The Cherry Preschool Silver Anniversary: A Shout Out to its Founders

We hugged and laughed and even cried. There are bonds that never lessen, even with the passage of time, even when folks don’t see one another that often. Celebrating Warren W. Cherry Preschool’s 25th anniversary with the founders of the preschool reminded me of how powerful the connection is between thirteen people who came together at one moment in time to create something special that shaped all of our lives.

Founding Board -- (Back) Susan Jones, Debbie Boileve, Laurie Levy, Peg Culhane, Maggie Hessler, Barbara Goodman, Geoff Harlow, Caryn Weiner, (Front) Al Belmonte, Martha Belmonte, Jim Bernstein, & Seth Weinberger, not pictured -- Bill Banzhaf and Lisa Sawczuk

Founding Board now — (Back) Susan Jones, Debbie Boileve, Laurie Levy, Peg Culhane, Maggie Hessler, Barbara Goodman, Geoff Harlow, Caryn Weiner, (Front) Al Belmonte, Martha Belmonte, Jim Bernstein, Seth Weinberger, not pictured — Bill Banzhaf and Lisa Sawczuk

The creation of Cherry Preschool was an exercise in faith, determination, and the power of community. And it was a testament to the sage words of Mark Twain, “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

I have served on many boards and committees, but the Cherry Founding Board was the only one on which all of the members rolled up their sleeves to actually do the hard work. No task was too menial. No one griped about the enormous time commitment, the weekly meetings, and the constant need to raise money to fund the group’s vision.

Now, 25 years later, every member of the Founding Board attended the silver anniversary celebration. And in typical fashion, a member anonymously donated money to establish a scholarship fund in my name. I am so touched by and grateful for this honor. But I want these amazing people to know that, unlike President Trump, I alone could never have done it. We did it together.

One of the things unique to the Cherry Preschool culture, something we called “Cherryness,” is that the preschool is a team of teams. From the administrative staff to the board to the classrooms, we have always been a collaborative community. And that started back in January of 1992 when the Founding Board formed the first team that worked tireless to give birth to the school exactly nine months later.

No one doubts today that we were naïve and possibly a bit out of touch with reality when we started this journey. We had no business plan. We had no money. What we did have was a vision and passion and dedication to accomplish our goal. Except for legal and accounting help, our board did not include experts to tell us what could and could not be done. I think if it had, we would never have attempted it in the first place.

Founding staff -- (Back) Laurie Levy, Peg Culhane, Helene Zimmerman-Plotkin, Terry Beem, Julie Schiller, Rhonda Cohen (Front) Anne Donoghue. Amy May, Eileen Halperin, Kim Newman, Debbie Boileve. Not pictured -- Nancy Harris, Linda Jones, and Lisa Kull

Founding staff — (Back) Laurie Levy, Peg Culhane, Helene Zimmerman-Plotkin, Terry Beem, Julie Schiller, Rhonda Cohen (Front) Anne Donoghue. Amy May, Eileen Halperin, Kim Newman, Debbie Boileve. Not pictured — Nancy Harris, Linda Jones, & Lisa Kull

It is fitting that I am writing this at the beginning of teacher appreciation week because the founding staff of the preschool worked tirelessly, and without compensation, to paint walls, collect toys and books, and set up classrooms with makeshift shelving and storage. One of our favorites was turning a drawer on its side to hold hospital castoff bins of toys.

Those teachers all resigned with me from our previous early childhood program to join in the Founding Board’s delusion that we could create this new preschool. Like everyone involved in this journey, they had no backup plan. They had faith that they would have jobs that fall because they also never doubted we would succeed. Amazingly, several of them are still teaching at Cherry Preschool 25 years later.

The words of Margaret Mead perfectly capture the founding of Cherry Preschool:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Thank you to all who joined me in my impossible dream and came together to celebrate our achievement 25 years later.

Before

Before

After

After

images

visit_website_button

Leave a comment