My First School will be enjoying a distinguished milestone this year as they prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their school. Located inside the United Methodist Church on Violet Ave. in Floral Park and originally called the Floral Park Methodist Cooperative Nursery School, it was begun in 1963 by church members Caryll Winkler and Fanne Smith. There was a desire for nursery school services in the community with an emphasis on parental involvement throughout the program.
Under the instruction of Rita Rosenstein, who served the school for 36 years, the official board consented to the use of the space for one class of three and four-year-olds, three days a week. The initial group of families were church members and a church member was the president of the four-person steering committee. Tuition was charged to cover the salaries of the teachers and supplies, supplemented by the Christian Education budget for the first year.
Successfully begun, the program was opened to the community the following year and two separate classes were formed which met in the mornings for either two or three days. In subsequent years, the program expanded to include sessions for children aged two to six.
To reflect this, a name change was made in 2002 to “My First School, A Cooperative Experience” at the United Methodist Church. The school is entirely self sufficient and separate from the church. However, the parents of the school donate items to church events, contributes to the church fair and make an annual monetary donation to the church.
Today the cooperative nature is still very much a part of the My First School philosophy. Children learn through play, and do best with parental involvement at an early age. Parents are a vital part of our school day. The school has grown to offer 12 classes now. These classes start with a 15-month-old Mommy & Me class, a new two-year-old separation class, and a wonderful 3s program.
My First School also has a pre-k program with enrichment classes for both pre-k and kindergarten. The enrollment of the school has grown to 152 students enrolled in 2014. All teachers at My First School are master certified and have training in current math, reading and writing programs utilized by the Floral Park-Bellerose School District. All classes have a paid assistant as well.
My First School is also involved in community outreach through the Hance Family Foundation and has recently partnered with Adelphi University’s Institute for Parenting, offering parents different programs to help them raise their children. New events for the children have been developed throughout the years which includes Multicultural Day, bringing science to the classrooms through the Green Meadows Farm, the Tulip Avenue Halloween Parade, and the ever-popular Truck Day in May.