“What matters are not buildings. What matters are education and teaching and teachers. That is what allows a civilization to endure. Without education all else fails.”
“Schools are where we make children our partners in the long and open- ended task of making a more gracious world.”
Rabbi Dr. Sir Jonathan Sacks
OZ Full Circle Preschool is the way Ohavi Zedek cares for and nurtures the youngest in our community. We offer high-quality, holistic care and nurturing for infants through five-year-children in five classrooms. Our program centers on child-led learning and exploration, along with Jewish values of kindness, generosity, and community from the youngest ages. OZ’s Full Circle Preschool is Jewish in content, character, and calendar, while also whole-heartedly welcoming interfaith, non-affiliated, and non-Jewish students and families. Inclusion, warmth, and kindness are the foundation of all we do.
PEDAGOGY + PHILOSOPHY
At OZ Full Circle Preschool, we embrace a play and interest-based child-led curriculum, inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. We respect the child’s need to generate their own questions and aim to help children make sense of their experiences. Using the project-based approach, we encourage teachers, children, family, and other members of the community to collaborate in ongoing projects based on the children’s interests. Children’s work is deeply respected and is used by educators and families to better understand children’s development and thinking processes. Children are fully supported in their expressive and creative endeavors. Children are encouraged to reflect on their work and the works of others, and to lend words and meaning to their creative processes. We believe strongly in providing children with inviting spaces that encourage creativity and exploration. We believe that in order to provide children with opportunities for independent and collaborative learning, we must ask open-ended questions and provide children with the proper language and materials to further explore their innate curiosities. While the Reggio Emilia approach is specific to the region in Italy, we understand that our approach is uniquely based upon the values, needs, and resources of our Burlington community, and the Jewish teachings interwoven throughout our daily learning experiences.
Judaism holds education as an extremely high value. Through the preschool, Ohavi Zedek provides a place for our youngest to form their identities at a synagogue, feeling safe, supported, loved, and nourished in the context of Judaism during their formative years. Our Jewish values of chesed (loving kindness), tikkun olam (healing the world), and knesset (community) are woven into the curriculum, helping young children develop strong values and ethics from the very beginning. The children attend a weekly music class led by Cantor Steve where they learn songs in Hebrew and English that follow the themes of the Jewish holidays, acts of kindness (mitzvot) and gratitude to the earth. Each Friday morning, the children are invited to a morning Shabbat party which begins with Shabbat music and movement with Cantor Steve, then a snack provided by Full Circle including grape juice and challah.
At OZ Full Circle Preschool, we believe children are born scientists and explorers with innate curiosities about the natural world around them. As children make sense of their surroundings, it is essential to help them understand the natural world and how they fit into it. We believe that offering inviting outdoor learning environments is an important way to support children on their quests to explore beauty, natural elements, life cycles, and open space. We strive every day to connect children to the outdoors by creating environments rich with natural materials, plant and tree life, and sensory opportunities to enhance learning, engagement, and active play while offering opportunities for scientific exploration and discovery.
Children’s direct interactions with nature in modes like gardening, observing insects, smelling flowers, exploring flowing water, working with mud, watching the clouds, and building forts among trees and shrubbery all contribute to a connection with nature and place while encouraging nourishment, mindfulness, and respect for all living things. By providing children with these early experiences outside each day, OZ Full Circle Preschool helps instill an enthusiasm for nature that will positively impact the way children regard, respect, discover and explore the natural world while strengthening their abilities to take risks, develop more self-awareness, and foster a lifelong appreciation for the Earth.
MEET THE TEACHERS
Erika Geremia (she/her): Program Director
Erika was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. She moved to Vermont to attend Saint Michael’s College where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2012. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Education with a focus on Administration from Champlain College, and she has been an early educator for over 10 years. Erika believes strongly in allowing children to be the architects of their days as they construct their own knowledge of the world around them. Through observation and interactions, she strives to provide each child with the materials and language they need to expand upon their interests and needs on a daily basis. Erika places great emphasis on nature connections, outdoor play, and age-appropriate risk taking in order to help children build resilience and develop an appreciation for the natural world. Erika is the full-time program director and spends time in all five classrooms throughout the week supporting children and educators.
Caley Gervais (she/her): Lead Infant Teacher
Caley grew up in Enosburg Falls, Vermont. She has been working as an early educator in the preschool setting for over 7 years, alternating between teaching infant and young toddlers. She initially studied Gender Studies at Saint Michael’s College, where she also worked at the SMC Early Learning Center. From there, she discovered her passion for working with young children. After realizing this passion and happening upon a job offer from a local preschool, Caley decided to take a hiatus from school to pursue this opportunity. It quickly became clear that this was the right career path for her. While working full-time in the field, she earned an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the Community College of Vermont. Caley believes strongly in incorporating music into children’s daily learning experiences while encouraging independence and self-expression. She currently serves as the Lead Infant Teacher at OZ Full Circle Preschool.
Amber Harvey (she/her): Lead Young Toddler Teacher
Amber was born and raised in Plainfield, Vermont. She studied art and education at Johnson State College where she enhanced her love for art and realized her passion for working with children. She previously worked as an Autism Behavioral Interventionist with a variety of different children in the school setting ranging in age from 1-18. Amber’s background in art encourages children to not only be creative, but to use materials in a way that best suits them. She believes in the importance of allowing children time to explore and to make connections through hands-on approaches. She is very happy to serve OZ Full Circle Preschool as the Lead Young Toddler Teacher.
