FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What are the benefits of a cooperative preschool experience?
There are numerous benefits to joining a cooperative preschool. Research shows that the more a parent is involved in his/her child’s education, the more successful that child will be. As a parent participating in the classroom, you get to witness first hand how your child navigates his world and how he interacts with others - socially, emotionally, physically, creatively and intellectually. You become more of an integral part of your child’s education. Your child learns from you, the role model, the importance of learning and being involved in a community. As a member of the cooperative, you have an impact on what happens in the cooperative school. A child’s confidence grows as he or she witnesses first hand how teachers and parents work together in his or her first school experience.
Q: How does a school being licensed and registered help keep my child safe?
Safety is a top priority at St. Mark's. Our licensing requirements ensure that all our teachers and staff undergo fingerprinting, background checks and are trained in first aid, CPR and Epi-pen administration. We also uphold strict teacher-to-student ratios at all times throughout the school day. Our security system is in place so only authorized parents, caregivers and staff members can enter the school, and our current location is equipped with interior and exterior cameras. Our safety protocols include fire drills, lock down and shelter in place drills. Our facility is thoroughly inspected by the Office of Children and Family Services, and we undergo random on-site inspections throughout the year to ensure we are in compliance. Maintaining our license takes great effort, but with it comes great benefits for our community, our students and their parents.
Q: What is the ratio of teacher to child?
Our ratios are regulated by the Office of Children and Family Services and vary by the ages of the children. The 2s separation classes uphold a 1:5 teacher-to-student ratio. The 3s classes uphold a 1:7 teacher-to-student ratio, and the ratio in the 4s classrooms is 1:8.
Q: What is a “special” day?
One of the greatest benefits of joining a cooperative is the “Special Day”. It is also one of the most unique components of the cooperative experience. On a Special Day, an adult who is significant to the child is invited to join the class for the day. The child brings a healthy snack from our Approved Snack list to share, and the child enjoys some special treatment in the classroom – ringing the bell and leading the line. The most important aspect of the Special Day is the child and adult are allowed this time together - learning about learning. Our students anticipate their Special Days, and both child and adult remember these times with great fondness for many, many years.
Q: What are the participation requirements? Can a non-parent participate?
Parents select a number of participation days, with that number determined by the age of the child. The three-year-old classes allow for 7 days of participation throughout the year, 5 days for our four-year-old classes and 3 days for our KinderPrep class. There are opportunities to participate on additional days at the discretion of the classroom teacher and administration. Someone other than a parent may participate in place of a parent, provided they are English speaking, have a special relationship with the child, and are physically capable of handling the demands of young children. This caregiver must attend the Back to School Meeting in September to learn about the classroom procedures.
Q: Are the participation requirements manageable for working parents?
We think so! Parents sign up for special days using SignUpGenius.com, and we strive to accommodate many different schedules. We currently have working parents who are teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, business owners, students, reporters, fitness instructors, “stay at home working” parents, etc. ... we make it work!
Q: Are there any enrichment/extended day programs?
Yes! The three year olds are offered some options to extend their days 1, 2 or 3 days a week. We offer Young Explorers, Reading Rainbow and Spanish enrichment classes. The four year olds are offered options to extend their days 1, 2, 3 or 4 days a week. We offer Young Explorers, Spanish, Kindergarten Readiness, Literacy workshop and a Music Enrichment class. These are fun and exciting opportunities for our students.
Q: What is the educational philosophy of the school?
We are a play-based, developmentally appropriate school. Play-based means we focus on PLAY as the heart and soul of the academic experience. Developmentally appropriate means our students are exposed to activities and environments that meet their developmental age and brain function. Numerous studies have proven that play provides learning opportunities to develop cognitive, physical, social and emotional experiences that lead to a child’s academic success and self esteem.
Q: How is tuition determined?
We are licensed and registered with the Office of Children and Family Services and New York State Department of Education, which means we have strict teacher to student ratios. We are a non-profit institution so our tuition costs are set to cover our educational expenses.
Q: Does Saint Mark’s Nursery School have a religious affiliation?
We welcome families and children of all religious backgrounds. Our school was started in 1968 and our name is the original one taken by our cooperative when it began in the basement of our original building at 200 Hempstead Avenue almost 50 years ago. We moved to our current location at 100 Hempstead Avenue in June 2015.
Q: How does the school handle food allergies?
Each year we distribute an Approved Snack List to each member of our Cooperative. On special days, only items from this list can be brought into school. The items on the list are checked on an ongoing basis to determine if they are safe for students who have a peanut allergy. Our VP of Health and Safety is alerted to any recalls and periodically updates the list to ensure the safety and well being of all our students. If your child has a specific allergy other than peanuts, the classroom teacher and current VP of Health and Safety will work with you to create a specific list for your classroom.
Q: What is committee work? Do I have to make curtains and scrub toilets?
Since we are a cooperative preschool, we ask each 3s and 4s family to make an annual commitment of volunteering 10-12 hours of their time to a specific committee (our 2s families are not required to do committee work). Our committees include Fundraising, planning a Ladies Night Out event, Hospitality, substitute teaching, Babysitting during daytime Board Meetings, Classroom toy cleaning, Enrichment and Purchasing. The VP of Committees works diligently during the summer to find a committee that fits family lifestyles and interests. We do not require families to sew curtains or clean toilets. Ever.