Back to School 2020

Letter from the President, Mairead Garry

Hello to the GCNS Community,


I hope this letter finds you all in good health! And I hope you and your families have been trying to get a taste of the season by getting outdoors and trying to do some ‘normal’ summer activities as much as you can safely do. My family has been enjoying the beach, pool and playground and we have run into some of our GCNS friends there! My children have been happy to see their friends even it is at a distance. I continue to be thankful for fine weather and fresh air.


As summer winds down we begin to plan for ‘Back To School’ and this year that planning comes with many hurdles for all of our families and we all have been learning about what school will look and feel like for our children. My older two children, Hugh and Kirby, who are entering 2nd and 3rd Grade, will be attending school full-time this September. My husband Matt and I have been preparing them for the year ahead and explaining how different it will be. But to our surprise over the past 5 months our children have shown us they are much more flexible and resilient than we expected. I have also learned from many other parents that their children welcomed the slow-down that this time has provided for their families. There are silver linings all around and I am definitely seeing them every day! For one, I definitely appreciate time spent with family and friends so much more now.


At GCNS the staff has been hard at work to prepare our school for a safe reopening. It will be so amazing for our children to have even more time outdoors with two new awnings the school has installed that will act as an extension of our indoor classroom and will provide cover from light rain or shade for sunnier days. The school has been deep cleaned and every protocol has been followed so that our children and staff are safe.


As we look to this year ahead I am be hopeful that our children will get the experience of GCNS the same way all of the students have in the past. It might look a little different but our Cooperative Education, Standards, and Values will still be the same. My daughter, Anna Kate, who will be in Pre-K East this year cannot wait to go back to school and I can’t wait to see you and your children again.



Mairead Garry

2020/2021 Board President

Pre-K East

Letter from the Director, Francie Cohn

Throughout the summer, I have been on calls with OCFS (Office of Children and Family Services) and the Long Island Leadership Initiative, trainings with the LI Pre-K Initiative and BOCES, and in discussion with the other Co-op Directors to learn about the guidelines and how to apply them. Our Reopening Plan is deeply considered after much discussion with the Board so that we meet and exceed mandated and best-practice recommendations in a way that supports our children, families, staff and school community. We are not compromising our school philosophy and teaching style. Happily, we can still do slow separation and have participation days. Our hidden acre of property is making so much possible.

Thank you all for supporting us as we enter this unprecedented school year. We can’t wait to

see you and your children in person.


Board of Trustees, 2020-2021

President: Mairead Garry

VPs, Fundraising: Courtney Inman & Meredith Mormile

VP, Membership: Jennifer Houston

VP, Maintenance: Matthew Tittler & Open position

Treasurer, Payables: Open position

Treasurer, Receivables: Jackie Colon

Treasurer, Billing: Brittany O’Shea

Secretary: Open position

Communications: Dawn Dennis

Health: Amy McGlynn & Marlyn Onofrio

Purchasing: Open position

Participation: Yasmine Iliya

Hospitality: Amy McGlynn & Marlyn Onofrio

Miss Chocolate: Rashi Rohatgi

Children’s Event: Emily Kasel

Raffles: Jackie Cavallini & Megan Sorrentino

Holiday Fundraiser: Courtney Inman & Meredith Mormile

Cabin Fever Party: Lindsy Hannan

Past President: Bridgette Mastaglio

Committee Assignments

Every GCNS family serves on one committee per year.

If you haven’t already done so, please submit your preference form. Please email Courtney Inman at cfalk23@gmail.com or Meredith Mormile at meredithmormile@gmail.com with any questions.

September Calendar

Week of Sept. 8: Parent-Teacher Conferences (you will be contacted by your teacher)

Monday, Sept. 14: Classes begin – Short sessions for Playgroups & Pre-K W classes

Tuesday, Sept. 15: Classes begin – Short sessions for Nursery & Pre-K E & W classes

Wednesday, Sept. 16: Short sessions for Nursery classes

Thursday, Sept. 17: Short sessions for Playgroups & Pre-K classes

Friday, Sept. 18: Short sessions for Nursery & Pre-K E classes

Mid-September to Mid-October: Miss Chocolate Fundraiser (Gift wrap, Cookie Dough & Frozen Pies)

TBA: Back to School Nights

TBA: Social Events

**Detailed information on back-to-school for individual classes can be found at the end of this newsletter**

Maintenance Session

Saturday, Sep. 12th, 7-9:30am

50 Cherry Valley Avenue

Garden City, NY

The purpose of this session is to prepare the building and playgrounds for the opening of school: weed and spruce up the grounds, power wash playground equipment, do simple repairs and add air to bicycle tires. Please RSVP to Matt Tittler tittlerm@gmail.com if you plan to attend. If you have a power washer, leaf blower, or air pump please let him know and bring it to the session, along with a rake and work gloves. A few extra hammers, screw drivers and wrenches are sometimes helpful. Masks are required.

