Hastings Nursery School, familiarly known as “the Co-op,” has always been run by parents, with heavy input from the Directors, and has always involved parents both in and out of the classroom. We now have more than 40 students and four classes that span three age groups.

The Co-op was started in 1968 by a small group of local parents holding classes at Hastings’ Grace Church. 

The school was incorporated in 1972 as an educational, nonprofit, non-sectarian parent cooperative. It is chartered by the New York State Department of Education and is governed according to a set of bylaws that outline the conditions for membership, the responsibilities of the staff, the make-up and operation of the parent board, and other matters related to the school’s operation. 

Hastings Nursery School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational or admissions policies, scholarship or loan opportunities, or other school-administered programs.

Our Philosophy

Hastings Nursery School seeks to promote the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of young children. Its staff and board believe that the real work of a preschooler is play and exploration. Consequently, the school offers a rich environment of activities each day that allows children to develop social and emotional skills, fine and gross motor skills, a sense of the world around them, creativity, the ability to listen to others and to express themselves. These activities, including special arts and crafts projects, focus on the process rather than the finished project. 

Activities such as molding clay between fingers, exploring weight and balance with wood blocks, investigating color and line while painting, and creating and acting out stories with costumes and props are all important learning activities for preschoolers.

The nursery school’s staff and board believe that young children are natural learners. The school provides a rich and comfortable environment where children can interact with a professional and caring staff and can seek out enjoyable opportunities for learning.

For Your Child

Co-directors Cindy Nibur and Irene Wemer share almost 40 years of teaching experience; and Irene, the Educational Director, holds dual Master’s degrees in childhood and special education. Our staff consists of highly-experienced teachers and assistants, with the additional presence of a parent on site most days. The adult-child ratio in the two’s classes is 1-to-5; in the three’s it is either 1-to-4 or 1-to-5, depending on the room; in the four’s it is 1-to-8.

Every child is a unique blend of physical, social, emotional and intellectual abilities. With that in mind, we strive to make school a place where everyone can feel respected and encouraged. Our first goal is to get to know the children individually, so that we can then help them to build a healthy self-image within a framework of respect for others. Children are supported in finding positive ways to communicate their needs and ideas. Artwork, family photos and other personal materials are on display throughout the year, reinforcing the diverse personalities of our students as well each person’s importance to the group.

We encourage children to understand and accept each other, to work together and build friendships. The classrooms are lively, productive spaces that provide opportunities to participate in both small and large groups. Cooperative activities are a part of each school day, not only when making art projects or sitting together at circle-time, but also when putting away toys or washing up before snack. Pretend play, such as dress-up and housekeeping, enable children to explore family and community roles. Holiday celebrations and other collective events foster a sense of the school as a whole.

Children have an innate desire to learn, and our program offers them a variety of challenging activities. Our curriculum emphasizes phonemic awareness, social competence and conflict resolution skills. Learning units range from the seasons, colors and emotions, to plant and ocean life, the human body, recycling and modern art. Building, counting games and puzzles develop problem-solving and social skills. Process-oriented art projects, hands-on cooking sessions, and lots of sand and water play all expand sensory experience and fine motor development. We also maintain a spacious, private playground, where the children go out each day except in inclement weather. 

Our enrichment program is designed to help children expand their knowledge of themselves and the world. A professionally trained music teacher brings out their natural love for music through song, movement, finger play and the use of instruments. An animal naturalist leads hands-on demonstrations for children to learn about live animals and their habitats. Community professionals such as dentists, helicopter rescue pilots and firefighters visit the classrooms and share their expertise. We make a number of field trips to explore our community, from a local pumpkin farm and bakery, to the Neuberger Museum and Carnegie Hall. Our program also introduces an appreciation for multi-cultural experiences by celebrating a spectrum of world holidays.

For Parents

The participation of parents is essential to the quality of our program, as well as to the sense of community that our children enjoy. As part of a cooperative, the basic requirements are that each family provide snack and supervision approximately four mornings a year; serve on a committee (such as Enrichment, Publicity or Special Events); participate in one maintenance workshop; and fill a post at the spring fair. Board positions are available for those seeking more involvement, as well as less formal occasions during the school year.

Parents and teachers enjoy an ongoing dialog with each other, and there is always easy access to co-directors Cindy Nibur and Irene Wemer. In addition to two scheduled conferences, there are opportunities for further discussion either informally or by appointment. You are encouraged to ask questions about your child’s day at school, and will receive many spontaneous updates at drop-off and pick-up times. Field trips and class celebrations take place with parental participation. Moreover, our parent-of-the-day program ensures that you can learn about your child’s classroom experience first-hand on the days that you bring in school snack.

