Westport superintendent explores way to keep pre-K at Staples
Palmer decided the Play School program would be eliminated when it was discovered Linda McClary — the instructor who oversees the preschool and teaches the accompanying child development courses — did not possess the required family and consumer science certification to do so.
Since the certification is so rare (193 are actively certified to teach a consumer science or life skills class in the state), Palmer had trouble finding a teacher who possessed the certification. She subsequently reached out to Norwalk Community College to see if officials would be interested in partnering to offer a class where Staples students could get experience teaching preschool for college credit.
The market-rate program, which needs at least 12 preschoolers to be financially viable, would run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. so school employees would have both preschool and day care. Palmer said, “Thirty staff said they were interested. We are very excited, and we are in a full court press to get this going by the fall.”
Joan Parris, director of early childhood community education at NCC, said the conversation is in “the beginning stages” and NCC is “looking forward to the collaboration.”
McClary, who has years of experience and is beloved by students, will be retained as a full-time teacher in a different capacity. Palmer said going forward she welcomes McClary’s advice on the program, but cannot offer her a central teaching role at the preschool.
The only possible roadblock, Palmer said, would be if interested parents have already submitted deposits at other preschools and cannot obtain a refund.
There will be a psychology of child development course offered at the high school designed to focus on the study of physical, social and cognitive development and growth of a child from conception to school age.