Purposeful and Magical

Olivia, Ella, Jackson, Parker, and Emily get an unexpected thrill with a color changing fiber optic lamp in Ms. Millette’s classroom

In order to make truly great people, you have to start with amazing little people and help them grow. That’s what the SAU88 preschool program has been doing for decades, serving kids across the Lebanon School District. 

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In two cozy and inviting classrooms at Mt.Lebanon School, a gregarious crowd of 2-to-4-year-olds are presented with a thoughtfully structured day of learning and playing. Assistant principal Katie Roach explains that, “The program provides a safe, nurturing environment that is student-focused and encouraging to all students, offering intentional learning through a play-based model.

Skeptical but nevertheless intrigued, Alden tries his hand at finger knitting


Speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are on site throughout the week to support all students in moving forward to successfully meet developmental goals.”

As any parent knows, a four-year-old is a force of nature: mercurial, unpredictable, full of energy, yet quick to tire, and with the attention span of, well, a four-year-old. Now, imagine a dozen of them interacting, bouncing off each other and the walls. It takes a special set of skills and personalities to impose structure on that scene — which is precisely what the preschool teachers and aides have. Their no-nonsense compassion and care is remarkable, and they bring a variety of experiences and expertise to the program, along with apparently endless patience. 

Mrs. Van Stelten’s class uses an interactive whiteboard to work on basic math skills


Small touches impress: the teacher’s remarkable knack for reading each student and giving individualized attention when and as needed, ensuring they all get the most out of their day; changing the daily routine on the fly to seize an unexpected learning opportunity; or seamlessly change gears when the energy in the room requires it. 

The program serves kids with special needs, either by providing them a spot with therapy as an integral part, or by offering special education services on site to kids who aren’t otherwise taking part in the preschool program. 

And for all who attend, the goal is to get the kids comfortable with the transition to full-day kindergarten and ready for a successful future as learners and students. Says Katie Roach, “Each classroom clearly understands the power and importance of play, which ignites each child’s love for learning, and establishes their educational roots to ensure future success when they enter kindergarten.” 

Jacob masters the fine art of precision cutting with the help of Mrs. June

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