Preschool Advantage Recognizes the Learning Garden Academy for Excellence in Education


Preschool Advantage, a local nonprofit, honored the Learning Garden Academy, a preschool in Pine Brook, with its annual Golden Acorn Award, which recognized the school for its outstanding achievements in preschool education. On November 17th Preschool Advantage committee member Robin Vlamis presented the award to the Academy’s owner Annie Sousa and its director Rachel Lopardo.


Preschool Advantage’s School Committee, comprised of current and former preschool directors and teachers who care deeply about early childhood education, conducts a rigorous evaluation of its partner preschools to choose a recipient. In order to win this award, a school must maintain excellence in six key criteria: teacher and child interaction, curriculum, family involvement, staff qualifications, professional development, and management of the school.

The Committee noted that Learning Garden Academy is committed to providing an optimal experience for their students, following a curriculum based on the NJ State Standards. Their philosophy is based on kindness, love, and genuine caring. Their curriculum includes many different activities, including yoga.


Director Rachel Lopardo, responding to this honor, said, “It was such a thrill to be selected as a partnering school by Preschool Advantage in 2019, and this award has made the experience that much sweeter. We enjoy working with an organization whose philosophy aligns so perfectly with ours and delighted that they recognized our dedication to providing quality early childhood education. Our partnership has allowed more children to share our mission of enriching a child’s academic, social and emotional growth, while planting seeds of loving kindness and mindfulness throughout the preschool experience. Thank you, Preschool Advantage, for helping us to reach more students and for recognizing us with this award.”


Preschool Advantage is a non-profit organization that has provided families with financial assistance for high quality preschool education since its inception 25 years ago, funding over 1,500 tuitions. Additional information about the organization can be found on, or by calling (973) 532-2501.

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