Imagine a school where children (aged 2 1/2 to 5) feel welcome and comfortable. They are warmly greeted by caring, kind teachers each day. They engage in free play with a wide variety of stimulating, educational toys, which are rotated on a weekly basis. Sensory activities including water, sand, and play dough, are offered daily. Children create their own art projects, such as paintings, collages, and seasonally appropriate crafts. In circle time, they learn each other’s names and discuss a monthly theme (covering social skills and science topics). They sing songs and rhymes, read stories, and have a snack together. A librarian visits monthly for story time and videos. A musician visits regularly with instruments and sing-alongs. Children play sports and drive plasma cars in the gym. They have outdoor play in the playground (weather permitting). There are parties for holidays, and special events such as a teddy bears’ picnic. Throughout the morning or afternoon, children are treated lovingly and respectfully and refer to each other as friends. If this sounds like the perfect introduction to school for your child, then you would be in agreement with the hundreds of families who have chosen St. Martin’s Nursery School for their children over the past fifty years.
St. Martin’s Nursery School is a non-denominational, non-profit nursery school which was established in 1964. It is located in the Carlingwood area, at 2120 Prince Charles Drive (the lower level of St. Martin’s Anglican Church). The school has been a well-loved fixture in the neighbourhood, and even attracts families from as far afield as Carp, Kanata, Barrhaven, Aylmer, and Gatineau. Many children are the second generation of their families to attend. n alternative half-day junior kindergarten (JK) program, derived from early childhood education and the Ontario system, is also offered at St. Martin’s. Children in JK spend time in the classroom with an engaging teacher in addition to the everyday nursery school activities. They emerge extraordinarily well-prepared to continue their studies, thanks to the teacher’s commitment and the small child-teacher ratio. St. Martin’s has also offered senior kindergarten classes when there is sufficient interest.
St. Martin’s has always been a busy school. However, this year, enrolment has been surprisingly low, perhaps because full-day kindergarten is now being offered at nearby public schools. Families were recently shocked and dismayed to learn that due to insufficient registration, the school would be shut down at the end of December. After a meeting with the school’s board, families were allowed to try to recruit more children and explore other options to keep the school open.
I am a stay-at-home mother of five children, ranging in age from 2-9. I discovered St. Martin’s six years ago, when my oldest was 3 and I enrolled him in the nursery school program. It was my first experience sending a child to school, so I closely observed the daily routine, and got to know the staff. The more I saw of the school, the more I loved it. It is such a positive place for children to begin their education. My son also took great pride in his school and daily activities. He loved it so much he would cry if he had to stay home sick! When he finished nursery school, we didn’t want him to leave yet, so we enrolled him in JK. Since then, I have had at least one child at St. Martin’s every year. My three oldest children have all graduated from the JK program. My two youngest sons are attending now.
My 3 year old son in JK has already learned the days of the week, months of the year, and how to print the first letter of his name. Almost every day he comes home reciting a rhyme or singing a song he learned in class. My 2 year old is in his first year of nursery school and has adjusted remarkably quickly. Yesterday when I picked him up, he said “Mama, I had so much fun.” He is particularly proud of his art work. My three oldest children still talk about their experiences at St. Martin’s. They want to return for visits any chance they get. When they do, all the teachers still remember their names.
The thought of this lovely school closing its doors forever brings me to tears. I want it to stay open for years to come, not only for my own children, but for all the other children who could benefit. Don’t miss the chance for your child to experience this wonderful school! Registration is ongoing. There is also a waiting list for families who wish their children to begin in January. Classes will continue into the new year provided that there is sufficient interest, so act quickly! Children can attend two, three or five mornings or afternoons per week. Early drop-off, lunch and extended day options are also available. Please contact the school director, Sheila Kennedy, at 613-722-7500, or see the school website stmartinsns.ncf.ca for further details.
If you would like to support St. Martin’s, a wine tasting and silent auction fundraiser will be held there November 14 from 7-9pm. To buy tickets or make a donation, use this link.