Family-focused island

Islesboro Preschool expands to serve children birth through age 5

Community celebrates grand opening Aug. 13
Aug 06, 2017
Courtesy of: Islesboro Preschool Islesboro Preschool Director Nancy Wuori stands in front of the island's new preschool building. A grand opening celebration is planned for Aug. 13, noon to 3 p.m.

Islesboro — Infants, toddlers and preschoolers on Islesboro now have a place to learn and grow as the Penobscot Bay community celebrates the opening this month of a new building housing one of the most comprehensive childcare programs on a Maine island.

From birth until kindergarten, 12 months a year, the children of residents and seasonal visitors will have access to the Islesboro Preschool program in a new 2,000-square-foot building tucked away among evergreens off the town’s main road. The preschool’s full-day, year-round schedule is designed to accommodate island parents, who commonly work multiple jobs and keep especially busy in the summer, when preschools in many communities shut down.

A grand opening celebration and tours are planned for Sunday, Aug. 13, noon to 3 p.m., at the new Islesboro Preschool, 152 Main Road. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. This investment in year-round childcare and early education is the community’s latest move to become "Maine’s best island for families."

Founded by parents in 1981 as a childcare co-op, Islesboro Preschool has occupied space for many years above the Town Office, but its second-floor location prohibited enrollment of children younger than 3. The new single-story, schoolhouse-red building houses two classrooms, one providing daycare for infants and toddlers and the other for preschoolers ages 2 ½ through 5.

Changing rooms, restrooms, a kitchen and laundry round out the facility, which was built by islanders with $750,000 raised from homeowners and island organizations to cover construction and operation.

“Our teachers and the children make the preschool a wonderful place,” said Islesboro Preschool Director Nancy Wuori, “but getting a home of our own after 36 years is the realization of a dream for all of us on Islesboro who believe in the importance of early childhood education.”

Two lead teachers and an aide will manage the classrooms under the direction of Wuori, who was among the preschool’s founders. The preschool operates on a combination of tuition, which is made affordable for all families, plus an annual subsidy from the town of Islesboro and continued fundraising by the nonprofit preschool’s board.

The expansion of Islesboro’s early childhood offerings adds to other reasons why Islesboro — a town of about 600 residents, only a 20-minute ferry ride from the mainland — is becoming one of Maine’s most livable islands, town officials say, and a great place for families:

• The town is installing an island-wide 1-gigabit fiber-optic broadband network that will open up new opportunities for work, education, connection and entertainment;

• Islesboro Central School, which spans kindergarten through 12th grade, is supporting students with personalized learning plans. Recent graduates of the high school, whose magnet program attracts mainland students as well, have gone on to Harvard, U.S. Naval Academy, Maine Maritime Academy, Smith College, University of Southern Maine, Rochester School of Technology, Middlebury College and a variety of professionally focused training programs;

• The Islesboro Community Center provides health, fitness, arts and cultural programs;

• Islesboro Affordable Property supports affordable rental of affordable housing;

• The island health center is open six days a week to provide families with acute care, physical exams, immunization, testing, management of chronic disease and referrals to mainland specialists;

• Public Safety provides ambulance, fire, emergency management and law enforcement;

• The book, film and technology collection of the Alice L. Pendleton Library is available to all four days a week and includes a large children’s section;

• For children too old for preschool, Islesboro Adventure Camp provides full-day summer activities for ages 6-12. Sailing, theater, nature and soccer camps also keep the summer busy and fun for kids; and

• The Beacon Project, the island’s central resource for eldercare needs, operates Boardman Cottage assisted-living home and provides in-home services.

“All-year childcare is part of what makes Islesboro a great place for families, and it allows everyone to benefit from the hard work that parents on this island are able to do while their children are being cared for and preparing for school,” said Arch Gillies, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “The public-private partnership that makes the preschool possible is a testament to the devotion that we all have to this magnificent island.”

Twelve months a year — five days a week in summer, and probably four in winter — Islesboro Preschool will be open 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. The new building has the capacity to accommodate 20 children — more than adequate space to accommodate today’s enrollment, with room to grow.

 

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