How does a devoted parent provide her children with a well-rounded, quality education without sacrificing quality of life? That question is reflective of the universal struggle of the 21st century parent, and it’s the question I asked myself as I compiled a list of preschools to visit for my son, Maher. Thankfully, the answer came in the form of the District 20 Prek Center Z072 located at 8501 5th Avenue, just a stone’s throw away from my home!
I was fortunate enough to be able to enroll my children in a wide range of activities before they were enrolled in school. These include music classes, baby yoga and mommy and me programs. There are programs galore. If it meant bonding with my children while encouraging the neural branching of their precious little brains, I was in! Those experiences really set the tone for what I looked for, and eventually found, in my pursuit of the perfect preschool for Maher.
The expectations of our children are higher than ever before and thankfully, Mayor de Blasio was willing and able to flawlessly implement a program that teaches our children through play, while maintaining structures, routines and enforcing core values that all young children should be exposed to from a young age. Based on my experience I can vehemently advocate for this program, and specifically this center!
I remember visiting the school for the first time about a year ago. I anticipated that my initial impression would be that of the parent who struggles with the concept of full day enrollment (Maher was previously enrolled in a half day nursery school program). My reaction, instead, was that this specific center would be an extension of our home. That is precisely what is has proven to be. The site coordinator, Miss Connie Pitsoulis, was enthusiastic, warm, welcoming, and most of all, well versed on the program and its implications on its students and their families. She was (and continues to be) such a delightful resource.
The most difficult part of the application process was waiting for the results! I knew that the center was right for Maher from my first visit and that was reaffirmed when I brought him in for enrollment shortly after receiving his acceptance letter. The teacher, Miss Faye Donas, came out of the classroom to greet him and immediately welcomed him in! It was such a pleasant surprise. Miss Pitsoulis, Miss Faye and the assistant teachers, Miss Christine and Miss Donna, took turns giving him a tour, asking his interests, and incorporating him in their classroom routine. It was a flawless experience that left Maher wanting to start before September. At that moment I realized that Maher was receiving the individualized attention and sense of community that are often associated with private schools.
Since the start of his preschool journey—which, I must add, began with Maher running toward Miss Pitsoulis and giving her a warm hug upon entering the school—I have been overwhelming impressed by the staff, teachers and curriculum. The family engagement activities that have been planned so far have been phenomenal. We have taken a class trip to the park, we’ve celebrated the diversity of the class, staff and teachers on United Nations Day, and the children celebrated Halloween in their costumes while performing for their families and friends! Parents are encouraged to get involved via the aforementioned engagement activities as well as through monthly meetings. The students’ families and teachers work together to lessen the divide sometimes exists between school and home routines because, after all, we have become somewhat of an extended family.
I’m looking forward to all that the rest of the school year has to offer, as I watch Maher continually grow and flourish here.
Sophia Ahmad Ibrahim-Parent