Thursday, June 13, 2002

New Fairfield preschool is a collaborative effort

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

        FAIRFIELD — A planned change in curriculum at Holy Cross Child Development Center and a nudge from parents catapulted Marilyn Anderson into pursuing a long-held dream of opening her own preschool.

[photo] Discussing plans for the Fairfield Child Development Center are, from left, Olivia Mohr, daughter of a teacher; Beth Filipek, a teacher; Marleen Berger, development director; Coleen Mohr, a teacher; and Marilyn Anderson, program director.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        The nonprofit Fairfield Child Development Center is to open July 8. Several weeklong themed morning day camps are planned for preschoolers at the 7,500-square-foot preschool at Donald and Industry drives.

        And instead of looking toward retirement, Mrs. Anderson now finds herself overseeing renovation with her husband, Terry, of what was once a concrete-block furniture showroom.

        “It's always been a dream,” said Mrs. Anderson, who had been Holy Cross' director the past 18 years. “It took the parents saying the time is now for me to do it.”

        It wouldn't have been possible, she said, if not for the assistance of Marlene Berger, who worked with Mrs. Anderson for 13 years at Holy Cross. For the past nine months Mrs. Berger has handled registrations and helped plan the start-up as a volunteer.

        “I came back because I've always believed in the program,” Mrs. Berger said. “I was once the young mother walking in the door. It has touched so many children in Fairfield in so many ways.”

        Preschool classes at Holy Cross will continue under a new director and curriculum approved by Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 5071 Winton Road, whose classrooms the preschool shares.

        Using $40,000 in seed money raised through private donations and parent fund-raisers, work on the project began this spring. Parent volunteers did what work they could to save money.

        The new school will have three classrooms of 875 to 900 square feet, each with its own child-sized bathroom, sink and refrigerator; a 3,000-square-foot activity room; a storage room; a teacher workroom; and a kitchen.

        Preschool and kindergarten readiness classes will be offered. Classes will be taught by a staff of 12, mostly made up of Holy Cross teachers and assistants who opted to move to the new school with Mrs. Anderson, the full-time director.

        “I love the program and I love working with the kids,” said teacher Beth Filipek. “I knew the program and I wanted to stay with the program. I didn't think we needed to change it.”

        Parent Lynn Wood decided to enroll her daughter in the kindergarten readiness program for her third year of preschool. Her two older children both attended the Holy Cross program Mrs. Anderson developed.

        “This would be our seventh year with Marilyn and the staff,” Mrs. Wood said. “It's the teacher that makes the program, not the school.”

        Registration for summer camp and fall classes is under way. Call 858-6999. Cash donations are also being accepted.

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