Learn More About O.D.N.S.
On this page, you will find articles from O.D.N.S.' director and teachers that include interesting information about preschool-age children, and also articles about some recent learning activities and events at O.D.N.S.
May News from ODNS
Melinda Foran-Bibko, Asst. Director
The month of May brings Open Door’s annual Spring Art Show presented by our 4- and 5-year-old classes. The children have been experimenting with various art techniques and their masterpieces will be on display for the first few weeks of May. All are welcome to view the children’s creations during this time.
Our preschool mothers will be honored in their children’s classrooms with the time honored “Mother’s Day Tea” on May 8th and 9th. On this day the children sing specially prepared songs, serve tea and treats, and present their mothers with a handmade gift.
Two other time-honored traditions are a field trip to the Dream Castle (behind Island Park) and the 3-year-old class trip on a Metro bus to Anderson’s for a tour and tasty treat. For some students, the year will end with a class picnic, while others will continue with our new “Summer Session” following the Memorial Day weekend.
There are still openings for the 2013-2014 school year. You can find more information about our school on this web site or by calling 633-1655.
Thank you to our excellent staff and to the Board of Directors for a job well done during the 2012-2013 school year. We are also blessed to be a part of WUMC and are grateful for your many years of support.
New Programs at Open Door
Melinda Foran-Bibko, Asst. Director
New this year . . . Open Door Nursery School will be offering two new programs for the children. The first, Summer Session, is a 3-day-per-week, 3 week program starting on May 28th. This program will extend the school year for 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old students. The Summer Session will include outdoor games and activities, story time, water play, music, dramatic play, arts and crafts, nature study, and community excursions. This program is designed for currently enrolled children.
Our other new program starting in the Fall of 2013 is Literature Day for 3's. This is an author-based program that incorporates age-appropriate books by a different children’s author each week with related activities and snacks. The program will run each Friday morning starting September 27th and continue throughout the school year.
ODNS Appoints New Director
The Board of Open Door Nursery School is pleased to announce the appointment of Melinda Foran-Bibko as its new Director effective June 2013. Melinda has been acting as assistant director this past year, accepting responsibilities and new challenges with enthusiasm.
An experienced teacher, Melinda earned her degree in Early Childhood Education from Buffalo State College. Her career took her to positions in Massachusetts and Connecticut before moving with her family to East Amherst. Her children attended ODNS and that is where her relationship with the school began. Hired as a staff member in 1997 she began a 12 yr. career at ODNS the majority of which was spent teaching and developing curriculum for the 5 yr. old K-Readiness class.
A location change in her husband’s job required a family move to Tennessee for the next five years. There she worked as a reading specialist in a local school district.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear that Melinda’s family was relocating back to the Williamsville area in 2011. One of her first calls was to ODNS to see if there were any staff openings. She was warmly welcomed back as a permanent sub until a teaching position became available. In August of 2012, she applied for the position of director and 3 yr. old teacher for the 2013-2014 school year and has spent the last year mentoring the job with the current director, Judy Knab.
Asked about her thoughts on her new appointment Melinda said, "I was hired by the first director of ODNS Susan Strainchamps, and I've worked side by side with Judy Knab for years. Both of these women have spent their careers educating young children and creating the "magic" and traditions at Open Door. I am honored and excited at the opportunity to continue in their footsteps, while moving the school forward with an amazing and devoted staff."
Her professionalism, dedication and passion for the core values of ODNS will ensure its future as an outstanding preschool in the Williamsville area for years to come. Congratulations and welcome back Melinda Foran-Bibko!
Three Community Treasures Will Retire From Open Door
When it comes to choosing a nursery school, all parents want the very best for their children. We dream of finding a place that will teach those who are most precious to us how to be kind and generous, how to make friends and think independently, how to laugh, be silly, and grow through education into the person they have the potential to be. Preschool is the foundation for education. It is where our children learn that they CAN LOVE school.
Open Door Nursery School has the curriculum to provide this spirit of learning and creativity, but the secret to their success lies within the truly dedicated, talented, and loving staff. At the end of this school year, three of our educating family members will retire: Judy Knab, Wendy Amuso, and Ellen Loos. These women are responsible for maintaining our school’s reputation through their passion to inspire.
Open Door has a mystical energy. One morning the children may be transported to a farm, or a trip to the rain forest, a plunge into the sea, or skipping into fairytale land. They use all of their senses to learn about the world around them. At school they watch eagerly for the door to swing open so they can run inside, sometimes even forgetting a kiss goodbye. Left in the hallway, the parents are comforted by witnessing a teacher/student relationship transform from uncertainty into respect, admiration, and even love all within a school year. We have been blessed to find teachers that can create warmth of this magnitude. Their enthusiasm and excitement for educating have no limits. Here are their thoughts.
