Wednesday, April 23, 2014

School Information Series: St. Stephens Episcopal Preschool

Thanks to Amy for writing this post about another great preschool option in Durham!  

Type of School: Half-Day Preschool

You’ll find a colorful, creative, and caring environment at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Preschool (SSEP). As a former preschool teacher and college instructor, I have been extremely pleased with the engaging, educational environment created by the energetic and enthusiastic team at this school. My oldest daughter is about to complete her second year, and my youngest her first.

“The mission of St. Stephen’s Preschool, as an integral part of the parish, is to offer an educational program grounded in the Word of God that nurtures the whole person of every child under our care.   By careful and constant attention to social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical and creative growth, an educational experience is presented that fosters the love of learning and growth in a warm and welcoming community that mirrors God’s love for all His children.”

St. Stephen’s Preschool was founded in 1962 and is accredited by the Durham and Orange Preschool Association (DOPA) and the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAEP). The student-teacher ratios vary by age: younger 2 year-olds is 1:5; older 2 year-olds is 1:6; 3 year-olds is 1:6; four year-olds is 1:8. 

The teachers’ lesson plans are driven by the school’s adoption of the Creative Curriculum. The SSEP website indicates, “The Creative Curriculum is an award-winning curriculum for preschool success. Using exploration and discovery as a way of learning, The Creative Curriculum enables children to develop confidence, creativity, and lifelong critical thinking skills. The Creative Curriculum has helped teachers understand developmentally appropriate practice and how to create daily routines and meaningful experiences that respond to children’s strengths, interests, and needs.”
Teachers report to parents on a weekly basis about the week’s activities in the classroom, songs practiced, books read, and upcoming events. Every morning, parents and students are first greeted by the Preschool Director Tamiko Sanders at the school’s entrance and then by their teachers at the classroom entrance. My girls are enamored with their teachers; they talk about them frequently away from school and look forward to seeing them on school mornings.

Children participate in a Music Class, Creative Movement Class, and Chapel once a week. Outdoor learning is incorporated every day at St. Stephen’s. The spacious and shaded playground has appropriate play structures and outdoor activities. Children also learn about planting and growing food in the SSEP Garden. Lunch Bunch is available for potty-trained children; for a small fee, children can stay an additional hour for lunch (brought from home) and outdoor play. St. Stephen’s is a tree nut-free campus and also complies with any additional allergies on a classroom basis. 

Throughout the school year, children participate in a variety of events: Preschool Annual Picnic; Fire Truck Visit; Pumpkin Patch Party; Christmas Program; Creative Movement Program; Dr. Seuss Celebration; Easter Egg Hunt; Popsicle Parties; and Visits from Rags to Riches and Kazoom Theaters. 

Community service activities are another community-building aspect of St. Stephen’s. This year, the school participated in a food drive for The Durham Rescue Mission, and we assembled kindergarten readiness kits and held a book drive for the East Durham Children’s Initiative. Parents and siblings are always invited to participate in events and service activities.

I am most impressed with the strong leadership, committed teachers, and loving atmosphere at St. Stephen’s. Both my children have blossomed in this environment. And I look forward to their continued growth in the upcoming school year.

St. Stephen’s is currently accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year.

Available classes are:
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 2 year old class
Tuesday/Thursday 2 year old class

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 3 year old class
Monday - Thursday 3 year old class
Tuesday/Thursday/Friday 3 year old class

Monday - Thursday Pre-K class (4 year old)
Monday – Friday Pre-K class (4 year old)

If you would like to learn more about our school or to schedule a school tour, please contact Preschool Director Tamiko Sanders at 919.489.6789 or

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