School Highlight: Pine Village Brighton Preschool

Here at Pine Village Preschool, we are so fortunate to work with so many amazing educators and wanted to spend some time highlighting our individual schools over the next few months on our blog to showcase our staff and what is so special about each individual school. We love seeing the unique special community that grows within each Pine Village location and are so excited to shine a light on each extraordinary school community. Today, we are excited to introduce you to Denise Barcelo, Director of our Brighton location. We spoke with Denise about everything that makes our Brighton location so special!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I have had the honor of being the PVP Brighton Director since September 2012. I have been part of the Pine Village family since 2010, where I began as Pre-K teacher at our Kendall Square school. I was born and raised in New York City, where I began my career working with children. I attended Hunter College, with a major in Fine Arts, and worked as a gymnastics instructor and art teacher to children ages 2 to 13 years old. I discovered that, although I loved art, working with children was my true calling. I left Hunter and began pursuing a degree in Childhood Education at LaGuardia College. While attending school, I worked as an assistant teacher and administrative assistant at a private preschool on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and also completed my internships in NYC Public Schools. I moved to Boston in 2010, where I found Pine Village and completed my degree in Early Education and Child Development at UMASS Boston.

Working with children is magical. They force me to slow down and appreciate the things in life we forget as adults. Their creativity, their openness, and the way their eyes sparkle as they discover and explore the world is my inspiration. I am thrilled to be a part of a team, and organization, that shares the belief that early education is about discovery, getting your hands dirty, and making learning just plain fun! The joy flowing through the rooms at Pine Village is contagious and I am so lucky to be a part of it!

What makes the Brighton school location special?

​I would say that what makes the Brighton location so special is the community. It truly is a school “family,” and the sense of cooperation, support and connection is strong. The teachers have a wonderful relationship with each other, as well as with our families. Anytime any one of us needs support in any way the whole community swoops in to help.. whether someone needs a stroller, a ride somewhere, or six giant boxes of food, clothing and supplies shipped to Honduras after the hurricane… we are all ready to help each other any way we can.

How has the school and community thrived during the pandemic?

​Again, I would say that what helped us thrive here was the connection of our school community and everyone’s willingness to work together and communicate to keep our school as safe as possible. I’m happy to say (knock on wood) that we managed to get through this entire year without one single COVID case affecting our school. There was so much communication and cooperation among our staff and our families. Of course, sacrifices were made, such as quarantining and testing excessively, out of an abundance of caution. However, the community here made that so much easier because of the outpouring of support. Anytime a teacher or family would have to quarantine for an extended period of time, they would receive cards and notes of support, along with care packages filled with love and things to make the time easier. It was truly amazing to experience.

What are the kids’ favorite activities in class?

I would say that the crowd favorites tend to be the messiest ones! The kids love getting dirty and love it even more when the teachers join the fun. The most recent one that stands out in my mind was when the Pre-K class covered the floors with shaving cream and made “designs” in the mess with their feet and entire bodies. I walked in and promptly ended up on the floor covered in shaving cream (photo pictured above). Those are the moments we will remember most!

What are some recent projects that the kids have been working on?

Gallery Night is hands down my favorite Pine Village Preschool event. Seeing their art come to life in such creative ways is truly inspiring. In previous years, all the school walls would be covered in black with the children’s work framed and displayed. We served sparkling cider and cheese, and families would come in (everyone dressed up really fancy) and experience a Gallery opening to rival the best galleries in SOHO! 

This year we had to make some big changes due to COVID. We decided to use our floor to ceiling exterior windows to display the art, since families could not come inside the classrooms, so they could be viewed outside. This turned out to be a magical experience because we were able to share our art with not only our school, but the entire Brighton/Allston community.  (Photos pictured below)

What are you most looking forward to in the coming months at Pine Village?

​I am most looking forward to being able to have community gatherings again, and field trips! I’m also looking forward to our summer program this year. We have so many fun activities planned. There’s a celebratory vibe in the air as well as it also marks one whole year since we re-opened. We survived.. we THRIVED.. and our community is stronger than ever!

Tell us about what’s new in Brighton and coming up!

​Another thing this year has brought us is our new Pine Village Kindergarten Program. Although this has always been something we talked and dreamed about, the pandemic is what actually made this a reality. In order to support our older amigos who had just left Pine Village Preschool and were now facing a year of kindergarten remote learning, we created our Bilingual Beginnings hybrid kindergarten program this year. It was a huge success and it allowed us to really see what a Pine Village kindergarten program could be.

Although, our amigos have all returned (or will be soon) to in person learning, we will continue our full Pine Village Kindergarten Program here at the Brighton location. Our amazing teachers and directors are working on an enriching curriculum that includes kindergarten level skill development, along with the Spanish Immersion and Social Emotional Learning that Pine Village is famous for. 

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