What Parents Say About Our School
"When I started looking around for a preschool for my first child, I felt like I already had a good idea of what I wanted. I had worked in various preschools while getting my Child Development degree in college and knew some of the educational philosophies that can influence a school. I knew I wanted a play-based preschool. There is vast research about the benefits and importance of creative, child-directed play in the early years of life. When I observed at Old Firehouse School for the first time, I knew I had found what I was looking for.
I may or may not have seen the variety of cardboard boxes used for play that first day, but I have loved seeing them appear and reappear throughout the years. The possibilities of play with a cardboard box are truly endless. A cave, a fire truck, a puppet theater, a counter for a bake sale... When a child is given the opportunity, encouragement and time to transform materials into whatever he or she is passionate about, the experience is magical to watch. This is what happens at Old Firehouse School.
Old Firehouse School's commitment to child-directed, play-based learning, has allowed my two children to develop into engaged, motivated and creative learners. My older son transitioned beautifully from this play-based model into a rigorous academic setting in a public kindergarten classroom and I am eager to watch the same transition for my younger son as we say goodbye to OFS and begin the next part of our journey."
parent of a 2017 & 2013 graduate
"Our priorities for pre-school were: find a place that nurtures the child in age appropriate ways, feels like home, encourages relationships, and allows play to be the path of learning. OFS was this for both our sons. Our sons were fortunate enough to have the same primary teacher though they are 3 years apart - which meant that we had a strong bond with their primary teacher and trusted her direction, advice and guidance in many areas of parenting and child-rearing. Beyond the classroom, OFS allowed us to build a strong community of relationships - some of whom are our dear friends 5 years later. We are grateful to OFS for the role it played in the lives of our children and family."
mother of two OFS boys/alumni
"Our daughter started at Old Firehouse School in September when they opened their doors and we have been thrilled with the care we receive. The environment is nurturing and stimulating and all the teachers have degrees in early childhood education and it shows.
The school's philosophy is Reggio Emilia inspired which is a child lead, project based curriculum. Through the projects children learn many things including literacy, communication skills, team building and creative expression. Because the projects are child driven they are excited about what they are learning and constantly making new discoveries.
The class sizes are very small and the director and teachers are always available with feedback and to answer questions. The school also hosts invaluable complimentary parent education seminars to help parents with the challenges of preschool age children. Our daughter has blossomed since she's been there and we feel lucky we found such a great school."
Mother of a three year old in Mill Valley
"At the core of the school is clearly a sophisticated and well established program – teaching the children self confidence as well as respect for others through projects (from water and plants, to dogs and babies), games, and day-to-day life experiences. Sophisticated in the many small details – the daily reports, the organization of staff support and even a continuity plan for staff to stay with the same kids all 5 years at the school. But fundamentally, the core of the school is the nurturing staff, who teach the kids how to deal with their emotions, to work together, to have fun together and, most of all, to be happy kids. The quality of the staff self selects individuals through their interest in the well respected program (how can you match the enthusiasm of a teacher who stays late after school twice a week to teach tap and ballet to the kids?) and continues with formal ongoing education and conferences throughout the year to continue to learn to be effective care providers and teachers.
It is wonderful to have a place, where your child spends so much of their time, which fosters such positive development. And to have a school where we feel involved – watching the toddlers explain about babies, helping on activities, and sharing with the teachers and the children all the highlights of their day. And to have the security that our daughter is in an environment where safety – in all aspects – is a major priority and emphasis at the school.
The Old Firehouse School is a community – our home is filled with art and projects from school, our daughters classmates on “playdates” and the many new friends which we have made as well."
-William Greif MD. and Lisa Greif,
Parents of a one year old and a four year old in Lafayette
"I dropped Ben off at school the other day just as everyone was lining up to go outside. Judy got them all ready and said, "Let's go," and they all turned to each other and exclaimed, "GROUP HUG!" Then they all piled in and hugged so long and so hard until they all fell down.
As I reflected on this heartwarming scene, I realized that it encapsulated all the wonderful gifts Judy had given them this year. It spoke of cooperation, connection, compassion, inclusion, teamwork and generosity. And most of all it represented the dignity with which Judy has treated our children and with which they have learned to treat each other and themselves. Judy, during this year you have nurtured our children's spirits and ignited their intellect. Under your care, we have watched them become artists, geographers, fundraisers for charity, map readers, cooks, tap dancers, French speakers, music theorists, soccer experts, and kindergarten teachers. Parents, you may think that when our kids are sitting around the table in the Castle Room they are talking about hot wheels and bionicles, but if you listen really closely, they are actually coming up with a list of solutions for the world peace!
This is a way of saying that while the sad news is we have to leave OFS, the good news is that because of what OFS has given them, our children march forward to elementary school confident, prepared, with a sense of internal fairness and justice, and ready to embrace everything the world has to teach them.
So thank you Judy, for being such an extraordinary teacher and enriching our children's lives this year. Thank you to all the extraordinary teachers in this school who have cooperated in this venture and touched our children's lives. And thank you, Dorothy, for creating Old Firehouse School. Your vision for early childhood development has been an unmitigated success."
Love, Mary, Ben's mom
Mother of a six year old in Lafayette
"We wanted to send you a quick not to say how much we appreciate what you and the Old Firehouse School have meant to Jeffrey. He has really enjoyed the experience and we are very pleased that his first exposure to a school environment was so positive. In addition, he made many friends that he will carry forward for many years.
We looked at many schools prior to OFS and your school turned out to be better than even our most optimistic expectations. Your dedication and enthusiasm for the education of young children is obvious and carries through to all of your teachers and staff.
We wish you all the best in your future endeavors and we intend to stay in touch and let you know how Jeffrey progresses. OFS has given him a wonderful foundation for the future.
Thanks for everything.
-Frank and Cathy Witney
Parents of a six year old in Lafayette
"We can’t say enough about the nurturing environment at Old Firehouse School. Our son attended from 2000 – 2004. Old Firehouse School’s philosophy of instilling a “love of learning”, while developing strong social skills has benefited our son tremendously. Our son is secure and confident, excels in school and sports, and develops strong friendships. Looking back, we know that he received the absolute best pre-school education at Old Firehouse School!"
-Theresa and Larry Schmidt
Parents of a six year old in Lafayette