Archive for September 17th, 2017


Who Are They? Wintergreen Arts Center – Part 6

September 17, 2017

Under the Willow Tree, a Creative Preschool

This blog post is one of a 6-part series about the Wintergreen Arts Center in Presque Isle.  Wintergreen provides creative experiences that empower the young and young-at-heart to imagine, invent, and innovate. With quality arts education programming for children of all ages, family-friendly signature events, and adult programs, Wintergreen works with several community partners to deliver inspiring opportunities to help individuals bloom and Aroostook County thrive. Dottie Hutchins is Wintergreen’s executive director. You can learn more at

SNOW Sensory Table

On September 6, 2016, Wintergreen launched its creative preschool, Under the Willow Tree. The preschool was born from a very real need in the community—quality programming for preschool aged children. Our roster filled, even overflowed, and we currently have waiting lists for multiple years out. The need for creative choices in early childhood development is great and parent feedback keeps our program moving in the right direction.

Under the Willow Tree is an educational program for children ages three to five years old. It is open to an ideal class size of 14 students and meets Monday through Thursday mornings. The preschool implements a child-centered approach using small-group and hands-on activities to provide students with a diverse learning environment. The program teachers give instruction and guidance to children in ways that foster imagination, creativity, and critical thinking. The creative preschool program uses a variety of teaching tools and resources that engage all the senses and give students the opportunity to learn at their own pace.

Officer Kris and his Junior Wintergreen Officers

Presque Isle Police Officer Kris Beck was the first to visit Under the Willow Tree.

One item on the curriculum engages the students with individual community helpers. From police officers to firefighters, librarians and architects, the children fully embraced the idea of learning more about people who help our community.

“Inviting people like Officer Beck into the classroom is important for early career education and exploration,” said Mrs. Jillian Harris, Wintergreen preschool teacher. “It also introduces children to people who help to make our communities safe and successful.”

Officer Beck talked with the children about his job to protect and serve the community. He also allowed them to sit inside his patrol vehicle and ask questions about his uniform and the equipment he carries to perform his duties throughout the day.

In preparation for Officer Beck’s visit, the children worked all week making their own uniforms out of paper grocery sacks. They painted their uniforms blue and also made badges, hats, and stop signs to carry. The entire class was excited to meet Officer Beck and show off their uniforms.

2017_04_26_Mia Brewer visits PreschoolCommunity helpers who visit with Wintergreen’s preschool students are not always adults. Last April, 10-year-old autism self-advocate Mia Brewer visited Under the Willow Tree where she read a story, played with, and talked to the children.

Mia has autism and she also has a sister with autism whose needs and challenges are very different than her own.

“Mia doesn’t want to be or wish to be different, she likes being Mia,” said Lisa Brewer, Mia’s mother and Wintergreen preschool teacher. “We think our students agree that Mia is perfect just the way she is.”

In June 2017, Wintergreen celebrated their very first graduating class of creative preschoolers from Under the Willow Tree.  These children will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

On September 5, 2017, Co-Teachers Lisa Brewer and Katie Greenlaw welcomed a brand new class and look forward to another year of creative learning and exploration. The relationships and memories these children are making will last a lifetime.

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