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Dublin

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Spirit of Giving: Dublin Community Preschool & Childcare Center

  • Cathy Carabello helps preschool student Lily Albert, 4, put on her winter clothing before going outside on Wednesday morning.

    Cathy Carabello helps preschool student Lily Albert, 4, put on her winter clothing before going outside on Wednesday morning.

  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

    Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

    Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

    Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

    Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

    Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

    Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

    Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

    Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

  • Cathy Carabello helps preschool student Lily Albert, 4, put on her winter clothing before going outside on Wednesday morning.
  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.
  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.
  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.
  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.
  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.
  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.
  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.
  • Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center Director Cathy Carabello runs a small preschool and daycare center in Dublin that works to connect children with their community.

At first sight, the Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center is pretty inconspicuous. Hidden away in one of the rooms inside the complex across from Old County Road on Route 101, the location of the preschool is easy to miss. It’s no secret, though, that this school and its students are active, inside and outside the classroom. Just drive by the school in the late morning when the children go outside for the first of two or three times during the day, or just ask other local community organizations, many of whom have a partnership with the preschool.

Just as is indicated in the nonprofit’s name, Dublin Community Preschool and Childcare Center has had a role in the town of Dublin ever since it opened nearly 50 years ago. After starting up in the post office building and moving between various rooms in the Dublin Community Church, Town Hall, Dublin School and elementary school, the preschool is now housed in the Route 101 complex, where it relocated eight years ago. According to Cathy Carabello, who has worked for the preschool for 20 years and has been the director for the last 13, Dublin Community Preschool was always trying to improve. “Every move that we’ve made over the years has been a positive change,” she said in an interview Wednesday. She added that their current space is the best so far.

The brightly lit, colorful and open room where the preschool is was not always that way. When the preschool was in preliminary negotiations with the building’s new buyer, their prospective room was all cement, had a fallen-in ceiling and no windows. Now, with wide windows, butterfly-friendly landscaping, garden space and a big kitchen, the room is perfectly suited for the Dublin Community Preschool’s students and their activities.

The things the preschool students do in their classroom are many and varied. “We have an eclectic philosophy here with our education,” Carabello said. The students learn through a child-centered curriculum, in which play is the students’ work. In addition to learning about baking in the kitchen, growing food in the garden, and being environmentally responsible through recycling, children go outside two or three times a day, playing in the school’s fenced in playground in the field next door or on the ridge behind the school building, where kids can sled or snowshoe in the wintertime. Inside the classroom, students learn about different cultural celebrations, pick up foreign languages, and use sign language daily. They love sign language, according to Carabello. “They can’t get enough, and sometimes, we have to look stuff up!” Carabello later added, “That whole piece is exciting. We’re creating kids who want to learn.”

Carabello also mentioned that the preschool brings in community educators to work with the children. A grandmother who teaches Spanish, naturalists from the Harris Center for Conservation Education, Kin Shilling from the Cornucopia Project, a health educator from Monadnock Healthy Teeth to Toes, and a mother who teaches music are among those who visit and teach. “We try to reach out that way,” Carabello said, adding that anyone with a special talent is typically encouraged to share with the students.

Dublin Community Preschool brings people into the classroom, and it also takes the students outside of it. The preschool has a particular emphasis on field trips, looking to help students connect what they’re learning or doing to the real world. “Helping [students] form basic connections to help them become informed and healthy adults is our goal,” said Carabello, adding that she often takes children to local farms so they may understand where their food really comes from.

While field trips may be decreasing in popularity with other educational programs because of the expense and time, Carabello feels its worthwhile. “Not everyone chooses to use the resources in the community,” she said. “We just feel like it’s worth taking the extra time and having the kids exposed.”

Making the effort to be involved in the local community is something the school specializes in. In addition to doing food drives in the fall and spring for the Monadnock Food Bank, filling a “giving tree” up with hats, mittens and scarves to be distributed by the Dublin Community Church in December, and putting on concerts in area nursing homes, the preschool students often visit their neighbors in the building and hand out baked treats for various holidays, like Halloween in October and St. Lucia’s Day in December. For Carabello, all of this is part of the students’ education. “We feel that it teaches the kids that it’s important to give, to not always think about receiving,” she said.

This mentality of generosity is perhaps what has kept Dublin Community Preschool open for so many years. Carabello said preschools doing only education programs often find themselves in financial trouble, which is why Dublin Community School does before- and after-school care as well. “We had to kind of change with the needs of the community,” Carabello said, indicating that Dublin families are working more, and are home less in the face of personal financial burdens. The school has expanded its hours to span between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. each day, and it is sending out a survey this winter to find out the needs of the current 25 families the preschool serves. “We always go where the need is,” Carabello said. The school often helps find grants, from places like Dublin Community Foundation, for families who need financial help. “We have some assistance we can offer,” Carabello said.

The preschool must tap into the community’s resources to give this kind of help to families in need. Tuition at the school ranges from $176 per month to $900 per month, depending on the schedule a child is on, and these payments don’t cover the school’s costs by far, Carabello said. To bridge the gap, the school appeals to preschool alumni and Dublin residents for donations each year. “We rely heavily on donations,” Carabello said.

Despite its tight finances, the Dublin Community Preschool does not want to raise tuition rates if it can help it. “We try to keep our rates as competitive as we can,” said Carabello. “We want to stay accessible to the community.”

For more information, see www.dublincommunitypreschool.org.

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