Racheal Ouellette (she/her): Lead Older Toddler Teacher
Racheal was born and raised on the Connecticut shoreline. She moved to Vermont in 2010 to attend the University of Vermont, where she obtained her BAS in Cultural Anthropology. In 2016, Racheal enrolled at the Community College of Vermont where she completed her teaching credentials in Early Childhood Education and obtained a Level IV Ladder Certification. Racheal has worked as a preschool teacher, pre-Kindergarten teacher, toddler teacher, and early childhood arts educator. Over the years, Racheal has come to define her role as one that supports and encourages children’s continuous re-descriptions of the world. She is dedicated to providing children opportunities that celebrate individuality and promote self-expression through process, play, and reflection. Racheal also serves as a certified end of life doula. She is passionate about helping children develop healthy relationships with death and supporting families in finding age-appropriate ways of discussing and processing death, grief, and loss with young children. Racheal serves as OZ Full Circle Preschool’s Lead Older Toddler Teacher.
Morgan Lachance (she/her): Lead Preschool Teacher
Morgan grew up in Cheshire, Connecticut. She moved to Vermont to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at The University of Vermont. She has previously worked as a private nanny, a camp counselor, and a co-facilitator of The Girlhood Project, which sparked her passion for working with children. Her background in gender studies has helped Morgan understand the importance of helping children feel valued and that they belong, in order for them to develop a secure sense of self. Morgan believes strongly in creating environments which allow children to be their authentic selves and explore their interests. She is especially excited to incorporate music, art, and nature play into children’s learning experiences. Morgan is thrilled to be a part of OZ Full Circle Preschool as the Lead Preschool Teacher.
Izzy Rose (she/her): Lead Pre-Kindergarten Teacher
Izzy is a born and raised Vermonter and a recent graduate of Keene State College, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Psychology in 2018. At Keene State, Izzy developed practicum and internship experience working with children from birth to grade three. She was also involved in one of the largest student organizations on campus serving their executive board as the hospitality coordinator. Izzy has a shared passion for the Reggio-Emilia teaching philosophy, as she embraces an emergent curriculum with the children in her care. She is committed to outdoor nature-based education and assisting Full Circle in developing a stronger outdoor education philosophy. She is overjoyed to serve as OZ Full Circle Preschool’s Lead Pre-Kindergarten teacher.
Martha Carpenter (she/her): Assistant Teacher
Martha grew up in the woods and fields of Trumansburg, New York just a quick hop from Ithaca. She graduated from Juniata College in the country hills of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania with a degree in English Literature and a deep interest in box turtles. Although she came to Vermont with the intention of completing a Master’s Degree in Literature, she left her program in order to pursue a truer love – connecting children with nature. Thus, she is working towards her Teaching Certificate; the first step in her journey of becoming a Lead Pre-Kindergarten Teacher next year here at OZ Full Circle Preschool. Martha’s experiences working as a Children’s Summer Reading Program Coordinator, a wilderness camp counselor, and a nanny have all taught her that life’s truest joy is the endless pursuit of curiosity and human connection!
Alison Mott (she/her): Assistant Teacher
Alison graduated from Bryn Mawr College with an undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology, particularly focused on African Studies. Since graduation, Alison has held jobs in the Education field in diverse age groups and ability levels from infants to high school aged children and lived in Philadelphia, Boston, and finally, in Vermont. She has been a nanny for infants, a teacher for children with Cerebral Palsy, and a para-educator in two different middle schools in Vermont. For the last ten years, she has been the owner/director/teacher at Green Mountain Music Together – music and movement classes for families with young children. She teaches classes at the Flynn, the King Street Community Center and The Burlington Children’s Space. Alison is a trained singer and dancer and will bring movement and music with her throughout the learning community. She believes in creating a classroom and school environment where children feel safe and loved. Alison focuses on exploring music and movement through play while creating nurturing spaces for artistic expression in all its forms.
OZ FULL CIRCLE PRESCHOOL MONTHLY TUITION RATES
Please note that each year, our tuition will increase by a small percentage in order to provide our early education professionals with adequate salary, health care, and retirement.
Infant Room and Young Toddler Room Monthly Tuition Rates (ages 0-2)
*Please note these rates remain the same for your child’s full year contract, even if a child turns 2 while in the Young Toddler Room
|Days/Week||School Day (9-4)||Extended Day (8-5)|
Older Toddler Room Monthly Tuition Rates (ages 2-3)
*Please note these rates remain the same for your child’s full year contract, even if a child turns 3 while in the Older Toddler Room
|Days/Week||School Day (9-4)||Extended Day (8-5)|
Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten Rooms Monthly Tuition Rates (ages 3-5)
|Days/Week||School Day (9-4)||Extended Day (8-5)|
*We are currently in the process of qualifying for ACT 166 Funding. However, if you need financial assistance, please visit the Child Care Financial Assistance Program to see if you qualify for income-based financial assistance.
Please fill out the OZ Full Circle Preschool Admission Form.
If you have any questions regarding the program, email communication is preferred. Please email Erika, Program Director at [email protected]. Please note that we require a full year contract and only enroll new children at the start of each school year every fall.
You can review the OZFC Preschool Parent Handbook here.
You can view the OZFC School Calendar here.