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Fall Semester Tuition

Tuition for the fall semester was due over the summer. Spring semester tuition will be billed in January. The fall semester runs from Sept-Jan; spring runs from Feb-June.

As a reminder, each family is required to participate in one maintenance session per semester (for a total of two between Sept-June). You can also opt out of maintenance for a $150 fee per semester.

Please contact our Billing Treasurer, Brittany O’Shea, at Brittany.g.oshea@gmail.com with any questions.

Capital Improvements

This summer, we purchased two awnings and tables to create outdoor classrooms, two utility sinks for outdoor hand washing, and an abundance of PPE and sanitizing/cleaning products. Our sprinkler system had a major overhaul this summer as well. We will add new mulch and sand to the playgrounds as needed and remove a large oak tree from the west side hill.

Capital improvements are funded by our very successful fundraising efforts. Thank you all for helping us reinvest in our amazing building and grounds!

Getting Ready for School

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Week of Sept. 8th

We will begin the school year with a “Get to Know Your Child” conference. A strong home/school connection is essential in building a supportive environment for young children.

Your teacher will contact you by email to set up a conference time, which may be in person or by phone. Please complete the Interview Form and Special Education Services form (if applicable) in advance of the conference. Teachers have found that an early conference in which parents can share information about their child and their expectations for the school year is especially useful.

Required: Extra Clothing

All children in ALL classes must bring a Ziploc bag, marked with their full name, containing an extra set of seasonal clothes to be left at school: shirt, pants, socks, underwear or diaper with wipes. Please label all items.

Bring the clothing to your parent-teacher conference (or on the first day of school, for telephone conferences), along with an extra mask. Please see below for our mask policy. Outdoor clothing for all children should be clearly marked with your last name.

For safety outside, rubber soled shoes or sneakers WITH SOCKS must be worn every day; no flip flops, crocs, slides or clogs. Also, for safe climbing, dresses may be worn on birthdays only.

GCNS Mask Policy

Masks should be labeled with the child’s name and last initial. An extra labeled mask will be kept at school—please bring it in a Ziploc bag clearly labeled with your child’s full name.

Please practice a “school mask policy” with your child, the same way you have a “family mask policy” for going out. Help children acclimate slowly at home. Stretch mask time during fun activities when the child can forget they are wearing it. Be gentle with the approach.

We will give gentle reminders that masks are worn at the tables at school and inside the classroom. We are learning to navigate this together.

Parent Participation Days

Participation days will take place on the playground. Dress for the weather!

Your class parents will reach out with information about online scheduling for your participation day. One parent/family member/caregiver can participate per class. The participating adult is expected to arrive on time and stay about 10 minutes after dismissal, and Playgroup and Nursery parents should bring a new, unopened snack (nothing homemade or home prepared) for the class on their child’s “special day.”

Welcome to a New School Year!

Information Required for First Day of School

Health and Immunization Form

Dental Form for Nursery and Pre-K children

Emergency Contact Information & Child Release Policy

Special Education Services Form (if applicable)Family Interview Form


Emergency Data – Child Release combo.pdf


Special Ed Form.pdf


Family Interview Form.pdf

First Days

It is normal to be nervous as you send your little one out into the world, but remember, you are giving your child a gift by teaching independence. Starting school is an exciting time but can be overwhelming. Please do not tell your child, “I’ll miss you” or “school is only for children.” Be calm and thoughtful in both conversation and demeanor. We have short sessions with divided groups for all children during the first week of school to account for excitement and fatigue.

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Slow Separation

New Children

An adult should plan to stay with their child until the teacher and director feel that he or she is ready for separation. Playgroup and Nursery classes may continue to have divided short sessions so that each child can have an adult with them as needed. The maximum group size allowed is 15 children and adults (excluding staff).

Even eager four year olds have qualms in a new situation. It has been our experience that children make a more solid and lasting adjustment when parents and caregivers serve as a bridge between home and school for the first few days. Reminding children that they will soon be staying alone is not necessary and only builds up anxiety, which can slow their adjustment.