Judy Knab reflecting on her 30-year relationship with ODNS . . .
My four daughters attended Open Door throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It was through my eyes as a parent that my love for the school took shape and grew. When I was asked to join the staff in 1995, there was not a bit of hesitation. Feeling a bit like “Peter Pan,” I greeted each new class of 3-year-olds for the last 18 years as if it were my first. The curriculum for 3’s remains timeless: learning through socialization, exploration, and imaginative play. It was a joy to create an environment each day rich in these goals and observe the student’s growth as the years flew by.
I am very grateful to the ODNS teachers who came before me. Their creative, interdisciplinary approach to early childhood education remains intact today. Forty-four years later, its reputation as a premier nursery school is widely known in our community. I am also grateful for the support given to the school by the WUMC faith community. It has been a blessing to work with many outstanding staff members, whose top priority were always their students. The many ODNS families and children that touched my heart will remain a constant source of happiness.
This new season in my life will allow many opportunities to fill in the spaces. I look forward to traveling with my husband Ed and spending time with my daughters, families, and three grandchildren (two of whom have attended ODNS). The circle of life continues!
Wendy Amuso remembers . . .
When I first began teaching back in 1973, I was not only the teacher, but the lunch cook and bus driver in a small school on Long Island. By the time I came to Open Door Nursery School, I was a seasoned teacher, ready to begin the second half of my teaching career. Open Door gave me the opportunity to grow as a teacher. I learned so much about what 3- and 4-year-old children could do. I grew tremendously as a teacher and became lifelong friends with my peers. I will always cherish my years at Open Door and will miss the opportunity to teach young children every day.
Ellen Loos and her thoughts on Open Door . . .
Little did I know when I started teaching at Open Door Nursery School 14 years ago that I would learn more than I taught. I learned that Open Door is a place of all-encompassing love for each child that walks through its doors. I learned that the staff is second to none. We are not just co-workers, but women who bond together in friendship through sharing our ups and downs, worries and joys, triumphs and failures. The parents I have encountered taught me that the love they have for their children is a priority in their lives, and that they will do all they can to make Open Door a great experience for them. The children have taught me that they embrace the love we show them in a way that warms my heart each and every day. They teach me that there is no limit to the amount of love they have, their enthusiasm for learning, and their desire to make their teachers happy. Nothing makes me happier than looking in their faces and seeing the joy that they are feeling.
I am sad to leave Open Door, but know that it is the right thing to do at this point in my life. As I leave, I take my many lessons with me and will always have a very special place in my heart for the children, staff and parents of Open Door. It has been a wonderful experience and hopefully I will be back to visit often.
As a school, we are fortunate to have an experienced staff to maintain what has taken decades to accomplish. Our mission continues by placing the love of educating children first and carrying on the traditions paved by these women. On behalf of the board at Open Door and the countless parents and children who will always remember you as our first teachers, the adventures that you created, and that the gingerbread man was hiding in the gym, thank you ladies for making our preschool dreams come true. Each one of you is a blessing, a treasure to the community, and an asset to all our lives.
Kindergarten - Ready or Not?
Gail Sexton, Preschool Teacher
The kindergarten classroom of the 21st century is far different from the classes in past years. Whereas past programs emphasized art, music, and socializing, today’s kindergartens may emphasize academics and have high expectations for your children. Gone are the days of automatically placing all children who meet the cut-off date for starting school in a kindergarten class. This has left parents wondering, "Is my child ready for kindergarten?"
Many factors go into determining kindergarten readiness. Preschool teachers know your child’s behavior in a group setting and can provide valuable insight into your child’s abilities.
In determining kindergarten readiness, take into account your child’s:
- Interest in and readiness to learn
- Attention span
- Listening skills
- Ability to follow directions and rules
- Physical stamina
- Emotional readiness
- Age and birth date
Suppose you decide that your child is not ready for kindergarten. A Five-Year-Old Kindergarten Readiness Program may be the answer. This type of program is geared to the younger “late birthday” child and acts as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten.
A quality Kindergarten Readiness Program provides:
- Curriculum specifically geared to younger/less mature children
- Opportunity for gaining social confidence
- Practice in developing independence
- Reading readiness instruction
- Beginning math activities
- Free time for art and music exploration
- Fine and gross motor activities
Open Door Nursery School offers just such a program. Our Kindergarten Readiness Program is specifically designed as an enhanced, enriched program geared for children who need an additional year of preschool before entering kindergarten. For those parents looking for a place for their “wonderful, but not quite ready for kindergarten child,” the Open Door Nursery School Kindergarten Readiness Program may be the perfect fit. For more information or to arrange a visit of Open Door Nursery School, please contact Judy Knab, Director, at 716-633-1655.
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