The Village Green Nursery School of Bedford Village, the only nonprofit nursery school in the area, celebrated its 55th anniversary in September.
The Village Green Nursery School of Bedford Village, the only nonprofit nursery school in the area, celebrated its 55th anniversary in September. The school, established in 1956 by Dorothy Crawford, was created as an opportunity for children to learn and develop in a nurturing environment, whether their family had the means to pay for it or not. Now, 55 years later, the school stays true to that vision. Director and board member Samantha Boege emphatically states that the school is "not run for profit...it is run out of love."
Head teacher Norma Bandak and assistant teacher Chrissa Skeades with Village Green students at the school's annual visit to the Bedford Fire Department, where the children learn about fire safety from volunteers like ex-chief Paul Aquilino. Courtesy the Village Green Nursery.
The Village Green Nursery School is unique, and not just because of its not-for-profit status. Head teacher Norma Bandak and assistant teacher and longtime board member Chrissa Skeades teach with an "open door" policy, encouraging parents to participate as much as they want. The board of directors consists of community members and parents and is entirely volunteer-based. The school also places a high level of importance on being eco-friendly, operating under the belief that kids are ready to take on the responsibility of being environmentally conscious at a young age.
"Norma is unbelievable," Boege says. "She's really passionate about science and recycling, and she gets the kids talking about really complicated subjects at a level that's appropriate for them." Projects in Bandak's classroom include crafts made from "garbage" or other recyclable objects and a butterfly garden, inspired and orchestrated by the kids. "Norma knows the children so well," she adds. "She wants them to question life and question the world around them."
In addition to classroom activities, students engage in a number of community outreach field trips throughout the year, including weekly trips to the local library and annual trips to the firehouse and the post office. The school hosts a Halloween parade in which students and teachers dress up and walk into town, serenading shoppers and librarians with Halloween tunes. They also host various community-building activities; Grandparents Day is a particular favorite.
While it offers a robust curriculum, the school stays true to its not-for-profit roots. In the past several years, Boege says, the school has been able to award scholarships to children on a need-based level, thanks to donations from past parents. "It's a wonderful thing that we can give back to the community like that," she says. "The children who we've been able to help...they need to be here. We feel really good about it."
For more information on The Village Green Nursery School, contact Samantha Boege at 914-234-4316.