By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — The opening of an Early Childhood Center was a dream in the mind of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike when he came to Wakefield in July 2013 and his dream became a reality with the opening of school last September.
Only four months later, the school is said to be a success, according to Principal Margo Perriello, who went before the school board last night to sing its praises.
“The school has far exceeded my expectations — not just the building — but the comments we hear about the programs,” said Perriello.
Appropriately, the school’s “mascot” is a little yellow duck and it’s apparent that both Zrike and Perriello got their “ducks in a row” before opening the school.
Tonight, a pre-school information and registration session will be held at the school for current and new families. Perriello pointed out that registration will end before February vacation and that priority will be given to current families. A $50 deposit is required to hold space and a lottery will be held only if necessary.
Registration forms are on the Doyle School website and in the school office.
Parents of the youngest school set will be happy to know that the current tuition rate of $5,000 per year for five full days will remain the same for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Other tuition rates are: $2,500 for five half-days, $1,500 for three half-days and $1,000 for two half-days.
“We will be going into our second year, so we decided to keep tuition the same as this year,” said Dr. Zrike.
Fees, Perriello added, are in line with what other local communities charge.
The school got its start late last spring and into the summer with the refurbishing of the old Doyle School on Paul Avenue. Painting crews, electricians from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department and workers from the Department of Public Works labored diligently to spruce up the interior space. A new child-size toilet was even added to one of the rest rooms.
Today, the school is a bright, welcoming learning center where children ages 3 to 5 gain a healthy perspective on what education is all about.
During her 20-minute presentation last night, Perriello explained that school’s philosophy includes keeping children in an environment where they feel safe, secure and respected; engaging them in learning through play; building relationships with other children and adults and encouraging creativity and nurturing their imaginations.
As an example of creative play, children are allowed to use shaving cream and paint to express themselves and are designed to tie in with academics. Other areas of curriculum include technology, engaging in text through story and touching at the sensory table.
Perriello explained that children focus on advancing skills through developmental curriculum and activities that involved language acquisition, social and cognitive skills, fine and gross motor skills and daily living skills, all aligned with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pre-kindergarten frameworks.
With a current enrollment at 124 children, the proposed number of classrooms for children ages 3 and 4 are as follows:
• Integrated autistic spectrum disorder (ASD): Two full-day classrooms.
• Integrated social communication: One full-day classroom.
• Medically fragile: One full-day classroom.
• Integrated half-day: Two half-day classrooms.
• General education: One full-day classroom (with a possible second, based on interest)