By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, August 5, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
HAMPTON -- When it comes to teaching preschoolers, teamwork is everything. And when the doors open on September 6 to the new Sandbox Preschool in Hampton, an experienced teaching team will be there to greet their young arrivals.
"We’ve been together a long time," says owner Nancy Cronan. "We work together extremely well."
Cronan, who originally ran the former Aslan’s Pride preschool on High Street in Hampton, will be joined by Sue French and Sherri Hamel, her fellow teachers from Aslan’s.
Cronan began her association with Aslan’s Pride a decade ago, serving as a teacher the first two years before taking over operation of the long-running preschool for the eight years that followed. She worked closely with French for the entire time, and with Hamel for the last four.
"Each one of us have our own strengths," says Cronan. "We have good communication. It’s a total team."
Open to children ages 3-5, the Sandbox Preschool will be offering a two-day morning program on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-11:30 a.m. for 3- to 4-year-olds. Students ages 4-5 can attend on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the morning session (8:45-11:15 a.m.) or the afternoon session (12-12:30 p.m.).
According to Cronan, the school accepts 21 children in each session, averaging out to a very workable 7-1 student-to-teacher ratio.
"The kids get plenty of attention," says Cronan. "It’s very good."
The programs are very specialized according to the students’ age range.
With the two-day students, says Cronan, "We work on a lot of social skills; waiting our turn, getting along with one another, and sharing." The three-day pre-K program "[focuses] on the alphabet, letters, numbers, writing their names, learning the days of the week — I could go on," she says.
The days are very structured, too, a feature which works well with youngsters of preschool age.
"They like the schedule; they like routine," says Cronan.
The preschool facility features four rooms in an "open concept" arrangement. There are plenty of cubbies for storage, and the area is well-stocked with art supplies and toys. There are a couple of comfy couches (perfect for sitting and reading aloud) and kid-sized tables and chairs. Large windows let in plenty of light, and the décor is such that little ones will feel welcome and ready to learn.
"I like it because it’s very bright," says Cronan, who purchased all the furnishings and supplies.
Not all the fun takes place indoors; outside there is a safe, fenced-in playground with equipment that includes swings, slides, and a playhouse.
"It’s big!" says Cronan of the play area.
She offers kudos to the former owner, Susan Haight, who ran the Learning Circle at this location. Cronan says her predecessor "did a good job starting up this school."
Though she has been associated with preschools for the past 10 years, Cronan’s career as an educator began even earlier.
"I used to teach public school in Massachusetts," she explains. I taught special needs [students] years ago, and fifth grade reading. Then I got into teaching the younger ones."
As far as her teaching team’s philosophy is concerned, Cronan says "We try to create a safe and nurturing environment because the kids are so young, and [we try to] make kids feel comfortable away from home." They do so, she says, by encouraging their students "to bring things from home and share them during Circle Time," and to "participate in all projects."
Teaching preschoolers is an extremely rewarding experience, as far as Cronan is concerned. She says she "loves their enthusiasm and their innocence." And, she adds, "They just keep us laughing."
A cheerful place to learn, the Sandbox Preschool is currently accepting registrations, and will open for regularly sessions on September 6 at their location at 830 Lafayette Road in Hampton. For more information, call Nancy Cronan (603) 926-0823.