Nursery school celebrates 35th anniversary

'More than a school': GAPNS grows with every generation

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  • A photo of children from GAPNS’ first class in 1981 (Photo provided)

  • GAPNS 35th anniversary celebration organizers Suela Marku, Jaclyn Cicchiello, and Tara DeMaso (Photo provided)

  • Founding GAPNS parent Sue Moore recalls the preschool’s first years as her husband, Bill, looks on during the Big Night Out fundraiser (Photo provided)

"The best part of the cooperative is the parent participation. Everyone can be part of their child’s education. The parents are welcome in the class and run the committees and I think it is important for their children to see them as a partner in their education.”
Marie Moran

— This year marks the 35th anniversary that Goshen Area Parent Nursery School (GAPNS) has been introducing children in the community to education. Now, former students are enrolling their own children. Current and alumni parents and teachers celebrated the milestone anniversary recently with its Big Night Out Fundraiser at Delancey’s Restaurant.

Sue Moore, a founding GAPNS parent remembers, “Several parents wanted to open a school where the parents would not only have input, but actually participate in the classroom, enjoying a true hands-on experience.”

And so, GAPNS — a cooperative preschool — was born. Administration, budgeting and operations are all managed by the parents through an elected executive board. In 1981, when the school opened in space at the First Presbyterian Church in the Village of Goshen, sessions were offered for three and four-year-olds. Enrollment grew rapidly. Over the years the program offerings expanded to include Toddler (18 months) to pre-kindergarten programs, as well as summer camp.

“My best memories go back to our very first year as we suffered our original growing pains, and the crises that would arise, last minute, of course, and how we all came together, determined to succeed,” recalls Moore. “We were fortunate to have attracted many loving parents who were dedicated to the idea of a parent-run nursery school.”

She and her husband, Bill, never anticipated the school would be welcoming another generation of children all these years later.

The cooperative spirit
With exception of a few months in 1983, when the famous Brinks' robbery and murder trial was relocated from Rockland County and held across the street in the Surrogate’s Courthouse, GAPNS has always been located at the First Presbyterian Church. It was an exhausting autumn for the parents 33 years ago, who borrowed space from the Denton Presbyterian Church in New Hampton. Each Friday parents cleared away the school’s items and cleaned in order to make space for that church’s services and then replace everything for the start of school Monday. That’s the spirit at a cooperative — parents working together to ensure an enjoyable first educational experience for the children.

“GAPNS is so much more than a school — it’s a community,” says GAPNS President Emily Collado. “My children and I are lucky to have made many friendships that extend beyond our time together in the classroom,”

Marie Moran has been with GAPNS for eight years and says that her job teaching pre-K is the best in the world. “I think the best part of the cooperative is the parent participation. Everyone can be part of their child's education,” she explains. “The parents are welcome in the class and run the committees and I think it is important for their children to see them as a partner in their education.”

GAPNS grows with families
Teachers witness families grow. Two years ago a little boy in Moran’s class graduated. He was born the first year Moran taught at GAPNS when she had this little boy’s oldest sibling as a student. “I had all three boys from that family and I considered myself blessed to have them in my life and consider them more than just a school family,” she says.

Terry Arleo has been teaching at GAPNS for nearly two decades and notes an added benefit of a cooperative preschool — providing the opportunity for young families to “integrate into the community.” For example, this past winter the preschool hosted a community dinner for families and individuals in need at the Presbyterian Church and also donated 62 bags packed with essentials for local children entering foster care for the annual community service project.

Three years ago, Arleo’s very first class at the preschool graduated high school. This year a student looking to fulfill a college teaching requirement returned to observe in the very classroom Arleo had taught her 14 years prior.

“It was an exciting milestone because as a Goshen resident I have had the privilege of watching these children, whose education I helped begin, mature into the wonderful young adults they are today," she said.

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