Reaching for the Sky

April 6-12, 2006
Reaching for the Sky
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
St. Ann’s Nursery and Pre-K Programs Remain Open

Despite St. Ann’s School closing its doors as part of the diocese’s recent consolidation of Catholic schools, St Ann’s nursery and pre-k programs are continuing to grow and flourish. Their doors will not close.

Parent Margaret McGarvey is a strong advocate of the programs at St Ann’s. Three of her children have been involved in them. Her seven-year-old son Daniel has completed nursery school at St. Ann’s, and another two of her children are now attending the pre-k and nursery programs. “It’s everything we had hoped for,” remarked McGarvey. “It’s a very loving and comfortable environment — a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It’s the greatest thing that has happened to us.”

Led by teachers Debbie Eassa and Colleen Reilly, the nursery and pre-k programs are designed to promote growth in the areas of socialization, language, motor cognition and self-help. The curriculum includes free play, creative art, dramatic play, gym, outdoor activities, science, cooking, field trips and more.

The nursery program is in session on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Pre-k is held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with both morning and afternoon sessions.
The programs have been in place for almost 20 years and 33 children currently attend.
Debbie Eassa has been a teacher at St. Ann’s for 14 years. Eassa said she and Reilly emphasize the importance of learning good nutrition with the students. The children actively participate, taking turns as they prepare their own snacks. Additionally, the students design nutrition pyramids with their parents at home. Last St. Patrick’s Day, the children prepared “leprechaun shakes.” The children are now beginning to prepare Easter snacks.

Another part of the curriculum involves designating one preschooler each week to be the VIP (Very Important Preschooler.) This activity also involves the student’s parents. The student and parents devise a poster on which important facts about the preschooler are recorded. When the poster is done, the student brings it to class, so the information can be shared with the rest of the class.

Eassa has found working with the children to be a very enjoyable experience. “It’s a challenge when we get them in the fall, but it’s rewarding at the end of the year to see how much they’ve learned. We give them a good, solid foundation,” she said.

Coleen Reilly has been teaching at St. Ann’s for 13 years. When her daughter started kindergarten at St. Ann’s School, Reilly was employed in the nursing profession. She decided to teach at St. Ann’s nursery and pre-k in order to spend more time at home with her daughter. “Teaching the children has been a joy,” said Reilly. “It’s been a lot of fun. Debbie is amazing — she’s very creative in coming up with projects for the children.”

For more information about St. Ann’s nursery and pre-k programs, call (315) 468-6441.

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