Timson Hill Preschool turns 25

Anniversary party celebrates community effort created and sustained the school

WILLIAMSVILLE — This year marks the 25th anniversary for the Timson Hill Preschool, a small, nonprofit school in the hills of Williamsville.

The preschool, preserved by its owners, the Williamsville School Preservation Society (WSPS), was acquired by the town through a dispute with the landowners. That dispute went to the Vermont Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the town.

The current building that sits on Timson Hill is not the original building, many townspeople would tell you. The original building burned down Jan. 29, 1883, and in the summer following its tragic end, the town rebuilt it. The building is now celebrating its 130th anniversary.

In 1987, the town was trying to decide what to do with the then-vacant school building.

“A number of people in the community felt the need for a local day care or preschool, as most other options were located in Brattleboro, Dummerston, or Townshend,” Walter Phelps writes of the school's beginning. “Ultimately, a group convinced the Newfane Selectboard to sell the school for one dollar, the title to be conveyed by a quitclaim deed to the property,” he continues.

That group was WSPS, which, since then, worked with the community to make sure the school meets code and stays in working condition.

The Timson Hill Preschool is a NAEYC accredited, five-star preschool that values a philosophy centered on play and children's natural curiosity.

Kathie Gatto-Gurney, the school's director, says she believes that the school's success is due to community and family - what she calls a family cooperative.

“Parents and teachers are consistent and there's a lot of learning through play, a value that's being lost nowadays. [The school] is about keeping the joy of learning alive,” she says.

Twenty-five years later, on April 27, the school board and parents organized a silent auction and Latin dance party to raise money for the school's enrichment programs and scholarship.

“We hope the community enjoyed themselves,” Gatto-Gurney said. “We hope the community learned a little bit of history about Timson Hill Preschool as we raise some money to help support enrichment programs and scholarships.”

The Timson Hill Preschool has seen hundreds of children go through its doors. Due to the work of the dedicated parents, community members, teachers, and members of WSPS, everyone involved hopes to see many more continue to come through.

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