Every day at North Branch preschool (or nursery) is a unique mix of indoor and outdoor experiences. Our lovely, light-filled nursery classroom has a large wooden loft for imaginative indoor play and reading. The room has a separate door to the outside, allowing nursery students the opportunity to play on the deck, playground or in the classroom. Students spend their mornings engaged in circle time, reading, bread baking, music, singing, art, gardening, dress-up, hand-works and other age-appropriate activities. Our academic goals for this age include literacy activities, number concepts, science lessons and social development in a group setting. NBS preschoolers also have special weekly activities, such as yoga and treasure hunts. We also do seasonal activities, such as Color Week and the popular Vehicle Week (everyone brings in their trikes or bikes for special riding games and activities).
At North Branch, we work to foster true friendships between children of varied ages. On Tuesdays, “Book Buddy” teams pair older and younger students for weekly reading and the opportunity to forge a special relationship. The nursery students will often eagerly search out their Book Buddy on the playground or during lunch. Book Buddies also pair up during special school events, providing the younger students with a trusted guide.
The North Branch preschool program is accredited by the Virginia Department of Social Services. Our teacher-student ratio is 8-1, and right now we also have a parent assistant in the classroom every day. Please scroll all the way down the page for a sample daily schedule. North Branch begins accepting nursery students at 2 years, 9 months of age. Our program is run by teachers Toni Ranieri and Jennifer Stuart.
Preschool Teacher Toni Ranieri’s attention to the personal development of each child creates an environment for individuality to shine. She has strong interests in conflict resolution skills and science/nature studies that come into play in the classroom every day. These talents, combined with her bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Masters in Teaching, lead students into active engagement in the learning process. During her 16 years of working at North Branch as both a Nursery and science teacher, she has also worked summers in nature programs at Montessori, Wintergreen, and Camp Dogwood. Recently Toni took a sabbatical in which she explored a variety of academic programs, including teaching children in Guatemala and South Korea, working in a summer remedial reading program, and teaching Educational Psychology online for National University. During this period she was also earning her Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Mary Baldwin College and observing many public school classes. Toni is very happy to be back home with the children of North Branch, sharing all she has learned. Toni’s two daughters both graduated from NBS.
Preschool Teacher Jennifer Stuart has been with us for five years. In addition to her training from North Branch School, she has ten years of early education training and experience. Jennifer’s knowledge of the field comes from Grandmother’s House of Learning and Development, Nelson County Parks and Recreation, Randolph Macon Nursery School, Boar’s Head Inn’s children department, Lynchburg Community Action Group’s Headstart, Nelson County High School, Randolph Macon Woman’s College, and Mary Baldwin College. Jennifer is passionate about education, music, and dance and is thrilled to be a part of the North Branch Community.
A sample daily schedule:
8:30-9am – Arrival
8:30-9:45 – Choosing time and free play
9:45-10:00 – Clean-up
10-10:30 – Snack
10:30-10-:45 – Group Problem Solving
10:45-11:30 – Outside
11:30-12pm – Circle Time
12-12:30 – Lunch
12:30 – Pick-up