Returning Students

Parents and caregivers of continuing children should be prepared to stay for a short time if the child experiences some anxiety about staying on his or her own. Remember the shortened daily schedule for the first week!

Helpful Reminders

Keep in mind that nursery school is about learning through play. Even with the pandemic and school closures, no child is behind. They have been exploring, building, making connections and most importantly having unhurried quality time and conversation with family. Many times, parents want to focus on getting children to read. Doing puzzles, recognizing shapes, scribbling and tracing are all progressive steps on the ladder to reading and later school success. If any of these important steps are missed, you child will fall off the ladder. We don’t expect a baby to walk before he or she learns to sit up, and then to crawl; therefore, we shouldn’t push children to read before their eyes, ears, fine motor skills and minds are ready. Learning through exploration, discovery and play will allow your child to blossom in an organic way.

During the school year, please remember a few courtesies:

  • Feed your child before coming to school (breakfast in morning or a snack before Pre-K)
  • Adhere to the COVID-19 health policy about symptoms and illness. We all want to keep our children, families and staff healthy and safe.
  • Read the Parent Handbook (which will be sent via email in early September)
  • Read school emails and newsletters which will contain important information. You will receive emails from your class parent(s), GCNS and the GCNS director.
  • Finally, please trust us. We have your child’s best interests in mind when we plan each day. Reach out to your child’s teacher, class parent, our Business Manager Jessica Dowd-Wilde or our Director Francie Cohn with questions or concerns.

Welcome New Families!

Playgroup: Affronti, Donovan, Doyle, Hernandez, Loos, Mattice, McHugh, Overby, Pasch

Filippo, Belmonte, DeMuth, Khawaja, Masterson, Munnelly

Nursery: Albareda-Padilla, Caruso, Cuiman, Adams, Huber, Millot, Moy, Roland, Vitez, Burns, Lau, Meriam

Pre-K: Affronti, Doggendorf, Lara, Munnelly, Masterson

Returning Families: Benn, Curran, Slevin, Torregrosa

Alumni Parents: Emmert, Hannan, McGlynn, Minardi, Kasel, Inman, Mirecki-Yazinsky, Sbeglia, Garry, Tittler, McDermott

Staff Updates

This unprecedented year is bringing a number of staff changes as four long-time staff take a leave of absence. We are also hiring extra staff to comply with guidelines: when dividing classes larger than 15 into cohorts, or family groups, each cohort will require two staff members. Please join us in welcoming the following new or returning staff members!

Cathleen Lear

Cathleen Lear is joining Playgroup West and Pre-K West as an assistant teacher.

Cathi is the parent of three GCNS graduates. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the school and was an assistant at the summer program for 2 years. Prior to starting her family, Cathi was a senior sales representative and product developer for a Fortune 500 clothing company. She headed Arts-In-Education for the Garden City PTA, was President of several volunteer organizations in GC and volunteered in the Pediatrics departments of Winthrop and Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospitals for many years. Cathi is passionate about gardening, the environment, various forms of musical theatre and development of the youngest members of our community on their way to responsible stewardship of our natural resources.

Kathleen Macchia

Kathleen Macchia returns as an assistant teacher/floater in Pre-K West.

She has been a substitute teacher at GCNS in previous years. Kathleen earned a Bachelor of Science degree from LIU Post, where she majored in Secondary English education. She then earned a Masters’ degree in Reading from Adelphi University. Kathleen holds NYS certification in Adolescent English Education and NYS certification in Literacy. Kathleen has taught Middle School English in the Uniondale School District and has taught as a substitute in the Manhasset, Garden City and West Hempstead School Districts. She lives in West Hempstead with her husband and their three children, two of whom are GCNS alumni. Kathleen is also very involved in her home school district and currently serves as the West Hempstead Elementary PTA Co-President.

During her free time, she enjoys visiting museums, zoos and gardens with her family. Her interests include art, literature, and volunteering as a Girl Scout leader to her daughter’s troop and being an Association Chair for the Nassau County Chapter of Girl Scouts.

Marielle McCartin

Marielle McCartin will be head teacher in Playgroup West and assistant teacher in Nursery West.

