Mary Poppins Co-Operative Preschool, Caledonia, Inc., is a non-profit preschool, for 18- 30 months (Toddler) and 2 ½ to 5 year old (Preschool Programs) owned and operated by its member parents, where a child can develop to their fullest potential, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.
The preschool was established in October, 1966 by some eager parents looking for a preschool education for their children. A location was found- Grace United Church and the Ministry of Community and Social Services granted a license. Teachers were hired- Joan Burns and Elsie(Dack) Anderson for that first year. Lynn Lovatt, Edith Fuller, Debbie Henshaw, Yvonne Jackson and Nancy Simington were other qualified teachers till 1976. The first year saw an enrollment of fifteen families- the school operated mornings only and the fees were a low fifteen dollars a month. In the spring of 1972 an afternoon class was also added as the preschool membership grew.
On May 7th, 1975, the preschool became incorporated; thus becoming Mary Poppins Preschool Caledonia Incorporated.
In 1976 Barbara Fay was hired as Supervisor and Coleen (Delano) Rakoczy as teacher.
After 17 years at the Grace United location, the preschool relocated in September of 1983, to the lower level of the Scotia Bank on Argyle Street North. Mary Poppins had full enrollment and a waiting list. In 1992 the program was changed to accommodate more children- a 3day and a 2 day program were successfully introduced.
1993- the preschool relocated to the Caledonia Lions Hall, 100 Haddington Street, Caledonia.
The preschool was involved with the Lions Club and the Town of Haldimand in the Spring of 1995 in building a new playground at the park, for the community’s children. The preschool contributed $5000 towards the playground.
Twice annually the preschool contributes to the Caledonia & District Food Bank.
Canada Day Celebrations as well as Light-up night in November, are two of the community activities that the preschool participates in.
We received a 1st place ribbon in July of 1997, 3rd place in 1998 and in 1999, 2nd place for participation in the Canada Day parade.
The past few years we have participated at the Kinsmen park with an Information/Play-doh table set-up for the children.
At the annual Light-up Night in November the preschool also has a play-doh
table for children to enjoy while waiting for Santa to arrive.
Through the Sachem/Gazette paper, we have also been voted the “Best Preschool” for several years in a row.
Mrs. Rakoczy retired in 1999 after 23 years at Mary Poppins, as the school downsized due the implementation of Junior Kindergarten. The program changed to two, 2 day programs, one Monday and Tuesday morning, and one Wednesday and Thursday morning. The 3 day afternoon class remained the same- Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday.
2001- Joanne McConachie hired to teach 5 mornings.
2002- a Senior Class, taught by Mrs. Fay, was introduced for Monday/Tuesday/ Wednesday afternoons to accommodate those families who wished an afternoon Senior Class. The Junior classes, 3 day and 2 day are Monday to Friday mornings.
2005- a new Junior class, taught by Mrs. McConachie, was introduced for Wednesday/Thursday afternoons. The school now has a total of 72 children enrolled in all programs. Our ratio continues to be 4 to 1 which ensures that all the
children have the guidance and attention they need at this age.
In 2006 Mrs. Fay remarried and is now Mrs. Wilson.
2008-2009 school year had an enrollment of 67 children.
2009-2010- This is marks another change in programming. It was decided to enroll students for the morning only which brings us to a total of 48 children. The Senior Class is Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday mornings and the two Junior Classes are Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday morning AND a 2 day class, Thursday & Friday mornings.
The school year, 2010-2011, sees programs the same as the last- mornings only. Teachers continue to be Mrs. Barbara Wilson and Mrs. Joanne McConachie.
In 2013-2014 another change as a Toddler Program was introduced for Friday mornings (9:30 to 11:30) taught by Mrs. McConachie. Enrollment was 11 children.
The Preschool Programs, Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday saw an enrollment of 51 children. (3 of these children attended all 4 mornings.)
The 2014-2015 school year had enrollment of 43 children with the same class structure as last year. It also marks the beginning of the 49th school year.
Mrs. Barbara Wilson RECE has been with the school for 39 years (since 1976) & Mrs. Joanne McConachie RECE for 15 years (1983-1984 & from 2001 to the present.
Our home since 1993 is the Caledonia Lions Hall, but this Hall will be torn down in April/May of 2015 & a new one will be built onto the present arena/library complex (HCCC) next door. Mary Poppins will move to the Re Max Room in the HCCC, April 18th with classes beginning Monday April 20th.
Many thanks to the staff of the County for the use of the Re Max Room in the interim.
(The preschool will move back to the new Hall in the Spring of 2016)
September 2015 – September 2016 – our 50th Anniversary Year!
In February of 2016, the preschool was awarded the Business Achievement Award for 2015 sponsored by the Caledonia Chamber of Commerce. As it is our 50th Anniversary year this was a very special award to receive!
For 50 years, Caledonia & area children & their parents have been experiencing the ABC's & 123's at Mary Poppins Co-Operative Preschool. It's more than just an introduction to academic learning; it's connecting with other children & parents in the community that makes it a great place to be. Being a co-operative means that parents also have an opportunity to get involved in their child's first academic experience.
Several events are being planned through the year to mark this special occasion.
Mrs. McConachie retired in June of 2015 and & Kate Down is hired in August of 2015.
We have the same class structure for the 2015-2016 school year- 15 children enrolled for the Monday /Wednesday class, 15 for the Tuesday/Thursday class and 10 in our Toddler Tyme program.
Mrs. Wilson teaches the Mon/Wed class & does administration items on the Tuesday.
Ms Down teaches the Tuesday/Thursday class as well as the Toddler tyme program on Fridays.
Our current enrollment is 40 children- 30 in the preschool programs & 10 in the Toddler Tyme program.
Because of the hard work by parents over the years, we can feel proud of our program and the many pieces of equipment and educational toys available to our children. Every year parents work diligently to fund raise to keep the fees for the program low so that all families may have the opportunity to benefit from an affordable quality preschool program.
A good preschool is one where the children find pleasure in developing new skills, to feel that they are worthwhile and growing persons, helping each child to understand him/herself and others, to gain in self discipline and most of all to like the person he/she is becoming.
For 50 years, Mary Poppins has played an important role in providing a preschool education for Caledonia and area children- Caledonia can be proud of its parent co-operative preschool!
In our 51st year, 2016/2017, the same class structure as 2015/2016 is offered.
Mrs. Wilson teaches the Monday/Wednesday class and does administration items on Tuesdays. Ms. Down/Skinner teaches the Tuesday/Thursday class and Mrs.. Elfner teaches the Toddler Tyme program. There is a total of 38 children ( 15 in the Monday/Wednesday class, 16 in the Tuesday/Thursday class & 7 in Toddler Tyme)
Ms Skinner-Down resigned in April of 2017 to pursue a career with the HWHSB.
Many good luck wishes for her career!
Our preschool family welcomes Mrs. Elfner who will continue teaching the Toddler Tyme Class on Fridays as well as the Tuesday/Thursday Class for the remainder of the school year. Thank you Mrs. Elfner!
Mrs. Wilson retires in June of 2017 after a very rewarding career of 41 years at Mary Poppins. Best wishes to the preschool for many more years of offering a quality educational program for Caledonia & area children!
Thank you to all the parents who as a child attended Mary Poppins and have returned with their own children!
-Written by Barb Wilson