About Us

Hills & Falls strives to provide a quality play-based education in a safe, diverse and nurturing environment with the support of a strong and cohesive parent/guardian and teacher community.

 

Mission / Goals

• Support the physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs of children while readying them for kindergarten or their next experience.


• Provide the foundations of academic learning and skill development by engaging children in a variety of fun, hands-on opportunities that foster creative thinking and problem solving.


• Ensure educators have the knowledge, tools, materials and support necessary to meet the needs of our children and have the ability to engage in ongoing learning and self-reflection.


• Partner with parents/guardians in the care and education of their children.


• Embrace diversity and foster an environment in which differences are respected and appreciated.


• Treat all members of our community with care and compassion and encourage open, reflective and supportive communication.

Guiding Principles

In working with children in the classroom, our director, educators and parent/guardian helpers are guided by the following principles:

• Foster a love of learning.

• Understand that each child is unique.

• Observe and gain insight into each child’s individual strengths and provide the tools needed for individual growth, including outside resources when necessary.

• Help children understand and appreciate the diversity of people and perspectives in our society by integrating exposure to differences of race, ethnicity, class, gender, family structure, and ability into our curriculum.

 

We are committed to remaining informed and up-to-date with the latest developments, techniques, and standards in early childhood education.

 

Programs

Bunny

3 Year old

9:00 am

Arrive at School

9:10 - 9:15 am

Morning Circle

9:15 - 10:30 am

Open Play and Activity Time

 

10:30 - 10:40 am

Clean Up

 

10:40 - 10:55 am

Group Time

 

10:55 - 11:15 am

Wash Up and Snack

 

11:15 - 12:00 pm

Playground Time

 

12:00 pm

Dismissal

Dino

4 Year old

9:00 am

Arrive at School

9:10 - 9:45 am

Playground Time

9:45 - 10:10 am

Wash Up and Snack

 

10:10 - 10:30 am

Group Time

 

10:30 - 11:30 am

Activity Time

 

11:30 - 11:40 am

Clean Up

 

11:40 - 12:00 pm

Story and Playground Time

 

12:00 pm

Dismissal

Rainbow

5 Year old

9:00 am

Arrive at School

9:10 - 9:30 am

Playground Time

9:30 - 10:30 am

Group Time and Activity Time

 

10:30 - 11:00 am

Wash Up and Snack

11:00 - 11:30 am

Group Time, Calendar

 

11:30 - 12:00 pm

Playground Time

 

12:00 pm

Dismissal

Extra Cares

Hills & Falls offers five different opportunities for extra care services in order to meet the needs of our community.

Early Bird Program

What?

Early Bird is an early morning program where children are in a mixed-age group. The program offers a free play period in the morning before school starts.

 

When?

Early Bird program runs Monday through Friday mornings from 8:00-9:00am. Advanced sign-up of 24 hours is required for 8:00am drop-off; advanced sign-up is NOT required for 8:30am drop-off.

Late Bird Program

What?

Late Bird is an early afternoon program where children are in a mixed-age group. The program offers a free play period on the playground (or inside in inclement weather) immediately after the regular school day ends.

 

When?

Late Bird runs Monday through Friday afternoons from 12:00-12:30pm. Advanced sign-up is not required.

Stay Day Program

What?

Stay Day is a fun-filled afternoon program where children are in a mixed-age group. Each weekday has a specific theme from cooking to STEM based projects to arts & crafts. Children bring a nut-free lunch.

 

When?

Advanced sign-up is required and drop-ins are welcome based on space availability. Program offers a 2:00pm or 3:00pm pick-up option.

Fun Friday

What?

Fun Friday is a fun-filled afternoon program where children are in a mixed-age group. Teachers plan a different theme for each Fun Friday. Possible themes include: tie-dye day, pajama party, luau.

 

When?

Fun Friday program runs several Friday afternoons during the school year. Children may be enrolled for some or all of the Fridays. Te program runs from 12:00-2:00pm and children bring a nut-free lunch. Advanced sign-up is required.

 

Teachers

Maria Gentile Vachon

Director

Maria was appointed as Director in 2016; however, her history began at Hills & Falls in 2000, when her twin daughters started as Bunnies. Maria was deeply involved in the community as a parent. After her children graduated from Hills & Falls, she obtained her teaching certificate and began working at Hills & Falls as a substitute teacher and then as an assistant teacher. She subsequently worked as a Lead Teacher in the Bunny, Dino and Rainbow classrooms. A certified fitness instructor, Maria spends her free time teaching fitness classes, cooking, gardening and skiing.

