Wesley Learning Center Celebrating Its 25th Anniversary
Wesley Learning Center is marking its 25th anniversary this year. The Sandy Hook preschool opened at Newtown United Methodist Church for the 1993-94 school year, and Director Rahnna Peck recently reflected on the history of the school.
“I was working for a dentist, and I decided I didn’t really like working for doctors anymore,” said Ms Peck recently.
She had already earned a business degree from Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, and she decided to go back to school at Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury, which had a different name at the time.
While working toward her teaching degree in Waterbury, Ms Peck met Elizabeth Zurosky, who would go on to be her assistant teacher at the preschool.
Meanwhile, Ms Peck remembers, United Methodist Church was creating a new building. She remembers speaking to people at the church and sharing her vision of having a preschool in the building. She thought it would be the perfect place for a preschool. She was granted the space, and that first year, the preschool had 32 children, all between 3 and 4 years old.
“That’s how it happened,” said Ms Peck, reflecting that the years have gone by fast.
That first year, there were some hurdles.
“I asked my mom for $2,000 so we could start buying furniture,” said Ms Peck, adding that she paid her mother back after the first year.
Ms Peck also had to wait for the first year to be over before she could apply for accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This school year, Ms Peck said she is in the process of applying for accreditation for the third time in the preschool’s history.
Every couple of years since that first year, Ms Peck said the preschool expanded by adding a new room or program. The business, she reflected, has changed since she first opened the preschool. There are more regulations and safety concerns now.
“We’re more flexible now [too]. You don’t have to come Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday; you can come whatever days your little heart wants to send your little child,” said Ms Peck.
The preschool added different program times to accommodate parents’ desires, and it added enrichment programs, Ms Peck explained.
Wesley Learning Center now occupies the whole building where it is located at Newtown United Methodist Church. The center’s programs include preschool programs, extended day programs, and enrichment programs.
Over the years, Ms Peck said she has enjoyed having the preschool be part of Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP) events, and she enjoys watching the 2-year-olds grow in the preschool program.
Ms Peck said if given the chance, she would never do anything differently. “I hope it keeps going,” Ms Peck said about the preschool’s future.
Wesley Learning Center is located at 92 Church Hill Road. More information about the preschool is available at wesleylearningcenter.org, and Ms Peck said interested parents can call for details about registering students for fall programs. According to Wesley Learning Center, it offers programs for children ages 2 through 6, and it offers a church-affiliated educational program, with children of all faiths and heritages welcome.