“Hi my name is Miss Marielle McCartin. I grew up in Garden City, where I attended the Garden City Nursery School from Playgroup through Pre-K. I then attended Stewart School and the Garden City Middle School before graduating from Our Lady of Mercy Academy in 2013. In 2017, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Hofstra University. In May of 2021, I will graduate from Hofstra University for the 2nd time with a Master’s Degree in early childhood education B-2 and childhood education 1-6. I plan to continue my education beyond my Master’s Degree to study curriculum development and educational technology. I am so excited to return to the GCNS this year. My goal is to create a playful school environment, where our students are fully engaged in authentic, hands-on learning that is meaningful and fun!”

Dolores McDonnell

Dolores McDonnell is joining Playgroup West as an assistant teacher and Pre-K West as a floater.

She has lived in Garden City for the past 30 years and her four children attended GCNS. Dolores graduated from LIU Post with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She currently volunteers for the Road to Recovery program, American Cancer Society and the Share a Meal program at St. Anne’s Church. Her interests include cooking, reading, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends.

Kelly McDonnell

Kelly McDonnell is joining Playgroup East as an assistant teacher.

Kelly is a GCNS alumnae and a recent graduate from Penn State University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management. Kelly has spent her time working in hospitality at The Nittany Lion Inn at Penn State, Leo’s Midway in Garden City, and the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor, NJ. In her free time she likes to read, exercise, and spend time with her family and friends.

Josephine Scheel

Josephine Scheel is joining Nursery West as a floater and Pre-K West as an assistant teacher.

Josephine is the parent of two GCNS graduates. She has been a piano teacher for over 40 years. Prior to joining GCNS, she was the music teacher and an assistant teacher at a local nursery school for 10 years. Josephine is passionate about working with children and helping them overcome any obstacles they may have. She volunteered for 15 years in the Special Education community of West Hempstead UFSD. Josephine loves animals, working out, skiing, hanging out with family and laughing!

Connie Tarian

Connie Tarian joins Pre-K East as an assistant teacher and Nursery East as a floater.

Connie has lived in Garden City for many years where she has been an active member of the community. She received an Associates degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology and currently volunteers as an art teacher for both children and adults through Hola of Garden City, a non-profit community organization.

Connie’s previous experience includes working as an assistant teacher at the Glen Cove Childcare Center where she had the opportunity to teach pre-k and sub as head teacher. At Corpus Christi Church, Connie was the Coordinator of the Children’s Choir for five years and volunteered as a teacher in their religious education program.

Connie and her husband raised two teenagers who are off at college. One of her hobbies is cooking and she recently picked up gardening. She is excited to join the GCNS community.

Attendance Schedule for the First Week of School

In order for our children to easily adjust, each Nursery and Pre-K group will be divided for short sessions for the first week.

Playgroups will be divided and have shortened sessions for a few weeks for slow separation.

Playgroup East

Monday & Thursday; Regular hours: 9:00 – 10:45am

Teacher: Emily Merle

Assistant Teachers: Becca Kelly and Kelly McDonnell

Group 1: 9:00 – 9:45am: James Affronti, Caroline Doyle, Chloe Hernandez, Hannah Mattice, Cecilia Porto, Noah San Filippo

Group 2: 10:00 – 10:45am: James Donovan, Caroline Loos, Soarise McHugh, Riley Overby, Carter Pasch

Playgroup West

Monday & Thursday; Regular hours: 9:00 – 10:45am

Teacher: Marielle McCartin

Assistant Teachers: Cathi Lear and Dolores McDonnell

Group 1: 9:00 – 9:45am: Cassidy Benn, Sophie Emmert, Dean Khawaja, Henry McGlynn, Clark Minardi, Reagan Slevin

Group 2: 10:00 – 10:45am: Alexandra Belmonte, Emmie DeMuth, Millie Hannan, Dylan Masterson, Tyler Masterson, Teagan Munnelly

Nursery East

Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday; Regular hours: 8:45 – 11:15am

Teacher: Megan Sorrentino

Assistant Teachers: Emily Merle and Becca Kelly

For the first week of school, the children will attend during the below times for Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday 9/18, both groups will attend from 8:45 – 10:45am. The regular schedule will begin on Tuesday, 9/21. Groups will remain static for about two weeks.

Tuesday 9/15 & Wednesday 9/16

Group 1: 8:45 – 9:55am: Thomas Hall, Charles Haunss, Mary Clare Kasel, Julian Millot, Sadie Onofrio, Benjamin Porto, Annabel Vickery, Thomas Vitez

Group 2: 10:05 – 11:15am: Mason Adams, Carmen Albareda-Padilla, Mariella Caruso, Wolf Huber, Raghav lashkery, Giuliana Moy, Benjamin Roland, Ryan Torregrosa

Friday 9/18:

Groups 1 & 2: 8:45 – 10:45am

Group 1 will start under the awning; Group 2 will start on the playground.

