Though Kristina Veilleux only took over as the director of in August 2008, she is more than excited to celebrate a big milestone for the school–its 40-year anniversary. The school was started as an outreach program by The Zion Episcopal Church.
"The church is small but full of generous and hard-working volunteers who have supported the school for 40 years," said Veilleux. "Although they really aren't involved in our day-to-day operation, they are the reason we exist."
The parent cooperative nursery school has run traditional nursery school programs in the past and, though traditional two- and three-day programs are still available, Veilleux has recognized the need to broaden the scope, adding before- and after-care along with extra days. Traditional school hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with before-care starting at 8 a.m. and extended day available until 3 p.m.
“A lot of moms have to go back to work so I’ve tried to keep our traditional programs and add some extras,” said Veilleux. “The parent coop is nice because the parents are able to come into the classroom about three times a year, help the teacher, be there for snack and maybe bring an activity or special book. It’s a really nice way to be involved and show kids that it’s important they’re in school.”
In addition to extending hours during the school year, Veilleux also added a summer program that has run for four weeks over the past few summers. With this year’s success, she hopes to expand to five or six weeks in 2012.
Though this year’s summer program is over, the teachers are still hard at work. Just yesterday, they were busy cleaning up the school, decorating the walls and getting the classrooms ready for the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The teachers are more than familiar with the school as the staff has a combined 60 years experience at the school. Lillian Mei has been with Nursery on Notch Hill for 26 years, while fellow teacher Donna Hart has worked at the school for 12 years. Betsy Sachs joins the teaching staff this year, though she’s been around for a while as six of her children attended the school. Rita Melillo (8 years) and Sue Calamita (6 years) are teachers’ aides.
With the school entering its 40th year, there is now a second-generation of students attending Nursery on Notch Hill. Amy Johnson grew up in North Branford and remembers her days at the school fondly.
Johnson, who now lives in Guilford, visited another preschool before coming to Nursery on Notch Hill but decided this school was the best fit for her children, now four, six and eight.
“My whole neighborhood went there and I remember it being a comfortable place with a lot of activities and a fun back playroom,” said Johnson. “The teachers [at Notch Hill] really stood out as welcoming and kid-friendly and my children got that feeling as well. It was a great stepping-stone to kindergarten and helped my children grow socially and emotionally.”
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