GICNS was founded in 1948 by a group of nine families. Since 1953, the school has been operating at Trinity Methodist Church. GICNS believes in a hand-on learning environment. Children are encouraged to learn, discover, and grow at their own pace. Socialization is very important at these tender young ages. Guided by these beliefs, our students ultimately benefit from participating in our successful readiness program geared towards preparing them for entering Kindergarten.
What We Do
In addition to our comprehensive educationally-focused curriculum, we are proud to incorporate the following:
1. SOCIALIZATION: opportunities for making a variety of new friends; experiencing new social dynamics and interactions; working and playing together; for helping each other; for learning to wait patiently and taking turns; for respecting the feelings of others.
2. PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT: opportunities for gross motor activities both indoors and outdoors that allow children to climb, swing, balance, run and jump, for small motor activities such as using pegs, puzzles, Legos, scissors and writing.
3. INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT: opportunities to learn to use the mind for thinking, reasoning and problem solving such as measuring and pouring with rice or water; looking critically at their surroundings to see likenesses and differences; handling and experimenting with a variety of materials; opportunities for letter, shape, color, and number recognition.
4. CREATIVITY: opportunities to work and experiment with open-ended materials which meet the needs for self-expression, reconstructing reality and stimulating the imagination (play dough, paints, finger paints, cutting and gluing materials) and to express ideas, concepts, stories and role playing ( dress-up corner, house center, puppets).
5. EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: fostering emotional independence, understanding and managing their emotions, developing feelings of confidence and self-worth, and learning to cooperatively interact with peers and adults.
6. PROGRAM ENRICHMENT: providing enrichment opportunities such as yoga classes, music classes, cooking, dancing, and various others.
All of these will help prepare your child for a successful transition to kindergarten.
It is important to remember the “C” in GICNS. Starting with Orientation, we will need your Cooperation to make your child's preschool experience the best that it can be.
How It All Began
In April 1973, a parent dinner meeting was held in celebration of our twenty-fifth anniversary. Mrs. Mazenauer, one of the original founders of our school was present. The guest speaker was Marion Klingel, Grand Island’s Town Historian. Her speech follows:
The Grand Island Nursery School is a fine example of what can be accomplished in a community when even a handful of people see a need and then do something about it.
Need for preschool education was recognized by a few mothers back in 1948 when the town’s official population had not yet reached 3,000. Today it’s five times that amount and the project in which they became involved then has grown until now it is recognized as one of Grand Island’s most outstanding.
The title Grand Island Nursery School may not have entered the minds of those few mothers who at first considered meeting as a study group and to coffee klatch as their children enjoyed a few hours of cooperative play in the Mazenauer home on Oakfield Road.
Actually, though, their meetings centered more around having their little tots benefit from play periods with someone besides mother or older sisters or brothers. You see, homes on the island then were few and far apart in comparison with today’s subdivision, apartment projects and suburban rather than rural areas of development.
This was 1948, remember, just a year after the town’s first kindergarten opened in Sidway School - then Grand Island’s only school, and only 11 years old. Kaegebein School opened in 1953 And Huth Road in 1958. By 1950 Grand Island Nursery School was well on the way to hiring its first teacher, Miss Woepple. Its activities were moved first to the boardroom of the old town hall and then into the old fire hall. I say old because both have since been demolished and replaced by out present buildings. In 1953, Grand Island Nursery School moved into its present quarters, here in Trinity Church.
To be commended on the 25th anniversary are those pioneers who worked so hard to get the school functioning in an orderly manner. Bake sales were held to raise money, toys were solicited and renovated, and other equipment gathered and repaired to set up what has now grown to be one of the area’s finest nursery schools.
Mrs. Mary Parks, then head of the Nursery School Dept. at the University of Buffalo, gave professional advice. Mrs. David Kinton, teacher-director from 1952-1960, is another dedicated person to remember. It was during her time that the school became a practice center for student teachers—a giant step from those first sessions of playtime held in the Mazenauer home.
In 1960 the school was incorporated by the New York State Dept. of Education and Mrs. Daniel Barkow became teacher-director. Mrs. David Rosenberg followed her from 1961 to 1963. Now we come to 1963 when Mrs. Isabel Allen became teacher-director, and continued to lead the way for 22 years.
Truly, Grand Island Nursery School has come a long way during the past 25 years and we hope it will continue to grow as the island expands until some day you will need a building all of your own. But meanwhile, how lucky to have Trinity Church keep its doors open to our little people. After all, Trinity is one of the Island’s two oldest established congregations so what better place to have our youngsters housed as they start on the road to education.
Going back again to 1958 - the school installed a new board of directors and celebrated its 10th anniversary in May of that year - in Creighton’s Edgewater Hotel, a delightful place for family affairs. Now it is the Silver Dollar Saloon on East River Road.
Just one more thing, Mrs. Shofner, now deceased, was the Mrs. Mazenauer who opened her home for those first nursery school kids in 1948. Her two boys, Peter and Skip(Mr. Penny Saver) are probably two of the school’s oldest alumni members. She also has a grandson and granddaughter who have also attended classes at our nursery school.
Also at that 25th anniversary dinner, a plaque, which now hangs on the wall at the Nursery School, was dedicated to give thanks and recognition to our founders. That the names of these eight couples may not be forgotten by those who now reap the benefit of their hard work, we record them here again in grateful acknowledgment:
Mr. & Mrs. Paul Brobeil
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Mazenauer
Mr. & Mrs. Wilbert Janke
Mr. & Mrs. Chester Daggett
Mr. & Mrs. Michael Quinn
Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Cotter
Mr. & Mrs. John Wheeler
Mr. & Mrs. Frederick Strauss
In June 1985, a most dedicated woman, Mrs. Isabel Allen retired as our Director/Teacher, a position she held for 22 years. In the Fall of 1985, Mrs. Barbara Macaluso, the teacher of the 4 year old class also retired. Mrs. Bonnie Janowsky and Mrs. Anne Jarzab were on their own and had a tremendous effect on our children as well as our school.
In June 1988, Bonnie Janowsky became our Director/Teacher. Joining her was Marty Schuh, who was with the school for 10 years. Mrs. Vicki Wilkinson joined our school in 1987 and in 2005 became our new Director/Teacher after the retirement of Bonnie Janowsky. That same year we welcomed two new teachers, Mrs. Nancy Major and Ms. Julie Estenoz.
Today, the school is under the leadership of Director Vicki Wilkinson and teacher assistants Yolandi Oelofse and Sarah Gasbarro. Together, they continue the long history of excellence and caring for our children.
The School Board
Our school board is comprised of volunteer parents and our three teachers. This is a great way to be involved with both the business and educational aspects of our school. By volunteering on the Board, you fulfill your cooperative commitment for the year. Responsibilities include monthly meetings along with individual tasks that require completion between the meetings.
Below are the board positions. Click here to meet the team.