Geneseo Nursery School starts fundraiser to avoid shutdown

The Geneseo Nursery School is conducting an online fundraiser in an attempt to keep its academic and social programs running through June 2016. This fundraiser has a goal of $5,000; since its creation on Sept. 2, the nursery school’s GoFundMe page has raised over $1,900. Donations go toward paying for classroom supplies, space rental costs and personnel. The school was founded by the Geneseo branch of the American Association of University Women and has served young children in the community since 1961. President of Geneseo Nursery School’s board of directors Amanda Marino, interim Milne Library director and treasurer of the Geneseo Nursery School Kate Pitcher and membership coordinator Meggan Holzwarth all signed the GoFundMe page.

“We had a student volunteer in the classroom last year who had mentioned setting up a GoFundMe page,” Pitcher said. “We didn’t really pursue it, but this year because of our dire financial situation, we explored it and found that it’s a nice technological way to reach out to more people.”

According to Pitcher, the nursery school was able to raise over $1,000 through raffles and parent donations during the 2014-2015 school year. That, however, was over the course of 12 months. The current online fundraiser has proven to be more effective, but the school also faces more intense financial circumstances.

“There are more options for parents,” Pitcher said. “There are several different preschools in the area and there are also changing demographics. There are fewer children in the area than there used to be. Our enrollments have dropped significantly,” Pitcher said.

The nursery school offers one class for 3-year-olds and one for 4-year-olds. In the past, there have been as many as 36 children between the two classes. Now, those classes have a cap of 20 total children.

According to Pitcher, early childhood education can be taken for granted by adults and students alike in the Geneseo community. “We talk a lot about academic achievement at Geneseo, but early childhood is when kids are first developing literacy skills,” she said. “They’re learning to love going to school. They’re embracing reading as well as interaction with teachers and other children.”

Pitcher added that student volunteers in the classroom are always welcome. “This is a chance for students to give back to the local community,” she said.

Jennifer King—a professor in Geneseo’s Ella Cline Shear School of Education—also emphasized the importance of early childhood education.

“There’s a large body of research that tells us that early childhood education is vital to children’s literacy and other development throughout the rest of their schooling years, as well as their success in school moving forward,” she said. “It’s vital that we provide that for our youngest children, because if we don’t, we’re already leaving them behind.”

The nursery is also a cooperative school, meaning that it relies heavily on parental involvement in order to operate. According to King, that should not be overlooked.

“It’s really important to have that mutual partnership between parents and teachers,” she said, “And to realize that learning takes place across those contexts from a very young age.”

Though there is still work to be done, the board members have already posted two updates to the GoFundMe page expressing their gratitude for all of the donations received thus far.

“The response that we’ve gotten has been amazing,” Pitcher said. “It’s been really, really heartwarming.”u