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Castleberry Fairs

Co-op preschool may close if enrollment stays low



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OSSIPEE CO-OP PRESCHOOL TEACHER Tani Vincent leads a lesson last week with students (l to r), Karleigh, Owen, Billy, and Carly. Daymond Steer. (click for larger version)
October 06, 2010
OSSIPEE — Three-year-old Billy went on a quest to photograph an imaginary bear with a few of his friends at Ossipee Co-op Preschool last week.

The children seem to thoroughly enjoy themselves, but they are probably unaware that drastically low enrollment this year threatens to end the bear hunts and all the other activities they enjoy. The 28-year-old co-op is struggling and is now reaching out to the community for more students and donations.

This "bear hunt," led by teacher, Tani Vincent, involved pretending to walk over a bridge, through a wheat field, canoeing across a river and eventually into a dark cave where they took a picture of a bear. In reality, the game, set to a song, involved prancing around the school and acting out the various scenes. During the bear hunt, the children smiled, laughed and generally got their wiggles out before "Ms. Tani" moved on to her arts and crafts lesson.

In a typical year, the preschool would have about a dozen students ages three and four. But this year, there are only four students. Nobody at the co-op knows why that's the case. The co-op needs about a half dozen children to function well financially, said President Janice Andrea.

"The kids are doing great, but we'd love them to have more friends," said Vincent.

The co-op is located at the Second Congregational Church in Ossipee at 19 Court House Square (near the corner of Route 28 and Route 171). The co-op is not a church program. It just shares the space.

The program runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The preschool is a 501c3 run by parents. The preschool follows the Governor Wentworth School District year. It has a board of directors and various volunteer committees. Vincent is the co-op's only paid employee.

Every parent is encouraged to participate at any level they can. Volunteering can range from being in the classroom, fundraising, to bringing in supplies, said Membership Coordinator Kimberly Seamans of Effingham.

"This is the closest thing you can get to home schooling with a professional teacher," said Seamans. "This is not kid storage."

Seamans said when her son attended the preschool he learned about following a routine and various academic lessons that helped him when he got to kindergarten. For example, he learned what it's like to take a school bus during a field trip to The Nick in Wolfeboro. The program also helped his social skills by giving him a venue to interact with other children his age.

The students do things like have story time, play educational games, develop friendships, learn the calendar and colors, said Vincent. Children also enjoy playing on the newly refurbished playground, which includes a popular airplane seesaw.

"I like toys and colors: Green, red, orange and blue, " said Billy.

As a fundraiser, the co-op is selling the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's wildlife themed 2011 calendars. The deadline is Oct. 15. The co-op costs $115 per month and there is a $75 registration fee. Tuition assistance is available.

The Preschool can be found on Facebook. Its phone number is 539-6145.

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