BY NATE SMELLE
Recently the parents of children attending the Fonthill Baptist Church’s Nursery School were notified that they would be closing their doors after 34 years. Serving to help prepare local children for elementary school, the beloved institution leaves a void in the community for families with young ones. Jocelyn Woodward, one of the parents of the children attending the school, said she was very sad and surprised when she heard the school would be closing.
“It was definitely very valuable for her,” she said.
“I had some tears when they told us it was closing. She already has so many memorable experiences from her time there.”
Since her four-year-old daughter started attending the school a year ago, Woodward said she has seen how beneficial the classes have been for her. Having spent three mornings a week over the last year, Woodward said her daughter has been upset that she hasn’t been able to go to class and see her friends.
“Every day this week she has been asking me if she was going to pre-school and I had to tell her no. She doesn’t understand but she could tell something was missing.”
According to Woodward, everything about the school was wonderful. She said the church provided a perfect space for the children to learn and to play in a safe environment. The fenced in outdoor area also gave them a chance to get outdoors as well. With her daughter preparing to enter elementary school this September, Woodward is confident that her experiences at the nursery school will allow her to adapt to her new learning environment.
“There are day cares and day homes but they’re not the same,” she said.
“It’s a different atmosphere. It was a great way for kids to transition from pre-school to Kindergarten. Like with my daughter, I have no worry that she will fit in and do well in kindergarten because of her experiences at pre-school. It was a great stepping stone for her.”
Dousing any possibilities that the nursery school could reopen at a future date, the school held a sale on June 27 to clear out its books, toys and other resources. Woodward said she is hoping to see another nursery school take its place. Even though another nursery school offering similar programs would help to fill the void in the community in terms of service, she said the teachers at the Fonthill Baptist Church’s school would be difficult to replace.
“All the teachers were amazing,” she said.
“They will be missed dearly.”
Yvonne Yochim has been teaching children at the nursery school for the past 23 years. Disappointed by the board’s decision to close the school, she said the closure was not due to low enrollment. In fact, she said, the school had a wait-list for children wishing to attend. Yochim explained that two of the main reasons for the closure were new legislative changes for nursery schools and the inability to find new directors to sit on the board. Recognizing the value of the school and its programs to the community, Yochim pointed out that the kind of programs they offered at the nursery school are becoming more difficult to find.
“We met a special need in the community,” she said.
“We serviced families with a very affordable non-profit program where moms at home on mat leave who wanted a program for the older sibling, families who worked part time, grandparents who cared for grandchildren, and families that wanted a program for just two or three mornings a week rather than full time day care. I suppose all good things come to an end, and for everything there is a season.”