The Reggio Pilot Project was created in 2001 at the San Francisco Unified School District Presidio Child Development Center under the umbrella of ITP. The Presidio Child Development Center is a public facility serving a diverse low-income population. Educators at the child development center had already devoted the previous year to documenting and reading about the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.
The three-year pilot program was established in order to focus on a public childcare setting where resources are not as available as at private centers that make up the bulk of ITP membership. The concept of the pilot project was to work with teachers over an extended period, creating professional development opportunities through a focused study of the Reggio Emilia Approach.
The goal of the pilot project was to understand how focusing on teachers' professional development could affect the quality of their teaching and how it could facilitate a community of learning that involved the teachers, the students and their families. The vision was to create a public center for early childhood education where other educators could observe the impact of the project.
The Pilot Project focused on teachers' research and study of the Reggio Approach. The design included professional development on a daily, weekly and monthly basis in collaboration with the site manager and executive director of the Innovative Teacher Project. Teachers read about and discussed the concepts of observing and listening to children, collaborating with colleagues, and documenting their work.
At the end of each pilot year, an independent firm surveyed teachers and parents to investigate the effects of the approach and discover what was needed to further support professional development and encourage collaboration.
The Innovative Teacher Project provided a structure for teachers to access roundtables, seminars and conferences that continued throughout each academic year. Weekly team meetings began to address teacher collaboration. Consultants from Reggio Emilia, Italy, came twice a year to work with the center's community. Teachers participating in the project visited other schools inspired by the Reggio Approach and attended ITP seminars to support their work. As teachers participated in these professional development initiatives, they were asked to present what they learned to the staff at the Presidio Child Development Center.
The Reggio Pilot Project at the Presidio Child Development Center was designed to emulate the practice of Reggio Emilia in their ongoing permanent staff development. The ultimate goal of the pilot was to create, sustain and support quality teaching and to promote a "community of learners" made up of students, teachers and parents.
While the pilot ended in 2004, the Presidio Child Development Center chose to continue their study of the Reggio Emilia approach and their participation in the Innovative Teacher Project.