About Portland Nursery School

Portland Nursery School is a non-profit organization

Our Program

Founded in 1972, Portland Nursery School is a non-profit, state-licensed, parent-led cooperative preschool serving greater Portland and located in Woodfords Congregational Church in Portland’s Deering Center neighborhood. We offer a multi-age program for children aged 3-5, and we meet Tuesday through Thursday, 9am – 12pm. School is in session September through May and we follow the Portland school calendar for holidays and vacations. Because of our small class size (limited to 15 students) and our low staff/parent-to-child ratio (5:1), children enjoy personal attention and an intimate environment that fosters social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development.

Our Teacher

One of our greatest assets is our dedicated and talented teacher, Elizabeth Richards. Elizabeth joined PNS in 2011, bringing nearly 20 years of experience as an early childhood educator. She stays up to date through ongoing continuing education and shares her knowledge as a trainer of other early childhood educators throughout southern Maine.
Elizabeth’s curriculum model is “emergent,” meaning that she continually adapts classroom programming to meet the needs, skills, and interests of the students. She brings great intentionality and creativity to her curriculum design, ensuring that students master critical learning objectives but also are engaged in and enthusiastic about learning. Elizabeth’s gift for teaching young children is evident in everything she does, from her patient, attentive interactions with students to her thoughtfully-planned, child-centered lessons. Our students adore “Miss Elizabeth” – and so do their parents!

Our Day

Our engaging, play-based curriculum encourages children to develop their interests and gain new skills through exploration and discovery. Through both self-directed play and guided group and individual activities, children master key learning objectives during their time at PNS, so that they are ready to thrive in kindergarten. Our spacious classroom includes a variety of learning stations such as areas for gross motor development, dramatic play, art, science and math exploration, and quiet reading.
Each day includes circle time, choice time, snack, and group activities focused on our curriculum theme. Field trips allow us to explore beyond the classroom; favorite examples include apple-picking, visiting a fire station, and discovering nature through guided walks. We also welcome parents to share their special talents with the class. Through the years, we have had parents share lessons on yoga, gardening, music, health and wellness, foreign language, cooking, and more. Students are always excited to see their family member share their special talent with the class!

The Cooperative Experience

What makes Portland Nursery School stand out is our co-op structure, which allows parents to be actively involved in their child’s early educational experience. In this model, our teacher plans and delivers all educational programming, but parents provide administrative support for the school and perform many of the tasks involved in its day-to-day operations. Parents commit to help in the classroom on a regular rotation, hold a committee or board position, attend monthly parent meetings, participate in fundraising endeavors, drive on two field trips, and provide support during special events. There are many benefits of the co-op model. In addition to enjoying a unique opportunity to be intimately involved in their child’s education, parents are able to learn about child development and behavior through their time in the classroom and to share their own interests and expertise within the curriculum. Children benefit from being part of an invested, caring community of dedicated parents, peers and teacher.

Parents are required to:

Work in the classroom on a regular rotation
Hold a committee or board position
Attend monthly meetings
Participate in fundraising events
Drive on two field trips
Provide support during special events

What’s your hidden talent?

We welcome parents to share their special talents with our class. Through the years we have had parents share science experiments, wellness, music, yoga, fitness, gardening, cooking, sign language, Spanish and other lessons within our school day. Students are always excited to see their family member share their special talent with the class!