A Look Back ~ Jean McCaffrey, Founder of St. Paul’s Weekday Nursery School

August 22, 2020


Editor’s Note: Pauline Leone, the new director of St. Paul’s Weekday Nursery School, found a box marked “History photos” with information about Jean McCaffrey, the school’s founder, and her introduction to the Nursery School Cookbook, published in 1999.

Jean McCaffery, founder of St. Paul’s Weekday Nursery School

Jean McCaffrey was a graduate of the Eliot-Pearson Children’s Center at Tufts University. Sixty-one years ago, it all started out as a mother’s church playgroup and grew into a school.  She opened the school with two other teachers, three mornings a week. In the beginning, the classrooms had no furniture or supplies at all. With very limited funding she had to be very creative and with help she used a few old doors as tables and slowly added affordable chairs.

The three creative teachers made playdough for the children who loved mixing in the colors. Click this link to read Mrs. McCaffrey’s introduction to the 1999 edition of the Nursery School Cookbook, along with its playdough recipe.

They created math and science projects and when cookie cutters and other shaped accessories were added, the children’s imagination flourished. There were conversations about food, cooking and they laughed about whether a teacher would eat this blue pancake.  The first book in the school library was Good Night Moon, which is still a childhood favorite. Since its start, our library has continued to grow and takes up five bookcases.

Mrs. McCaffrey’s vision for a safe place for children to play, socialize and learn was, and still is, a gift to the Bedford community and to the other communities that have found a place for their child to be just that, a child.

Mrs. McCaffery has passed on and her husband transferred ownership to St. Paul’s Church which has continued to open our doors to families for 61 years. I cannot fathom that Mrs. McCaffery would have ever imagined her Nursery School would be opening its doors under the Coronavirus guideline that we face this year.

After I read the many clipped newspaper articles that had been saved and looked at the many pictures from the beginning, it was obvious that Mrs. McCaffery’s wish was that her school would continue for years to come and stay true to her vision. I thank whoever saved these important documents so that I could learn and respect the vision St, Paul’s WNS was founded on.

As our school opens this September under EEC and CDC regulations, we will also be opening our doors to children who, like the hundreds of children before them, will create wonderful memories of having attended St. Paul’s WNS.

Thank you Mrs. Jean McCaffery for your vision of St. Paul’s WNS, your shared memories, and reminding us how important it is for all children to have a place to go to be young and free to play.

To learn about St. Paul’s Weekday Nursery School today, visit www.stpaulsweekdayns.org

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