Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Founding director Barbara Klein to retire from Huguenot Nursery School after 50-year teaching career

Barbara Klein talks with three of the hundreds of children she’s worked with at Huguenot Nursery School over 32 years.

Barbara Klein has watched hundreds of children walk through the doors of Huguenot Nursery School for 32 years. She’s touched hearts and held out hands. As the founding director, she built the school from two classes with nine staff members to 13 classrooms and 28 people working in the program.

Following a career of more than 50 years in preschool teaching, Klein will retire from Huguenot and full-time work at the end of this school year.

“One of the endearing memories I have about Barbara’s time at Huguenot is the way she welcomed the children at morning drop-off,” said parent Amy Hand. “She always greeted each and every child by name and even some younger siblings, welcoming them into their day with warmth and respect.”

Huguenot started as a half-day program that children attended for three hours. About five years ago, the school decided to get a daycare license and open a full-day program. Klein was instrumental in expanding the school by adding activities such as Pelham Ballet Arts, karate and a multi-sport program.

Huguenot’s child-based philosophy was designed to create freedom and choice for the children. Klein called it “intentional teaching and intentional learning” done in small group activities.

“I think the way we structure our day and the way we allow children opportunities to ask questions without being nervous sets them up to be successful learners and to go off into Kindergarten being really confident about themselves and know that their needs will always be met at school,” she said.

Klein didn’t plan to end up as director of Huguenot, but when the situation presented itself, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I was walking through another preschool where somebody I knew was a director, and a parent walked by and the director said ‘How’s the search going?’ and I asked questions, found out they were looking for a director here and sent my resume,” said Klein.

Huguenot was Klein’s first administrative position after a career working as a preschool teacher. She has commuted from White Plains to Pelham daily for the past 32 years.

“I’ve always worked in preschool in different communities, in Manhattan, Connecticut and Westchester,” said Klein. “And what I have found about Pelham—it’s the only place I’ve worked where I feel there is such a strong sense of community among the families.”

Not only did Klein feel the Pelham community’s impact, the Pelham community felt hers.

Her dedication to our children’s welfare and her responsiveness to our community’s needs have made HNS a facet of our local community.

— Erica Mole Kane

Erica Mole Kane moved to Pelham during the pandemic with a two-year-old daughter and a son on the way. For her, finding a nursery school during that time felt daunting.

“But then we found HNS, and Barbara, our director, was a guiding light,” said Mole Kane. “During my outreach, Barbara was the first to reply and ready with a simple but unique solution, offering a FaceTime tour when in-person visits weren’t feasible. As she walked me through HNS, I felt an immediate sense of trust. Since joining the HNS family in 2021, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Barbara. Her dedication to our children’s welfare and her responsiveness to our community’s needs have made HNS a facet of our local community.”

Klein said she will always be available to help the Huguenot community but is looking forward to taking her first summer off since she was 14. After that break, she hopes to be a sub for preschools in White Plains.

Cristina Rodriguez will be taking over for Klein, and the two are working to together as Klein shows her the ropes.

“I’ve had a great 32 years here,” said Klein. “I did ask my daughter to move to Pelham because I thought it was a great community. Pelham is a really special community.”

 

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Gabby Ahitow, Executive Editor
Gabby Ahitow is a senior at Pelham Memorial High School. She has been with the paper since it first started in 2018. Gabby has written for the Colonial Times, News of Pelham, PMS Post, and The Pel Mel. Besides writing, she plays the violin, soccer, and lacrosse for the high school, and participates in various clubs. She sails competitively outside of school. The Pelham Examiner has taught her so much and she looks forward to growing with the paper.

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  • S

    Sylvia RoweMay 13, 2024 at 8:53 am

    When my Husband Ian and I moved to Pelham during a cold February of 2012, I called Huguenot Nursery School hoping to get our then 2 year-old daughter into any class that would accommodate her. After being in NYC, I expected to be met with resistance trying to join the school mid-year, but instead I was met by Barbara Klein: relaxed, funny, warm, loving, flexible, open, extremely professional and above all else, devoted to our childrens’ development. From the very first day, I was hooked on HNS. In the years since, both our kids went all the way through HNS and I learned so much about parenting from Barbara and her play-based philosophy. I so wanted to support the school’s success that I served in the Board of the school as a means of giving back and over those years, my admiration for Barbara has only grown. She has been such a pillar of the community and she will be sorely missed. Thank you everything Barbara – we love you!

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  • T

    Tara LyonsMay 10, 2024 at 12:22 pm

    Wonderful preschool administrator who was also a doting grandma to her own grandchildren… And our children were the fortunate ones to have her loving presence everyday… She knew every child’s name and greeted them every morning at drop off!

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