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New Horizons Preschool Celebrates An Amazing Year of Flexibility and Fun

Fri June 4, 2021

Preschool Collage

Last week, Batavia Park District's New Horizons Preschool teachers, students and their parents enjoyed picnics to celebrate an amazing year of connection, collaboration, and creativity. This was no ordinary year, yet the children flourished despite all the pandemic pivots required. 

“The most rewarding part of this school year has been having the ability to connect with each child and family, while teaching in person and virtually during this pandemic,” said Kaylee Gallagher, who has been a New Horizons teacher for 25 years.

New Horizons teachers spent countless hours brainstorming ways to operate safely and to provide fun, creative ideas for the children. "We worked as a team (teachers and Batavia Park District Recreation Supervisor Lori McDonald), working and reworking classrooms and schedules until we came up with a worked flawlessly," Gallagher said. 

“It has been an absolute gift to be able to teach this year,” said Laurie Musielak, who has taught at New Horizons for 14 years. "I feel like our creativity has been tested and that we have really shown what we are capable of," she added.

Musielak had to look at things from a new perspective, asking herself questions like, “How do you teach children phonics while wearing a mask? How can I tweak cooking projects to keep ingredients separate for each child?”

Deb Carlson has taught at New Horizons for two decades. She said though she was scared initially, "I was so happy with our safety protocols and felt confident as the year progressed that we were doing everything we could to keep everyone safe." Her confidence as a teacher grew even more, too. "I was able to adapt my lessons and art projects over and over again due to the pandemic. Perhaps her biggest challenge was “trying to keep my sweet preschoolers’ attention during our Zoom time...I’m so thankful for my supportive parents that made it all possible,” she said. 

“Parents were patient and supportive, and the students were rock stars," chimed another teacher, Elizabeth Czekajlo, with New Horizons for 3 years. "I love how everyone who is involved at New Horizons is willing to help each other like family. Coming to work every day is a joy, and that is because of our staff and families," she said.

"The children have been absolutely amazing! Their resilience for adapting to school in the middle of a pandemic was unbelievable...the children had no problem wearing a mask and social distancing, all while listening, learning and making new friends," said Gallagher. 

“We loved New Horizons! The teachers are so dedicated to every kid that walks into the building,” said Ann Marie Jezioro. “After having three girls go through the program, I’m always touched by the special photo scrapbook that is individually made for each child. I cannot recommend (New Horizons) enough to parents.”

Another parent Melissa Shanks shared, "We love how New Horizons brings the real world into the classroom for fun and creative learning experiences. I always looked forward to hearing about them...whether it was mailing letters at the class post office or taking orders and making pizzas at the class restaurant.”

Jill Sedivy, a mother of two children at New Horizons, said “My kids absolutely love their teachers! They love showing me all the cool art projects they do. I do enjoy that the kids really interact with each other and play. It really is a wonderful school for my little preschoolers!”

“I sincerely love our families...They’ve continually showed us that they understand and appreciate what we are doing,” Musielak said. “I love the collaborative way our teaching team works together. It’s a balance of sharing ideas and working together but at the same time valuing and respecting our individuality, she said. Carlson said her fellow teachers “are my second family. We really try to support each other throughout the year.”

“I have the best job! Thank you for letting me a part of your children’s lives,” said Czekajlo.

Thanks to all New Horizons Preschool teachers and families for a year of incredible memories!