For those of you who are reading and who might have attended the Nursery School, or had children attend, you will know that animals have always been a part of the Nursery School family and experience.
Every Winter Break, for the past 10, if not 20 years, the Nursery School sends out a request to take care of the Nursery School’s beloved Guinea Pigs. For the past four years, it has been Mocha and Daisy. While it helps us make sure Mocha and Daisy are cared for when we are away, it is also a treat for the families to host them, especially when families have limited ability to have pets of their own. At her Installation last month, Jalene Spain Thomas received two stuffed animals to represent Mocha and Daisy. Any family wanting a practice run in caring for our beloved live pets over the holiday is welcome to borrow Mrs. Spain Thomas' furry friends.
For those of you who are reading and who might have attended the Nursery School, or had children attend, you will know that animals have always been a part of the Nursery School family and experience. Longtime science teacher Martha Estroff, along with Nursery School teacher Mendy Thaler, hatched ducks each spring, which, when old enough, lived in a duck pen located on the then-named Nursery School Playground. That tradition has been modified and carried on with our current science teacher, Sam Mason, and Nursery School teacher Joyce Distinto. Under Mr. Mason and Ms. Distinto's supervision, we now hatch chickens and house mature hens on the renovated and currently named Primary Grades Playground. The hens, to soon become permanent residents, are cared for by the children who also collect the freshly hatched eggs, sometimes cooking them with Mr. Mason for a tasty and healthy snack.
Some readers might remember Petunia, our pet tarantula for a number of years. It was always a delight for the children to feed Petunia live grasshoppers and crickets. Sadly, Petunia passed away three years ago, we believe Petunia was about seven years old at the time. While we do not have a tarantula anymore, we do have Suki, a grey Holland Lop rabbit residing in Ms. Distinto’s N2 classroom. Suki is too cute for words and is loved and attended by all the Nursery School children. Butter and Cup, two rescued slider turtles, reside in a large tank near the Nursery School library. The children look after them daily and are amused to see them stack on each other as they sun themselves under the sunlamps installed on the tank’s edge. And finally, we have our African Cichlid Yellow Labs (Labidochromis tanganicae), Demasoni cichlids (pseudotropheus demasoni), and Bristlenose catfish (Ancistrus) located in the built-in fish tank in our Nursery School library. Oh, and we would be remiss if we did not mention Bailey, our Head of School, Jalene Spain Thomas’s dog. Bailey visits the school often, and is adored by the entire St. Patrick’s family!
Studies have shown that being amongst and caring for pets reduces stress and strengthens a child's communication skills. Caring for pets helps improve a child’s own self-help skills; as they learn they have the ability to care for others, they learn to take proper care of themselves as well. In short, for many years, animals have been one of a number of intentional elements that make the Nursery School program and environment a welcoming, safe, and vibrant place.
Oh, back to Mocha and Daisy, they are nonsmokers who go to bed early and often. They very much look forward to spending Winter Break with a Nursery School family. If you would like to host these loving and extremely intelligent guinea pigs over the break, give us a call!