Maple Street School will open a preschool at the Southern Vermont Arts Center | Local News

MANCHESTER — Since its founding, Maple Street School has had a long-term goal of establishing a preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds.

This time has come.

The independent school plans to establish a preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds at the Southern Vermont Arts Center, Cricket School Principal Mikheev and the board announced Tuesday.

The school intends to hire two teachers and enroll 12 students for the program’s first year, Mikheev said. The school will adopt a “Reggio Emilia” approach – an educational philosophy emphasizing student-directed experiential learning – and lease space in the Joan Hay Madeira Education Center.

The one-year lease at SVAC is year-to-year with mutual options to renew or cancel, Mikheev said.

“When the school was founded in 1998, it was always envisioned that we would one day add this important educational component,” the school’s co-founder and trustee emeritus Janet Irving said in a statement. “The time has come, and the Northshire region will be greatly served by this new opportunity for high quality early childhood education programs, which many local and recently local families have long hoped for in our community.”

The teaching program will follow the school calendar and the daily schedule of the Maple Street school day.

“We see this as an opportunity where we can really give back to the community. We know there is a need for quality preschool education in this area,” Mikheev said. “And we all feel so lucky to have come through the pandemic in Manchester – it’s a community that cares, that cares for each other, that’s really focused on the kids in a way that I think than other parts of the country haven’t been. And now we have this opportunity to offer this service to help people and help families.

The addition comes at a time when the importance of quality child care and pre-kindergarten programs to the economy and the challenges these programs have in remaining viable and affordable have been highlighted. According to advocacy group Let’s Grow Kids, which has lobbied for system reform in Vermont, three of Vermont’s five youngest children did not have affordable access to quality child care before the pandemic.

Manchester’s Northshire Day School, seeking funding from voters in Manchester, Dorset and Sunderland Borough Assemblies, said it had an enrollment of 91 students and a waiting list of around 100 students.

“Local and new families have continually asked Maple Street to consider adding a preschool,” said board chairman Peter Hershberg. “The nursery school will add another option to those already available in the area, and it will also position Maple Street as a magnet for those interested in relocating to the greater Northshire area.”

The Joan Hay Madeira Education Center is “an excellent facility,” Mikheev said, given its function as an arts classroom and its proximity to outdoor learning opportunities.

“It’s a really nice synergy,” she said. “We can bring people to their campus, they can support our mission…both institutions have a lot to contribute to early childhood development. It will be exciting to work with them. »

“As education is central to SVAC’s mission, we are thrilled to bring Maple Street School’s preschool program to campus,” said Anne Corso, Art Center Director. “We hope to support their curriculum and nurture the next generation of young artists and art enthusiasts. We invite students, teachers and parents of Maple Street Schools to enjoy all that SVAC has to offer, both inside and outside the classroom.

The school said teachers would be salaried and the program would review tuition and tuition assistance the same as the K-8 program. “And we have donors who are really interested in making sure this program is accessible to everyone in the community,” she said.

The Reggio Emilia approach was born out of post-WWII Italy and a desire to educate children in a way of humanity and empathy in the wake of so much destruction. , Mikheev said.

“There were so many families in Italy and in Europe who were really damaged by war and they really wanted to start from scratch and think about how to nurture children in a way that would develop their kindness and compassion, as well as their creativity and their problem-solving skills,” Mikheev said. “And that’s all very closely tied to what we do at Maple Street. We’re talking about joyful learning. We’re talking about developing curious learners, we’re talking about responsibility for self and others.And these align perfectly with this idea of ​​helping children learn with their teachers.

For more information and to apply, visit the school’s website at maplestreetschool.com.

William E. Bennett