A brand new preschool is getting ready for its grand opening, and it’s the first preschool to be based in the Tri-villages since Hurricane Irene closed the former preschool down in 2011.
The Village Preschool in Rodanthe, which was launched by the local Fair Haven United Methodist Church (UMC), is celebrating this milestone with an Open House at the church on Friday, March 1 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a “first day of school” on Monday, March 4.
Per Tim Fitch, Pastor of the Fair Haven UMC, the school fills a gap in early childhood education for northern Hatteras Island, as tri-village residents currently have to make a trip to Buxton or Nags Head for preschool care.
The Fair Haven UMC had an original preschool years before the Village Preschool was envisioned, but this first school dissipated when the community was flooded by Hurricane Irene storm surge.
“The church was destroyed, and the preschool had to be closed down,” said Fitch. “But we want every child on this island to have every ability to access education.”
It wasn’t until somewhat recently, when Fitch noticed an uptick in younger church members in 2018, that the idea for a new school was proposed, and the pieces fell into place from there.
The school has enlisted two experienced teachers, and will start their operations with half-day classes from 9:30 a.m. until noon. The space for the school has been transformed into two classrooms, which includes a “leaning lab” and a “creative lab.” Stocked with art stations, areas for creative play, and other fun features, students will switch from lab to lab, and will reconnect for snack time.
“Of course, if it’s nice outside, I’m a firm believer in letting kids go outside and run around,” said Fitch, “so we’re also working on redoing the playground which was destroyed by [Tropical Storm] Michael, and will have an outside play area – that’s the next step.”
Village Preschool will follow the Dare County School’s calendar, with the pilot program session lasting from March 4 until June 15, although the preschool is already examining options for summer camps and after-school care.
Parents can register at the Open House on Friday evening, but Fitch notes that there are options for families who want to connect with the school, but who may have financial hardships. “We are charging S275 a month, but if any parent can’t afford that, then contact me,” said Fitch. “I won’t let any child not be a part of this program – we need to make this work.”
Fitch also notes that students and their families don’t have to be a member of the Fair Haven UMC to join, and everyone in the community is welcome to come to the Open House, enroll in the inaugural session of Village Preschool, and get a jumpstart in their early education.
“[Our church] wants to be community driven, and we want the community to know we love them just as they are,” said Fitch. “And when our children walk into the Kindergarten classroom, we want them to be ready to go above and beyond.”