This story originally appeared in the fall 2013 Harker Quarterly.
The much anticipated sound of children at play filled the first day of school at Harker Preschool, which officially opened for classes on Sept. 3.
“We had a wonderful and memorable first day! The teachers and administration can’t tell you how great it was to see our beautiful space finally filled with children. The best part was that smiling children, teachers and parents could be found on the way into school and the way out,” said Andrea Hart, preschool director.
Located on Union Avenue, Harker Preschool sits on an 8-acre site which was purchased by Harker from the county last year. Renovations had been underway since January to prepare for the preschool, which received final approval on July 18 from the state and licensing agency.
Following the excitement of getting the licensing – and launching a new preschool website – were outreach and marketing efforts that had been waiting until official license approval. Adding to the anticipation was a tremendous leaning in by the entire Harker community, with volunteer parents working alongside faculty and staff to help unpack boxes and get classrooms set up for the big day.
A flurry of official activities occurred just before the preschool’s grand opening, including a new parent orientation and a Little Visit event. The Little Visit day, which took place at the end of August, was designed to give both parents and children the opportunity to visit the school, become comfortable in the space, spend time with teachers and meet some classmates. Families were divided into two small groups per classroom and were able to play and explore in the cottages and out in the nearby yard.
Some of the preschool students have siblings attending The Harker School’s lower, middle and upper schools. “We’re very excited to add the preschool to our K-12 school community,” said Chris Nikoloff, head of school.
The new play-based preschool will offer programs for 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds and transitional kindergartners. With a focus on child-centered learning and teacher-guided explorations, Harker Preschool offers a curriculum rich with music, art, movement and nature. All of the preschool teachers have college degrees and backgrounds working with children.
“We are building a very special place for young children, with kind, passionate and highly qualified teachers giving guidance. We also have a large, thoughtfully developed campus, and the best blend of early childhood education philosophies enabling children to develop and learn while engrossed in rich, hands-on play experiences,” said Hart.
A Bay Area native, Hart previously spent 11 years working as a teacher at the Bing Nursery School, the play-based laboratory preschool at Stanford University. She started her educational career years before that teaching in local Montessori preschools. Hart is also a former student of the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership at Columbia University.
“We are all so excited about the new preschool,” said longtime Harker employee Kelly Espinosa, who oversees the school’s summer and preschool programs. “It is a beautiful facility that promises to be a one- of-a-kind experience for young children,” she added.
For more information about the new Harker Preschool, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. And look for updates about the new Union campus and preschool in continuous coverage by Harker Quarterly.