New owners for facilities in Beacon, Philipstown
By Alison Rooney
Two longtime child care centers, one in Beacon and the other in Philipstown, have new owners.
In Beacon, the Tioronda Learning Center, a nursery school, will open on Sept. 9 under Meredith Hairston, who took ownership after Dina Wood retired. In Philipstown, Denise Giannasca is planning a grand opening for Stepping Stones Childcare and Development, a day care center, on Sept. 3.
Tioronda, located on the lower level of Christ Church, United Methodist on Union Street, began as a co-op for the families employed at Texaco in Glenham, Hairston said. “It was a collective handed from one parent to another.”
Hairston, after moving to the area from Manhattan, where she had worked as a teacher, heard from a friend that the director of “a wonderful little preschool” her daughter was attending planned to retire.
“I’m essentially starting from scratch, but I’m so excited to be able to take over this fab school,” Hairston said. Tioronda offers a morning program with up to 15 children per session, ages 3 to 5.
Hairston said in the past few months she has reorganized the classroom, changed the aesthetics and completed a lot of paperwork.
“I have a holistic view of child development,” she said. “I believe it’s about stories children tell us, about listening, meeting children where they are, going from there. I also feel strongly about having embedded structures, safety rules, and an emphasis on taking care of others.
“I want to create a platform for children to explore and learn at their own pace, with their own cultural differences,” she said. Outdoor fun is also important. “The facility is set in this little nook off Union Street, and there’s a wooded haven beyond it.”
There’ll be music and movement twice a week and food and nutrition. “The Methodist church has a food pantry,” she noted. “I hope to build on that and connections with Fishkill Farms, the Beacon Farmers’ Market and other food advocacy platforms, to do more than only focus on it at holiday time.”
In Philipstown, on Lady Blue Devils Lane off Route 9, the former Serendipity Child Care is now Stepping Stones, with space for up to 42 children.
Giannasca said she had been wanting to open her own day care after working for 10 years for a firm in Wappingers Falls. She was scouting locations when a friend told her that Serendipity was for sale. She said she saw enormous potential.
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She and her partners purchased the building last fall and gutted it. “We put new flooring down, put up crown molding, added new bathrooms,” she said. “We have new furniture, toys and fixtures.” They also replaced the front doors, upgraded security and added new swings and patio furniture.
The director is Michelle O’Meara, who has a degree in early childhood education and 15 years’ experience as a teacher.
The center, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., accepts children from 6 weeks to 5 years old, Giannasca said. There are weekly yoga and visits from Tumblebus, which is a gym inside a bus, “for kids to jump around in. It’s particularly needed in winter!” Snacks are provided, but children bring their own lunches. Stepping Stones also runs summer camps.
Tioronda Learning Center is located at 60 Union St. in Beacon. Call 845-831-9121 or email [email protected] Stepping Stones is located at 25 Lady Blue Devils Lane in Philipstown. Call 845-809-5007 or email [email protected]