-based experience that would compliment the K-2 learning continuum I had been proudly rooted to for the tenure of my career. Blessed by the phenomenal support of my precious family, dearest friends, and brilliant colleagues I took the leap of faith and launched, Brick and Ivy Studio, in August of 2018. Love is at the heart of it all.
I am so grateful to God for blessing me with a loving village that has inspired, supported, and encouraged me through each season of my faith-walk!! It all began at home where I was loved into being and free to be me! I am the oldest of two children and one of many, many cousins who were all raised as siblings around the block from one another in a BIG, multi-generational Italian family in New York. An abundance of all-weather outdoor play, pretend play, sensory play, and process art were staples in my early childhood and undoubtedly laid the foundation for my own “readiness” to advocate for these things years later.
I attended a home, play-based morning nursery school and went to a half-day kindergarten where we PLAYED, bundled up for recess in the snow, scooped paste out of tubs for art projects on rainbow construction paper, painted big pictures with powder tempera paint cakes on easels with smocks, and enjoyed graham crackers and milk off a cart after rest time! I had an amazing public school experience with teachers who taught me all about the kind of teacher I wanted to be at one of the largest public school systems in the country.
I absolutely loved school and dreamed of becoming a teacher one day from very early on! After high school graduation, I decided that I would devote my graduate studies to the business of education and my undergraduate studies to the psychology behind it! Taking the time to study human development within the context of family at Cornell University really helped me to appreciate the interconnectedness of it all and fostered the “we before me” philosophy that has woven itself through my career.
It was in the stacks at Cornell that I began to read all that I could about the young child, relationships, and the life-course…and I never stopped! Maslow’s work on motivation urged me to consider the emotional needs of a child, Piaget’s opened my eyes to the cognitive process children undergo as they construct knowledge, and Erikson’s reminded me to be sensitive to the ways social interactions impact development. Somewhere between playing, studying, and crafting my teaching AND becoming a mother myself I became devoted to carrying on in the spirit of these GIANTS and those in the field that I had the privilege to grow alongside. I am absolutely certain that they, along with my loving and light-filled Studio family and dream team, are the bricks to my ivy.