Nursery West

Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday; Regular hours: 8:45 – 11:15am

Teacher: Christine O’Neill

Assistant Teachers: Jen Gisolfi and Marielle McCartin

For the first week of school, the children will attend during the below times for Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday 9/18, both groups will attend from 8:45 – 10:45am. The regular schedule will begin on Tuesday, 9/21. Groups will remain static for about two weeks.

Tuesday 9/15 & Wednesday 9/16:

Group 1: 8:45 – 9:55am: Amanda Burns, Bianca Burns, Sydney Canales, Charles Clark, John Eng, Christopher Fortunato, Matthew Inman, Ella Lau, Connor Maciaszek

Group 2: 10:05 – 11:15am: Rian Jaiswal, Charles Kunz, Jason Lum, Davis Meriam, Michael Mirecki-Yazinsky, Caroline O’Shea, Nora Reilly, Gemma Sbeglia, Cole Sorrentino

Friday 9/18:

Groups 1 & 2: 8:45 – 10:45am

Group 1 will start under the awning; Group 2 will start on the playground.

Pre-K East

Regular schedule: Monday: TBD Playground social time; Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 11:45 – 2:45pm (Fall semester)


Teacher: Jackie Colon

Assistant Teachers: Emily Merle and Connie Tarian

Regular schedule begins Monday 9/21. Groups will remain static for about two weeks.

For the first week of school Pre-K E will attend:

Tuesday 9/15: divided groups for short time

Group 1: 11:45 – 1:00pm: Aubrey Affronti, Oliver Brady, Anders Cavallini, Anna Kate Garry, Rylynn Munnelly, Ashton Ovejas, Wexford Tittler

Group 2: 1:15 – 2:30pm: Nina Colon, Christopher Dennis, Audrey Doggendorf, Luca Lara, Alex Nicdao, Joseph Porto, Isla Yehia

Thursday 9/17: divided groups for short time

Group 1: 11:45 – 1:00pm

Group 2: 1:15 – 2:30pm

Friday 9/18: Whole class 11:45 -2:15pm (bring lunch)

Pre-K West

Regular schedule: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 11:45 – 2:45pm (Fall semester); Friday 11:45 – 1pm/1:15 – 2:30pm (Playground Social Time by Group)

Teacher: Kerri Macri

Assistant Teachers: Cathi Lear, Josephine Scheel

Floater: Mon/Thurs Dolores McDonnell; Floater Tues: Kathleen Macchia

Regular schedule begins Monday 9/21. Groups will remain static for about two weeks.

For the first week of school Pre-K W will attend:

Monday 9/14: divided groups for short time

Group 1: 11:45 – 1:00pm: Wesley DePeiza, Lyla Hannan, Patrick Hannan, Catherine Houston, Isabella Kunz, Brendan Maier, Benjamin Matteini, Lucy Minardi, Grady O’Brien

Group 2: 1:15 – 2:30pm: Keira Cannon, Livia Collins, Carter Curran, Hannah Kong, Alexander Masterson, Emma McDermott, Cora Mormile, Thomas O’Shea, Jack Porto, John Vickery

Tuesday 9/15: divided groups for short time

Group 1: 11:45 – 1:00pm

Group 2: 1:15 – 2:30pm

Thursday 9/17:

Group 1 & Group 2: 11:45 – 2:15pm (bring lunch)

Group 1 starts on the playground; Group 2 starts under the awning

Friday 9/18: Social Time on playground with story

Group 1: 11:45 – 1:00pm

Group 2: 1:15 – 2:30pm

Lunch for Pre-K Students

Pre-K Children Bring Lunch Starting Thursday, Sept. 17

Lunch and drink should be labeled with your child’s name. Please send simple, healthy food that your child enjoys. Three items such as bagel/small sandwich, yogurt or string cheese, crackers, fruit or veggies are more than enough. Pack utensils as needed and a napkin. Remember, we are a NUT FREE and CANDY FREE school, so NO PEANUT BUTTER sandwiches or candy of any kind. Sunflower butter is a good alternative.

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We look forward to seeing everyone in September! Please do not hesitate to contact us by email if you have any questions before the start of school.