Rye Presbyterian Nursery School
This fall is Rye Presbyterian Nursery School’s 60th year.
The progressive and non-denominational preschool provides a play-based, half-day program inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy for ages 2 to 5. “As we listen to children’s ideas, we build our curriculum,” note Co-Directors Kristin Kumar and Margaret Sculti. “We work collaboratively to create long-term projects and investigations, delving deeper into what interests them. To prepare students for elementary school, we integrate learning goals into our studies, so every child is nurtured, supported, and challenged.”
At RPNS, morning and afternoon classes meet two, three, four, or five days a week, and there is the option of lengthening a child’s day through various extended–day programs. In addition to the co-directors, the staff includes 21 teachers, a curriculum consultant, as well as art studio, music/movement, Spanish and physical education teachers, a school nurse, a child psychologist, and speech and occupational therapists.
All enjoy the ten beautiful classrooms, art studio, two age-specific playgrounds, a bike track, an outdoor learning environment, a “Great Lawn”, two garden areas, and the use of two large meeting spaces in Rye Presbyterian Church.
The school prides itself on using “the project approach”, whereby teachers guide students through in-depth studies of real-world topics. Rather than just giving preschoolers the answers, teachers work with them to research and learn more about a topic. “Children are natural researchers; as they learn, they question, experiment, and reflect,” said the co-directors. “Giving students the chance to interview ‘experts’ in their field of study allows them to access new and meaningful information that enhances their learning experience.”
During the 2017-18 school year, RPNS students had the opportunity to learn more about bees and ducklings, as well as the workings of the Rye Post Office and Rye Free Reading Room.
In Mrs. Fiore’s and Mrs. Zambrano’s morning 3-year-old class, the children were abuzz about bees. They did their research before a visit by Karen Sabath of Hudson Valley Natural Beekeepers. She not only shared her knowledge but brought along tools, jackets, suits, and veils for the children to try on. They also had a chance to see honeycombs up-close.
The entire school had the pleasure of watching ducklings hatch and grow through the 4H incubation project at Cornell Cooperative Extension. The students watched the immense determination each duckling had as it made its way out of its shell and onto its feet. Once the ducks hatched, students observed their growth and development — and splashing around in water outside — for one wonderful week.
The Post Office study started because of interest in the mail/message center located in Mrs. Glick’s and Mrs. Scher’s 4-year-old classroom. The mail center was busy with children drawing and signing their own names and the names of the message recipients. The children continued to send mail to their friends within their classroom until a classmate thought of something new: he wanted to send a letter to England!
This inspired all the children to want to send letters to family and friends near and far, but the children soon realized they needed more information first, namely about mailboxes, stamps, and addressing envelopes. The class wondered about the process by which the mail goes from the mailbox near the school all the way to a country as far as England. The children figured out the place they could go to get all the answers: The Post Office.
The class took a field trip to the Rye Post Office, where they met Postmasters Rob and Trina and got an insider’s tour of the facility. The class saw firsthand how the back room of the post office is used to organize mail by address, so that it is quick and easy for the mail people to make their deliveries.
Mrs. Cotter’s and Mrs. Prata’s morning 4-year-old class was interested in exploring children’s literature, so the teachers invited children’s author/illustrator Lizzy Rockwell for a visit to gain a better understanding of what it took to create a book. The students were ready with their questions. “What are the steps in making a book cover?” “How do you come up with what the book will be about, and how do you keep the story going?”
This experience motivated the youngsters to create their own stories, and they then invited their parents to come listen to them.
In order to bring the literacy study full circle, the class visited the Rye Free Reading Room, “the big home for books”. The librarians provided a storytime filled with adventures by author Lois Ehlert. They also participated in an art activity that connected with the stories.
Rye Presbyterian Nursery School
882 Boston Post Road, Rye
Co-Directors: Kristin Kumar and Margaret Sculti