We have now completed three weeks of school. I have not posted on this blog because for much of that time my heart was in my throat hoping that all would go well. And it has - we have been blessed with wonderful students and thoughtful parents - and hardworking, cheerful, and optimistic teachers. We instituted new procedures, new arrival times, new activities, new traditions - and everyone has been immensely cooperative and helpful.
St. Philip's traditionally had an open door policy with parents - they were welcome to bring children downstairs, read a story, chat with the director or a teacher. Now, parents can't enter the building. Nonetheless, the children have been terrific at saying goodbye and then happily beginning their day, and we find that we have a good start to our planned activities as a result. All our parents have been amazing at arriving and picking up on time and being patient with the Brightwheel checkin process.
We could not have had such a successful opening without the hard work of our custodian, Mr. Tony Marcellin. He cleans, vacuums, and disinfects every morning so that we arrive to a fresh safe environment each day. He also powerwashed the climbing equipment, put up a new back gate for us, helps set up the playground every day, and does a myriad more helpful things, including explaining his tools to our curious Ducks.
We have also benefitted form the help of our two essential "workers," the Reverend Amanda Eiman and new Parish Administrator Micki Bless. They are terrific supporters of the program, and will be playing a larger role in the future.
Finally, the members of the Vestry of St. Philip's really deserve the credit for the continued existence of the Nursery School. Without the financial support of St. Philip's Church, we would be closed. The church does not charge rent and bears our occupancy costs. This summer, they funded fresh paint, new mulch, new swings, new picnic tables, an air purifier - anything we needed to operate safely. Led by Terri Akbas and Sarah Bayne, they want to see St. Philip's succeed and continue for at least another 60 years to come. All my thanks to them.
To continue explaining the animal imagery that is an important part of our culture:
For almost six decades, St. Philip's Nursery School has followed child-centered traditions. One of the most treasured is that of the ducks and the rabbits. Our four-year-olds are ducks, and our two- and three-year-olds are rabbits - blue and red. This avoids the use of age-related hierarchical names, and reflects the enjoyment each age-group experiences through working and playing with each other.
Our illustrated duck and rabbit were created for us many years ago by children's author and former parent Lawrence DiFiori.
You'll see a photo of a stuffed bear on these pages, and he is known as Cuddles. He was introduced to the Nursery School in 2003, and for all those years he has accompanied the teacher or director leading our meeting time. Cuddles has rules he shares with the children: "Walking feet, listening ears, kind words." He often whispers things to a teacher: it's someone's birthday, we have a special guest, he is upset because he heard some children arguing. He has been bandaged for a visit from the Ambulance Corps and wears a fire helmet when the Fire Department visits each October. He is an integral part of our teaching toolbox, and we are grateful for his continued presence.
St. Philip's Nursery School, 1101 Route 9D, Garrison, NY 10524 (845) 424-4209