Parents face unpleasant changes with Children’s School Closing; teacher loss

By Jen Smith
April 18, 2002

The parents of the students enrolled in Cabrini College’s Children’s School are up in arms over the recent changes in the school’s curriculum. According to many accounts, the recent alterations in curriculum have brought about unpleasant and complicated changes in their children’s education.

“We were devastated by the destruction of a very beautiful program,” said Reeves Swainston, a parent.

“And what made it worse, was that this change came about so abruptly, and completely without notice.”

The first letter to the parents came out in February, instructing that changes in the curriculum were on the horizon.

A meeting of the parents and the board followed, including such Cabrini faculty as Dr. Jonnie Guerra and Dr. Dawn Middleton.

The meeting consisted of the parents, the faculty and a mediator, so that all questions would be fairly addressed.

Amy Johnson, a working mother who has been with the children’s school for ten years, is deeply saddened and strongly disappointed by the recent changes and the ways in which they were presented to the parents.

“We were just told.” Johnson said. “In January we were told that we didn’t have summer camp, in February they told our teachers that they would have to reapply for their jobs, and in March we were told that they were removing before and after school daycare. March is when you sign up for daycare. It was too late, and now I’m on a waiting list.”

Johnson isn’t the only parent who is affected by the recent changes. Many parents, who deeply loved and supported this school, are now looking for an equally good educational program for their children to begin in the fall. However, according to parents, it is hard to find the kind of compassionate, loving environment that Cabrini’s Children’s School once offered.

” 50 percent of these parents are in the education field, so we knew what we were looking for when we were looking for a preschool.” Said Johnson.

The price tag that comes along with Cabrini’s children’s school isn’t a small one, but the parents all felt that the bill was worthwhile.

“It is the second highest tuition in the area. But we love those teachers, and we loved that school. We’re all in this together, there is just a myriad of people in this school who would have been willing to help if they needed it.” Johnson said.

At the meeting between parents and administration in March, the parents presented the question: “How does the administration feel that eliminating the before and after school program could be the better model?”

According to the parents, their question was never answered. The other side to this story lies in the teachers whose jobs now lay on the line for rehire next year. Linda Glavin, a teacher at the children’s school, and supporter of the new curriculum had her own opinions.

“I think it is really exciting that more college students will be there and that we’ll get to work with the very young and with young adults.” Glavin said. The recent changes in the curriculum are allowing for more education majors to gain hands on experience at the school.

“This new situation is going to be very beneficial to college students who will be able to learn in a very secure environment. They will get to experience teaching in a part of the Cabrini family.” Glavin said.

At the heart of this battle lies Dr. Dawn Middleton, Education Department Chair. Despite the bitter complaints by parents of unreasonably short notice and the demise of the institution, which they chose to entrust with their children, Middleton feels positively about the new change in curriculum.

“We are in the process of enrolling children for September. The

enrollment is going well. Those parents looking for daycare hours are not considering

The Children’s School of Cabrini College. The reactions from incoming parents and children have been positive.” Middleton said.

In the end, the answers become no clearer. There is an administration that feels without fault that they are doing what is best for the school, and parents who are unable to rearrange their schedules around the impossible hours of a standard preschool program, but want nothing less than the best for their kids.

“Part of growing up is play and social life, learning to socialize with kids who are older and younger. It was a wonderful philosophy; unfortunately, it doesn’t fit what they envision any more. The only problem is, they never told us what they envision.” Swainston said.

“I am so sad, because we were so happy there. I used to recommend this school to everybody, and now I don’t recommend it to anybody.” Johnson said.

Regardless of anyone’s hesitation to the change, it will undoubtedly be taking place beginning fall of this year.

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Jen Smith

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