With seven board members, a dedicated interim teacher, 10 active volunteers, and many other donors and behind-the-scene community supporters, it’s no surprise that Mancos Valley Dragonfly Preschool (MVDP) will soon be a reality. The school, Mancos Valley Resource’s latest project as of fall 2018, is under construction on land provided by Deer Hill Expedition owners Beverly and Doug Capelin. And, organizers are holding their first major fundraiser at Outlier Cellars on Thursday, May 23.

“This project is truly the embodiment of the phrase, “it takes a village,” says Nicole Carey, MVDP’s board vice president. They’ve so far raised $6,500 through a GoFundMe launch and friends and family. And their next goal? To raise 30% of an ask they made to the Buell Foundation in January.

“In order to open our doors this September 2019, we need to raise at least $45,000,” says Board President Emily Palmer. If they are awarded the Grant they applied for, the funds will go towards start-up costs such as school supplies, furniture, play materials, outdoor playground materials, and the kitchen set up.

Future class members on a wagon ride with interim teacher Andrea McAlpin. There will be lots and lots of outdoor time built into the curriculum of the preschool.

So Why Another Preschool in Mancos?

According to organizers, the new Dragonfly Preschool will fulfill an important need in the community. Lily Russo, a board member, says the only other preschool in town is usually at capacity. Mancos’s existing preschool is “wonderful,” she adds, but with so many young adults starting families in Mancos, additional opportunities are needed.

As well, Lily adds, the preschool will offer children a holistic education, focused on creating empathetic, ethical, resourceful, and creative human beings that appreciate the wonders of the natural world. “Our vision is to provide an education based on experiential learning and instilling a love of nature through a lot of outdoor time.”

From the beginning, Nicole Carey adds, the board’s president Emily Palmer, a native of Mancos, led the way in promoting a Waldorf-inspired educational model, which strives to develop children’s intellectual, practical, and artistic skills in an integrated and holistic way, schooling the Head, Hands, and Heart.

“In Early Childhood, Waldorf seeks to cultivate children’s imagination and creativity, founding a life-long love of learning,” Emily explains. Classes will be smaller, with no more than 12 children, and a rural setting will encourage “wondrous nature exploration.”

“This will be a place where children’s natural curiosity and creativity are fostered through song, stories, playtime, nature, and art,” Emily says.

The preschool day-to-day rhythm will be also unique to this area, adds Emily. Waldorf Early Childhood curriculum incorporates a “breathing in and breathing out” within the day. For example, she explains, children first come into the classroom for the day and engage in free play with each other (breathing out). After a time, the teacher will transition the class into circle time, where the children come together and listen to a story or follow along with an interactive story with hand gestures (coming together in a structured way is breathing in). Then outside the children go (out breath)!! This allows children to learn to come together and have to listen and focus, and then gives them the freedom to be creative and inspired in their own initiative. A rhythm like this is healthy and constructive to learning.

Committed to Community

According to Lily, an important component of MVDP’s is its commitment to racial and economic equity. She explains, :We are offering scholarship options to provide for families of all backgrounds to attend the school.”

“MVDP is bringing an affordable alternative preschool education to the Mancos Valley,” adds Nicole. “The most important and effective support the community can give to further this dream is to spread the word about our new school across the income spectrum of both new and established families who live in and around Mancos.”

How Can You Help?

“The success of MVDP so far is due to the incredible vision and dedication of the board of directors, who are the core founders,” explains Nicole. “This group of parents and grandparents have brought a valuable combination of resources, skills, and time (lots and lots of time).”

But to fulfill the start-up needs, keep tuition low, and be able to offer scholarships, the preschool needs additional community support. Please consider donating to the school through their GoFundMe site, or send a check to MVDP at PO Box 1049 Mancos. If you want your donation to be tax-deductible, please send a check to MVR at PO Box 204, with the memo of MVDP on your check. The school appreciates any support you can give.

The community is also invited to attend the schools first fundraiser at Fenceline Cidery on May 23rd from 5-8 p.m. Bid on silent auction items, play games, and enjoy live music. Outlier Cellars will be donating a percentage of proceeds from the night to the Preschool.

“We have a long way to go, and the preschool still seeks donations to help launch this dream!” says Nicole. “We’re looking forward to our first ever event and FUNdraiser party, and asking for our community’s support on May 23rd at the Cidery!”

For more information, please visit the school’s new website: www.dragonflypreschool.org.