My son is in mrs. Berden/Wiseman 4yr preschool class now and I think they are excellent with the kids. There is a lot of structure in the classroom and they don't put up with whinning or violence in the classroom. They are kind, but stern with the kids when they need to be, but they are fun and my son loves them. In a couple years my youngest will be attending stepanski and I am looking forward to him having mrs. Berden/Wiseman for teachers just like his big brother.
Overall I've been very pleased with Stepanski for my child's first school experience. She attended the Hand-in-Hand program as a 2 year old with Mrs. Hungerford, and also had her for 3 year old preschool and a number of their summer enrichment classes. Mrs. H is simply the most wonderful preschool teacher you would want for your kids going to school for the first time - she is so warm and so caring and she helps all the kids feel great about being there. She then had Mrs. Berden and Mrs. Wiseman for 4 year old preschool - while they were good teachers, and my daughter did well in their class, it is much more rigid and structured. I was disappointed with how they treated some of the other kids who weren't as good about following the rules and seemed to show more frustration than patience with them. The 4 year old program is more academic-based and they did a great job preparing the kids for kindergarten, but I worry for some kids it could be a really negative experience rather than a positive one. The impression that they gave me was that they would be better off teaching older kids in grade school. My daughter as enjoyed the child care program as well.
My daughter attended both the wraparound child care and the 4 year old 4-day class. I found the child care to be sufficient but disorganized: issues with meal times (some days she wouldn't eat more than a few bites at lunch) and communication (the morning people wouldn't talk to the afternoon people so when I would pick her up, no one would tell me of how she got that cut/scrape). The preschool class was okay - but there was absolutely no personalized attention. Your child will learn only what the teacher is expected to teach - my child went backwards in learning because she wasn't being challenged and I had taught her everything they were going to teach. The extras (library, gym, etc) were good and the playground is great. This preschool is better if your child is just starting to get ready for school, not already ready for school.
My sons both attended Stepanski. One in HeadStart and one in Alternative Kindergarten. It's unfortunate that this little school only goes to kindergarten. They should be the model of how a school is run, taught, etc. The teachers and staff are wonderful. Also, every HeadStart teacher has a Bachelor's degree at the minimum. Most continue their education and Stepanski does not have a high turn-over for staff. That alone says something.
We have a 4 year old daughter that will start her 3rd year in the fall of '07. She has Cerebral Palsy. While I feel the school could be updated a bit, the Teachers, Aides and Therapists are great! They take the time needed for helping their children succeed.
We get great feedback from the staff and our son and has really taken off. He started the WPSEE program at 3 and is making great progress with his speech delay. He loves going to school and will actually become upset if school is closed or on holiday break.
My son went to this school as well, also had Mrs. Berden/Mrs. Wiseman as well as the child care program. Found the entire program to be beneficial and fruitful. Nice environment. Principal seems to respond well to feedback.