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Pre-school connects love of God with teachers, parents, students

While some children napped in a dimly lit classroom at St. Edward's Preschool, others, across the hall, drew and practiced printing their ABC's.

Theresa Forbes, the director as well as a teacher, listened to the boys and girls recite the letters after they had traced them with a marker on a preprinted sheet.

There are 23 children ages three to five enrolled at the school, and eight elementary-age children are enrolled for pre-school and/or after-school care. Not all are there everyday.

They are under the care of two full-time and two part-time teachers; the teacher-student ratio is usually 1:7.

"I pride myself on hiring dedicated teachers that model and demonstrate respect and love of self and others," Forbes said. "They model the Lord's 'Golden Rule' to love one another, and the Lord gets the credit for their personal talents."

Vocationist Father Patrick I. Nwachukwu, administrator of Mater Dei Parish, which includes St. Edward Church in Derby Line, said his hope for the school is that children will "be good Catholics and good Christians, solid in faith and morals."

He also wants them to be good citizens "who can be responsible and trustworthy" with bright futures and promising careers.

The children spend the morning separated by age groups: 3 and 4 and 4 and 5. They are combined for the afternoon, after some have had a nap.

Amy Frizzell Sherlaw of Derby has sent her children to St. Edward's Preschool since it opened; she has four children, and three of them have gone or are currently enrolled at St Edward's. The youngest is two and will go when he is old enough.

A member of Plymouth Congregational Church in East Charleston, she attended a Catholic college and taught at a Catholic school. "The quality of education that you receive at a Catholic school is second to none," she said. "I wanted my children to attend preschool in a safe, welcoming, learning environment. I wanted to be sure that they would be respected and valued. I wanted them to learn academically but also socially. We found such a place at St. Edward's Preschool. It offered all of these things and is close to my home. St. Edward's was the right fit for my family."

St. Edward's Preschool is a licensed preschool program that operates under the guidelines/requirements of the State of Vermont. The curriculum corresponds with the state standards, and the child-assessment system used is Teaching Strategies Gold.

By using this combination of educational objectives and developmental domains, teachers can enhance/encourage proper developmental growth that fits each child's learning style.

Their education focuses on areas that include social-emotional growth, language development, cognitive skills, literacy, math, science, technology and social studies.

"The local schools have said we have done well preparing them for kindergarten," Forbes said.

"My children are well prepared for kindergarten both academically and socially," Sherlaw said. "When they left preschool they could identify their numbers and letters. They could match numeral to quantity and knew the sounds each letter makes. They built lasting friendships and were well prepared" for kindergarten.

St. Edward's Preschool opened in the St. Edward Parish Hall in 2007; Forbes and then-pastor Father Yvon Royer founded it after Sacred Heart School in Newport closed. Forbes had been a pre-school teacher there. "Parents wanted a private, full-day program," she said.

"The Lord has a plan and purpose for each one of us. I always pray that He places children and families in our program that He knows need our teachers' faith and love not just our educational skills," said Forbes, a parishioner of Mater Dei Parish St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport. "In a world with much pain, sorrow and demands, we all need the Lord's guidance, prayers and mercy."

Jesus' love for everyone is emphasized at St. Edward's, where children are taught to love and accept everyone. "They are all shining stars and all special," she said of her students. "They are all God's children."

"Our program may only be a small part of our students' lives, but through encouragement, respect, hope and love we become a significant part of the Lord's plan," she said. "As director, I look at our priests and sisters as spiritual leaders. When we work together with our teachers and parents, we can make the connection of the word of God and love of Christ."

Melissa Scherer of Newport has one child in the preschool. "The education students receive is extraordinary," she said. "They not only receive standards-based education but Christian values as well."

Sister of Mercy Laura Della Santa, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington, said it is important to have a Catholic preschool in as many areas of the state as possible. "It plants the seeds of faith, love and knowledge of Jesus that we hope the children will continue to develop," she said.

For more information about St. Edward's Preschool, call (802) 873-4570.
  • Published in Diocesan
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