Margarita Pagliai is an accomplished educator with 32+ years of experience in education, business, and marketing. Ms. Pagliai is the one of the founders and Executive Director of Little Dolphins By the Sea preschool and the Head of School of Seven Arrows Elementary School.
Mrs. Pagliai graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a bachelor's in Liberal Arts. Prior to that, she studied in Montreux, Switzerland, delving into the history and interrelations of European countries, which she followed by two years of additional economy and literature studies in Colombia, SA, prior to marrying her husband and immigrating to the United States. Mrs. Pagliai speaks four languages: French, Italian, English and Spanish. Her extensive travels throughout world, as well as her ongoing research in education, has greatly influenced her conceptualization of and goals for education and child development at both Little Dolphins By the Sea preschool and Seven Arrows, under her guidance, they are being implemented with overwhelming success.
Following her first seven years as Executive Director and Curriculum Director of Little Dolphins, she passed on the title to her successor, the Preschool Director, who gained complete charge of carrying on the high-level curriculum and daily functioning of this highly innovative educational institution. From there, she was asked – and backed financially – by parents to create an elementary school that continued her philosophy and vision. Her curriculum, philosophy, and vision for both schools have been well received and recognized by educators and visionaries in the field, such as Dr. Howard Gardner, Dr. Ed Hallowell, Richie Davidson, Susan Kaiser Greenland, and neuroscientist Dr. Judy Willis, amongst others.
Thank you so much for your interest in Little Dolphins by the Sea. After 30 years, the Little Dolphins community continues to grow and amaze me with their passion for education. I am grateful to have meaningfully partaken in the lives of so many incredible children and families who have been part of our Seven Arrows Way of Education.
Success by our Little Dolphins and Seven Arrows Way of Education standards is measured in one simple, but fundamental way: Have we as a school inspired our young Dolphins to foster Curiosity, Creativity, and Community? Are our students engaged and motivated to become lifelong learners? Do they embody a growth-mind set coupled with the emotional intelligence needed to embark on their own individualized plan of education?
Every day that I walk on campus, the answer unmistakably presents itself through countless examples of our students as impassioned, ethical, loving, resilient, supportive, and motivated individuals who strive for excellence and make us all so proud. We can rest assured that these are the types of citizens we send into the world — citizens who will stand up for what they believe in, who innovate and imagine, who make a difference in local and global communities, and who inspire and touch through their creativity and passion, thereby making our world a better place for all.
This is the power of a single community working together in the lives of our future generation. We are deeply committed to our world through our efforts and commitment to each child, and we invite impassioned parents with the same dedication to join our tight-knit community.
Thank you for your interest in our school.
Amy Marston is a passionate educator that has worked at Little Dolphins for over 10 years. She attended Loyola Marymount University where she earned her BA in Sociology and Clear, California K-6 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and later her MA in Childhood and Adolescent Literacy. She has since taken numerous Early Childhood Education courses through UCLA extension.
Amy began her career at Little Dolphins as a TK teacher. Over the years, she and her co-teacher recreated and built up Little Dolphins’ incredible TK program. In 2016, Amy traveled to Boston where she and Margarita Pagliai participated in an extensive training program focused on the application of design thinking and makerspace in young children at MIT. Upon arriving back in LA, they worked closely with an MIT engineering graduate student to build one of the first preschool aged makerspaces in West LA. Margarita and Amy created the Little Dolphins’ Makerspace summer camp. Amy has successfully written the makerspace curriculum and run the summer camp for 6 years.
Amy’s personal educational philosophy stems from a culture of kindness and acceptance. When children know that they are unconditionally accepted and respected, they feel safe to make mistakes, safe to ask questions, safe to grow. She is very grateful to be part of a school like Little Dolphins, an institution that nurtures inquisitive, imaginative, and intelligent children to grow up to be upstanding citizens in the community.
I began my journey at Little Dolphins 27 years ago as the parent of a 4-year-old, and in the span of that year, I fell in love with this way of early childhood education. With a professional background in the arts, I knew I wanted to be part of a community that nurtures a child’s creativity and imagination through art, music, and folk tales from around the world. It was inspiring to see that a rich arts-based curriculum along with the immersion into a different culture each month had a profound impact on children at this tender age; giving them a sense of wonder, curiosity, and respect for others. Throughout the ensuing years, I have dedicated myself to continuing this hands-on approach to education by developing an after school enrichment program, teaching art classes, and acting as art consultant to keep the aesthetic vision of the school alive and growing. I believe that as early childhood educators, we have the opportunity to create an excitement for learning that lasts a lifetime. My 4 year old Little Dolphin is now 33 years old and she credits her confidence and ability to think creatively to her experience all those years ago at Little Dolphins By The Sea.
I received a B.A. in fine arts from Binghamton University, New York. I have worked in the areas of textile design, photography and children’s art education, and co-authored a children’s art book, titled P is for Peanut, for the Getty Museum. I am the mother of two grown children (the most fulfilling job!) and live in Pacific Palisades with my husband, David Schwartz, and dog, Banjo.
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be part of the educational process. From an early age, I taught, coached, tutored, and worked with people of all ages, working to inspire them to be their best self in the classroom, on a court and as a person. I was, and still am, a voracious reader, an inspired student and a passionate athlete. I had teachers, mentors, and coaches who from an early age made an impact on my life thus I too am determined to inspire others to find their passion.
While educating our children is a serious and important intellectual endeavor, I am a true believer that there always needs to be an element of fun in the process. Fun does not always mean laughing, giggling, or playing, to me the fun is feeling good about the process, being present and enjoying the moment. That is how one learns. It might take 1, 2, or 50 tries to grasp a skill, but the enjoyment is derived from the feeling of satisfaction that you are giving your best effort.
Teaching by example is a very important educational tool. Everyday at Little Dolphins I learn something new from my co-founders, from our teachers, and from our young students. As a founder, I feel it is important to set the example of being an eternal student.
One must never forget that the process of learning at any age is an adventure, a way of opening the mind and soul to new experiences. When you engage children at an early age, you lay a foundation, which stimulates and inspires curiosity and provides a solid foundation for lifelong learning.
I am a member of the Princeton Class of ’83 and have two grown Little Dolphin alumni children and live in Pacific Palisades.
MY MISSION IS TO UNDERSTAND EACH CHILD'S INDIVIDUAL NEEDS TO ENSURE THEY ACHIEVE THE MOST OUT OF THEIR HUMAN POTENTIAL.