Mary Ann Wilson

Co-Lead Teacher

Bunny Class

Mary Ann spent 29 years teaching early childhood education prior to joining Hills & Falls in 2016. After 13 years in the Newton Public Schools, she pursued a role as lead preschool teacher in 2000. Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, Mary Ann is passionate about play based curriculum and loves watching children explore, identify, negotiate and take risks. When not teaching, Mary Ann is busy with her three children and enjoys cheering on the Red Sox and Patriots!

Ally Leipzig

Co-Lead Teacher

Bunny Class

Ally joined Hills & Falls in October 2017 as an assistant teacher in the Dino class and will transition to assistant teacher in our Bunny class for the 2020-2021 school year. Ally has deep roots at our school, having attended as a child. Her mother, Nancy, has served as a regular substitute teacher at Hills & Falls for many years. Ally graduated in 2014 from the University of Redland, where she played lacrosse. Her passion for the sport has persisted as she currently coaches the Newton South HighSchool JV lacrosse team. Ally’s favorite sports team is the Celtics and her favorite TV show is Top Chef.

Lee Thurston

Assistant Teacher

Bunny Class

Lee has been with Hills & Falls since 2000. She studied business at Mass Bay Community College. Prior to becoming a preschool teacher, Lee worked at Mitchell Elementary School in Needham, both in the library and as a parent/guardian volunteer. Lee values the sense of community at Hills & Falls and enjoys seeing the world through the eyes of the children.

Anne-Marie Hayden

Co-Lead Teacher

Dino Class

Anne-Marie has built a career teaching in a variety of school settings in both Great Britain and the U.S. When she became a mom, she took time off to raise her children. Eager to return to teaching, Anne-Marie was drawn to the caring and supportive community at Hills & Falls. In 2013, she joined as a teacher in the five-year-old class and transitioned to Lead Teacher of the four-year-old class in 2016. Anne-Marie’s favorite part of teaching is sharing in the curiosity & eagerness that children bring to new experiences.

Karly Loyer

Co-Lead Teacher

Dino Class

Karly Loyer joined Hills & Falls in 2019 in the Bunny room as a Co-Lead Teacher and will transition to assistant teacher in our Dino class for the 2020-2021 school year. Karly graduated from Naropa University in Colorado and worked there for several years as a lead pre-school teacher and an art teacher. She has recently moved to the Boston area with her fiance and has been searching for the perfect school to call home! In her free time Karly enjoys art, yoga and meditation.

Erin Comella

Assitant Teacher

Dino Class

Erin joined Hills & Falls as an assistant teacher in the four-year-old Dino class; however she is a familiar face at school, given three of her four children attended Hills & Falls. She has been an active member of the school’s community for many years. Erin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development from Boston College and prior to starting her family, worked as a social worker. In her free time, Erin enjoys running, reading and yoga.

Melissa Decina

Co-Lead Teacher

Rainbow Class

We are thrilled to have Melissa serving as Lead Teacher in the Rainbow class, after a brief hiatus. Melissa previously served as Lead Teacher in the Dino class after joining Hills & Falls in 2007. She has worked with young children since 1994, as both a preschool teacher, at Hanscom Air Force Base, and as a director of a childcare center. Melissa holds an Early Childhood degree from Middlesex Community College. Melissa is excited to return, stating, “It’s the wonderful staff and community that attracts me to Hills & Falls. All of us truly love what we do and are very supportive of each other.”

Susan Wolf

Co-Lead Teacher

Rainbow Class

Susan began her preschool teaching career many years ago right here at Hills and Falls, after receiving her BA in English from The College of the Holy Cross and her MS in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College. After taking time off to raise her three children (all of whom attended Hills and Falls!), she returned to teaching preschool and Susan is thrilled to be back home at Hills and Falls, a place that shaped her as a teacher and as a parent and that confirmed her belief that children learn best through play in a warm, safe, supportive environment. In her spare time, Susan loves to spend time with her family and friends at her cottage in Maine, to read, and to take long walks in the woods with her dog, George.

© 2020 by Hills & Falls Nursery School. 

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