Montclair Community Pre-K: A Safe and Fun Environment

The Montclair Community Pre-K gives all children from any background the opportunity to learn and grow academically with a fun, safe and natural experience.

At the Montclair Community Pre-K every child is welcomed!

Montclair Community Pre-K
Photo by Emma Gallof for The Montclair Dispatch.

The Montclair Community Pre-K is a non-profit preschool, located at 49 Orange Road. Run by Executive Director, Stephanie Fitzgerald, the Montclair Community Pre-K was founded 20 years ago, and since then, the school has never turned anyone way for a disability or an inability to pay, making the school extremely special to have in our town.

The Montclair Community Pre-K has a play based curriculum, focusing on the experiential “hands on, minds on” program. Through this program, students often use projects to deeply explore a topic. With the ongoing construction of the hotel and apartments occurring on the same street, many classrooms began to focus on architecture, by filling science centers with tools and blueprints, along with books on construction.

One classroom even used this as inspiration for an architecture project. Students went out and observed buildings being created, along the neighborhood in general, including a tour of Raymond’s. Students then went back to their classroom and discussed what they observed, and how to create similar buildings themselves. The class was asked to create and design their own building, which they decided to make a restaurant. They used their knowledge of architecture and pictures of buildings from town to create blueprints, and ultimately the restaurant itself.

The Montclair Community Pre-K also utilizes the STEAM learning system, which integrates art into each activity students do. In the spring, the school hosts a STEAM fair to showcase some of the projects that classes have done for the rest of the school.

Teachers at MCPK integrate key learning skills into every activity. With the restaurant project, along with learning about architecture, teachers would ask students to count the number of windows and name all the shapes of being used. By doing this, students were able to learn more about numbers, as well as learn terms like “arched window” and practice naming other geometric shapes. Students also had to vote on each aspect of the building and work together to build each piece, which helped students gain social skills by working with other classmates.

At the Montclair Community Pre-K, assessments align with common core standards. Teachers have checklists they follow to make sure each individual student is progressing in areas such as problem solving and observation skills. Simple tasks, such as telling what the weather is outside or figuring out how to balance one block on another can show improvement in these areas, in a fun and natural way. Along with checklists, teachers also keep a portfolio to oversee the work of each child, and have parent teacher conferences twice a month to show parents the growth of their child. For teachers, it’s most important that students are receiving the skills of “the four C’s” which are: communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

Interested parents can come and tour anytime if they call ahead, and tours are also offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. Enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year begins at the end of January on a first come, first serve basis.

Class size ranges from 16-20 students depending on age. In every class there are two teachers, and MCPK works to have an extra adult in each room at least two times a week to allow for more one on one instruction.

“We work to close the achievement gap before it begins,” said Director Stephanie Fitzgerald.

The Montclair Community Pre-K is NAEYC accredited, which means that they have the highest quality program offered to students in every aspect from their teachers to the educational experience. MCPK also fully reflects Montclair in terms of diversity in race, religion, gender and financial differences, which is similar to the public schools of Montclair. The Pre-K also never turns away any families for financial reasons, and even offers support to Montclair residents.

“I love the Pre-K. I love that they have so many resources that allow the kids to choose what they enjoy doing, and grow in their own way. Yesterday, my son’s teachers took his class out with paintbrushes, and since it had just rained, the kids were able to paint with the mud,” said mother of two, Anjali Shah.

The Montclair Community Pre-K is a place where kids are loved and supported and have a ton of fun learning, with a lot of support to their families. To find out more about enrollment you can go to their website or give them a call at 973-509-4500.

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