School's Closing Stirs Emotions 

I am a parent of a child attending the Newbury Center for Early Childhood Education at the Seminary (Union-PSCE). Our family is still appalled over the seminary's treatment of Newbury families since the January announcement of the closure of the school ("Jilted Parents Plan to Relocate Seminary Day-Care Facility," Street Talk, April 18). This school has been a valuable part of our neighborhood for 50 years.

A core group of parents are meeting regularly to establish a new school operating under the same principles in a nearby location. Our main problem has been in recruiting new families. Although the seminary officials seem to believe otherwise, the January closure announcement left us little time to organize materials for prospective parents. Most preschools in the area begin their application processes in January, so most of our current and prospective families explored other options when the closure announcement was made, assuming there was no alternative. The seminary's timing has sabotaged our efforts to enroll enough students for a vital school for 2007-08. We need a minimum of 10 students signed up for the fall by May 31.

We requested that the center be allowed to continue for another year while we prepare at a new location, but the outgoing president of PSCE, Louis Weeks, said no. We then requested that since the facility would not be in use next year we be allowed to occupy it, but we were told that a high rent would be charged. Finally, we asked that we be allowed to borrow or take with us the educational materials (many of which have been donated by families) and some of the furnishings. Although this request for materials has not expressly been denied, we understand from your article that PSCE plans to donate $2,500 to our program instead. We have not yet seen any of these funds.

We believe if seminary officials spent time observing in the classroom they would realize what a very Christian organization they are destroying.

Catherine Wood

After I read the article about the closing of the Newbury Center, I had to respond. There are several inaccuracies in the story. In 1957, Newbury opened as a theology-based demonstration kindergarten. At the time, it was on the cutting edge of education, and the founder, Josephine Newbury, also wrote books about how to work with young children in church as well as school settings. As a student at the seminary in the 1980s, I used her books, and still do, in my work at Newbury.

While many of her stories are dated, there is much good still to be found in her philosophy. However, educational practices don't remain the same. Therefore, we incorporate other educational theories in our program as well.

Currently, Newbury is a preschool program, not a day-care center. We run half-days, five mornings a week, for the nine-month school year, following Union-PSCE's own school calendar. This is important because where children enter day-care programs throughout the year, preschools begin in September with a set class roster, and they remain in the school until the following May.

In October and November, some of the best schools are recruiting for the following school year and by February are mailing acceptance letters to families.

Thus, finding out about the closing of our school in January gave our parents precious little time to first grieve for what had been lost and then search for alternatives. It has also created an uphill battle for us in starting our school anew, since once again, most parents have already made their choices for the following school year.

Our accreditation denotes programs of highest quality. It is disappointing that the administration was not more communicative with us about their plans and did not give us more time to cope with this news which affects all of us so deeply.

Fran Withrow
Newbury Center Teacher

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