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Aug 17, 2015 6:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Mothers Will Open New Preschool In September

It Takes A Village Preschool is ran by three local mother's in Hampton Bays. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Aug 18, 2015 2:34 PM

Hilary Rose was sitting around a table with two of her closest friends, Maryann McCormack and Michelle Kelly, about four months ago, when the idea to create the “It Takes A Village” preschool was born.The three Hampton Bays mothers were chatting about where to send their toddlers this fall and, after growing frustrated with their limited local options, decided that they should work together and open their own facility.

Ms. Kelly explained that she and her two friends were ready to go back to work, noting that the youngest of their children would be starting preschool in the fall. The three friends have nine children between them, and their youngest, who will be attending the new preschool starting next month, are already playmates.

It also helped that all three entrepreneurs had prior workplace experience that could assist them when opening a preschool. Before having children, Ms. Rose was a teacher, Ms. Kelly was a nanny and a massage therapist, and Ms. McCormack was a pediatric physical therapist.

After ironing out the details, the three friends decided that Ms. Rose would serve as the main teacher, with Ms. Kelly and Ms. McCormack working as assistant teachers. Though they have not yet held their first class, the women already have 20 students signed up for their school, prompting the need to hire an additional educator or two.

One of the easiest decisions for the three came when figuring out where to house their new business. They ultimately sought, and secured, permission to open their school in the Anderson Warner building at the Hampton Bays United Methodist Church on West Montauk Highway.

It was Ms. Kelly’s idea to rent the space, noting how she recalled that the building that will house their classrooms was not being utilized when she attended an Easter egg hunt at the church in 2013. That event was sponsored by the Hampton Bays Mothers Association.

Ms. Kelly, who heads the Hampton Bays Mothers Association, reached out to Lillian Hertel, a pastor at the Hampton Bays church, who helped the women secure access to the two unused rooms in the Anderson Warner building for their preschool. In a recent interview, Ms. Hertel said she immediately loved their idea, noting that the space had been used as a preschool before, about 15 to 20 years earlier.

The entrepreneurs said they have already laid out about $5,000 to get their dream off the ground. That money has been used to install new carpeting and repaint the classrooms, as well as renovate a bathroom and begin construction on a playground.

They also had to pay to incorporate the school and get It Takes A Village certified by New York State. Their application to become an accredited state school is still pending; the three entrepreneurs are confident, however, that the paperwork will be finalized before they open their doors on September 2. The certification is necessary as the church is not directly affiliated with the preschool.

“We all agreed in the beginning to put in the money as a business investment,” Ms. Kelly said.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from our family and friends,” Ms. Rose added.

To save some money, Ms. Rose, Ms. McCormack and Ms. Kelly enlisted the help of friends and family to transform the building into a preschool. A friend volunteered to paint a mural of a tree in a meadow that now adorns the wall of a hallway between the classrooms and their respective husbands—Ethan Rose, Patrick McCormack and Gerard Kelly—helped out with installing the playground and redoing the bathroom.

“They did a lot of work to make sure those rooms are explosive with beautiful pastel colors for the children,” Ms. Hertel said.

It Takes A Village will follow the calendar of the Hampton Bays School District, with the preschool being closed on whatever days the schools are, Ms. McCormack explained.

The preschool will offer full-day, half-day and partial week programs for children age 3 and 4. Registration is ongoing and monthly costs range from $200 to $375 per child for the two-day programs; between $300 and $560 for the three-day programs; and between $450 and $850 for the five-day programs.

As the name of their preschool suggests, Ms. McCormack, Ms. Rose and Ms. Kelly said they think it takes a village to raise a child. Following this premise, the three have already reached out to other community members to ask if they’d be interested in stopping by the school at different times and spending some time with the preschoolers.

Gale and Adam Baranello, owners of ANG Dance Studio in Hampton Bays, and Kara Billingham, an instructor at The Yoga House, also in Hampton Bays, have already agreed to teach students about their respective fields. These activities will be beneficial to the children to help break up the day and expose them to a wide variety of activities, Ms. McCormack explained.

“I think that moms are looking for something different,” Ms. McCormack said. “It’s more of an enrichment. It’s more than your average preschool.”

The teachers also plan to utilize the playground as a unique classroom setting. The playground, which now boasts plastic slides and a jungle-gym, will eventually be made of and feature all natural, recycled equipment, Ms. Kelly explained.

The ground will be covered with wood chips, recycled tires will be used for the kids to play on and students will help the teachers plant a garden. Vegetables grown in the garden will end up in the kitchen to teach the kids how to cook, and flowers will be grown so students can learn how to turn them into natural paint for crafts, Ms. Kelly said.

Some natural fixtures are already present in the playground. A tree stump with a gray piece of slate attached to its top is the perfect size for children to create water paintings. The tiny artists can use paint brushes and a cup of water to create a mess-free painting on the slate, according to the entrepreneurs.

The playground already boasts a natural sensory station as well. The table, made of wood, holds a bucket filled with birdseed for the children to touch and play with. Sensory stations commonly use rice or sand, but the friends opted to go with birdseed because it is better for the environment.

“If the birdseed falls on the floor, it’s okay,” Ms. Kelly said. “The birds will just eat it later.”

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Good luck on your new venture. Sounds like a great idea and it will be a benefit to the church as well.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Aug 24, 15 9:16 AM