History of Southampton Kindergarten


Taken from News article by Mrs. [Margarget] William Walden, III

February, 1972

An idea became a reality on Nov. 5, 1956, when the first Southampton kindergarten class met at the Norris School in a minimally equipped room with spare school desks stored on one side, to provide an unplanned climbing delight for the children. For a long time, the Southampton Mothers’ Club had been concerned about the need for their children to play and work together before starting school. The whole story of the time and effort that went into that beginning is a vague memory now, though the name of Mrs. Edmund Stasz and Mrs. Donald Madsen are the most prominent amongst the many

Mrs. Herman Andrews was the first teacher and remember[s] pupils by the particular rooms they inhabited. The second year they were moved to a room that doubled as the cafeteria, with folding tables and benches stored at one end, requiring the children to be out well before lunch so the tables could be set up.

The third year had a room to themselves, but the Norris School was filling up. When Mrs. Robert Breyer began teaching the next year, they were squeezed into an office-sized room with one tiny cupboard for all their supplies. When the pupils lay down on their mats for rest period, it was carpeted with wall-to-wall children.

The floating kindergarten was squeezed out completely for a new classroom [and] ended in the library cellar, which required $2,100 worth of refurbishing to create a classroom – such as ceiling, sink, water heater, cabinets, [and] safety exits. The Mother’s Club donated $300 from the treasury, and raised another $300 [that]was stretched to cover the whole job as citizens of Southampton saved the day with volunteer labor.

No less than 65 people were engaged in carpentry, plumbing, painting and so forth, in order to have a room ready for the first double sessions to begin in September, 1960…

[Meanwhile,] the Mothers’ Club was building up the stock of equipment replacing the decrepit old chairs and tables with regulation school furniture that would be given to the town when it took over kindergarten.

In August, 1964 the committee found that they were now subject to licensing by the Department of Public Health, …  They were able to hold classes in the Norris School again that year in a room temporarily available, then again faced the question of how to comply with the new rules.

The improvements included a tile floor, a concrete fire wall to protect the children from the boiler, and later, replace[ment] of the antiquated spring-flush seated toilet which had long terrified the youngsters…

The Kindergarten Committee began to experience financial difficulties last year and this year fewer parents have been able to afford to send their children to kindergarten… To add to this, the library now is badly in need of the basement area for its own use.

With these difficulties in mind and the knowledge that the school system now has the long-awaited classroom space available for a public kindergarten for every child who wants to go, the Mothers’ Club voted to disband their kindergarten at the end of this school year and to offer their equipment and furnishings to the town… It is impossible to estimate the hours of work and the number of individuals who have contributed so much to the welfare of the 500 or so children who attended the classes.

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