Nursery school isn’t just for children. It’s also a place for parents to share experiences and ideas with other parents, and form lasting relationships. We sponsor talks with professionals on child development and related subjects, provide an informative bulletin board, and circulate a regular newsletter. Potluck dinners, an annual auction and other social occasions provide more ways for parents to get to know each other. By the time we reach the end-of year party and four’s graduation, it is our hope that the Co-op has come to feel like a second home for everyone.

Parent Testimonials

"I am a Co-op parent of almost 3 years. It's been wonderful, fun and rewarding. When we first joined the Co-op family, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how caring and supportive everyone was, both the staff and the parent community. My son Luca could not be in a safer, more loving and nurturing environment. The Co-op has become his home away from home. 

He has made long lasting friends who he will continue to grow with for years to come (and so have I).
I remember visiting the school some months before we enrolled Luca. As soon as I walked into the school, I felt an immediate sense of warmth. Co-directors (and also head teachers), Cindy and Irene were my first Co-op experience. They made me feel so comfortable and at home. I would soon find out that they are the most helpful and kind people who genuinely care and love the school and all the children in it.
Cindy and Irene set the tone for the school and the rest of the staff and parents follow it. Respect and Validation; they give the children the freedom to express themselves and make sure that their voices are heard. Children are made to feel that their "work" is important and respected. Their feelings and emotions are always validated. Our teachers are the most important aspect of the school. Their dedication to our children and their enthusiasm to work with them continue to amaze me. Our motto here is "play is child's work". And indeed both teachers and children work very hard every day. The teachers are the reason why we have the happiest children in the world at the Co-op.

The Co-op is unique to any other nursery schools in the area because the parents are directly involved in the workings of the school. This not only keeps the school running and thriving, but it creates a sense of community. Working together often becomes quite social and fun. By working together, not only are we forming special bonds and friendships, but we're also showing our children that big jobs can be done when we all chip in. It's so rewarding! Quite often, working for our children doesn't even seem like work.
I feel proud to be a Co-op parent and feel so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful community. It's truly been a gift for me and my family." --Amy Rowley (co-chair 2011-12)

"Being new to the school, I was very happy to meet other incoming families during the orientation and leave feeling comfortable enough to schedule a playdate for my son. Now in his second year at the co-op, I see how his teachers and classmates have nurtured his social and academic preparation for Kindergarten.  He is happy going to school and I feel very fortunate that the experience and warmth of the staff complement the overall collaborative philosophy of the Co-op.  The Co-op is an ideal fit for our family and we look forward to enrolling our infant son once he is eligible for the 2s program." --Sylvia Robles, 2012


"We had just moved to Hastings when a friend told me about the coop. It has been a wonderful, loving place for our son, a new community for all of us, and a group of friends I am sure we will have forever. What a wonderful place to land!" Kit Demirdelen, 2012


"The Hastings Co-Op is a very special environment. The love, care, attention and dedication to the children is felt the minute you walk in--on behalf of not just the teachers, but also the parents, which is what makes the Co-Op stand apart. But the true testament is how my daughter has taken to the school. She just completed the first half of her first year and I had no idea she would love it this much. It's all she talks about. The Co-Op's dedication to both emotional growth and physical activity is the perfect balance. She's truly blossomed. It's great to get a peek so early on at the person she is going to be."--Lynne Schur, 2012


Dear Cindy and Jean,

Thank you for the wonderful and immeasurable roles you and the Co-op have played in our lives this year. 

We have been excited to send Isabel to the Co-op since shortly after we moved to Hastings almost two years ago. We knew it was the right place for her--that she would be in great hands and have a great time. But our experience this year has been so much more than we ever expected.

We knew we would be happy here, and maybe make new friends. We didn't realize that the playground and the rooms of the Co-op would begin to feel like home, and that the children and adults we saw each day would begin to feel like family. 

We knew we'd see new sides of Isabel during her first year of preschool. We didn't realize just how illuminating it would be, that we would be guided to crack the code on our incredible and mysterious girl.

We knew her first year at the Co-op would have a great influence on Isabel. We didn't realize that what we would learn about her would stand to have a profoundly positive impact on the rest of her life.

We knew we would learn a lot ourselves as well, like how to be less uptight with Isabel, to let her get messy, wet and dirty, to relax and embrace her desires to be wild and free. We didn't realize we would become fundamentally better parents.

We knew she would be respected, encouraged, enjoyed. We didn't realize she would be truly loved.

We thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts, for the joy, the excitement, the precious memories, and for doing more for our child and our family than we ever thought possible.


Kim and Thomas Meisner, 2009