Heritage School is a preschool and kindergarten ministry of Church of the Saviour, a non-denominational church in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
Heritage School is the product of a young mother’s search in 1977 for a preschool for her son. She was surprised to find that preschools housed in church buildings were not necessarily teaching from a Christian worldview. Through prayer and encouragement from Linda Brechsel, the church’s Director of Christian Education, Cay Evans and Barbara McGarvey, both educators, wrote a proposal to the church’s Elder Board to open a Christian preschool at Church of the Saviour. It was to serve the community at large.
With the church’s blessing, Heritage School opened in 1980 with twenty six students and six staff members. At that time, thirty six percent of the students did not attend Church of the Saviour. Today, there are 197 students and thirty staff members. Seventy six percent of the students do not attend the church. Through the years, there has been no compromise in the school’s philosophy, mission, the personal attention, nor the vision to offer excellence to families in a loving and developmentally appropriate setting.
Currently, the school has an excellent reputation in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, and has been accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International since 2003. Heritage School maintains a professional relationship with area preschools, school district intermediate units, private elementary schools and other ACSI member schools. It partners with Eastern University, Cabrini College, Bryn Mawr College and Villanova University in meeting field experience requirements for their education and psychology students.
Watershed Events & Significant Milestones:
In the summer of 1998, the School Board made the decision to commit to having a Kindergarten class no matter the enrollment numbers. This commitment gave parents the confidence needed to enroll their child for the next year. Since then, the Kindergarten has grown in numbers and in reputation. It has a strong academic program receiving positive feedback as to the children’s readiness for the first grade.
Through the years the school has evolved from a nursery school to a preschool and kindergarten evolving into a more academic, developmentally appropriate program. Significant to this change was the implementation in 2000 of the Let’s Begin with the Letter people language development curriculum at the 4s level. Land of the Letter People had been used in the Kindergarten for many years. This enriched and developmentally appropriate curriculum met the needs of 4s at different levels. Since then, the school has intentionally added interactive math, social studies and science.
In 2009-2010 Handwriting Without Tears was added. All of the above creates a very strong 4s program. The 4s program is called Kindergarten Readiness. Classes under the KR umbrella teach young 4s to young 5s.
Heritage School added the Di-Gi Block Math Method in January 2010 as a supplement to the Kindergarten’s Every Day Math Curriculum. Within three weeks we saw a definite change in the children’s number sense. This method is developmentally appropriate and very appealing to children. They love it! In January 2011 it was introduced to the Pre-K level. Again, the reception and the results were very satisfying. We are pleased to have a tool for early math that has strengthened our curriculum. It is especially valuable for those children that have strong mathematical tendencies.
A very significant watershed decision was the development of the Discovery Garden Project in August 2010. The Discovery Garden is an outdoor classroom. The physical area includes Discovery Woods, The Nesting Nook, Creation Station, The Music Grove, Chapel in the Woods, Critter Patch, Curiosity Corner and Whispering Pines. A science teacher was hired to create and implement the curriculum. The curriculum was to seamlessly blend with our existing curriculum bringing the outside in and vice versa. The project has exceeded our expectation. It is at the cutting edge of education and has taken the Heritage School program to a higher level. It is continuing to evolve.
In the spring of 2003 Heritage School applied for accreditation with ACSI. This pursuit was significant in the organization and development of a strong foundation that fosters excellence, on-going improvement, and self-evaluation while meeting and/or exceeding state and national standards. Professional expectations are part of this process. The School Board recognizes the importance of professional development and has budgeted for the faculty and aides to attend the annual two day ACSI EE Conference. The staff is expected to grow in their understanding of the young child and must attain 12 clock hours of training per year. For the past two years, teachers and now aides develop practical personal goals in conjunction with their annual review. This is causing the staff to realize their role in the strength and quality of the program that we offer to the glory of God.