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Calvary Nursery School History

On a winter afternoon in 1994, a group of young mothers gathered around the dining room table in the rectory of Calvary Church. They talked of their desire to have a “dream preschool” where their children could be exposed to the Christian values of faith, hope, love, forgiveness and service and where children of all faiths could celebrate their religious and cultural heritages — a place where all children and families could identify their own uniqueness.

With the encouragement of the Rev’d Mark Robinson, rector of Calvary Church and the support of the Vestry the group moved to make their dream a reality and thus Calvary Nursery School was born. Strong in enthusiasm but somewhat limited in expertise, they developed a philosophy and mission statement for their school and started a fund raising campaign. In August of 1994 the Borough Planning and Zoning Commission approved the application for the creation of the school.

Filled with enthusiasm, they moved forward to market the school, hire staff and file incorporation papers. In March 1995, CNS was incorporated with space for 16 children. Students were enrolling and a Head Teacher was hired. The Church School classrooms were adapted for preschool and a sand pile was added to the existing playground. In September 1995, CNS opened its doors with a 4 half-day program for 3-5 year olds.

For the next few years, with the Board acting as School Director, the school struggled to find the right fit to keep true to its mission and best meet the needs of the community. A variety of programs, including 2, 3 and 5 day programs, and an afternoon Kindergarten Enrichment program were offered. In 2000 the Board adopted a two or three day multiage curriculum for 3-5 year olds with a school day of 8:30 to 1:30 which continues at this time.

Over the years the playground underwent major renovations with the creation of a playhouse, called “the Founders Cottage,” a stage area, a state of the art jungle gym and child friendly gardens.

The educational model which breathes life into the Mission and Philosophy statements has the “touch” of each of the 3 Head Teachers who have worked at CNS. The founding teacher brought the elements of Waldorf education (use of natural materials, carefully prepared environment, a reverence for children, with the 3 Rs being Rhythm, Repetition, Respect), the next teacher brought elements of Reggio Emilio (a town in Italy that focused on programs for young children after WWII and became world renowned for their approach to the arts, an aesthetically pleasing environment, and careful documentation of children’s work). in 2003 the board hired its first director/head teacher who brought to CNS her years of experience in working in college laboratory schools with a focus on basing programs on principles of child development and working together with parents in best supporting children. All of these approaches compliment one another and make CNS a well-respected school within the surrounding community and an integral part of the life of Calvary Church.

Our staff now includes a Director, Head Teacher, Teacher Assistants, and sometimes a college student intern (see bios). Current staff members are committed to honoring the traditions and philosophies that have shaped CNS, while bringing their own talents and interests to this unique program.

CNS has a modest endowment, offers financial aid, and over the years has stayed true to its Mission Statement and Philosophy.