Our Business Spotlight this issue of the Juniper Berry shines on the Learning Tree Pre-School in Middle Village right across from Juniper Valley Park.

The owner/director is Abe Shampaner and the School has been at its current location since 1972. Bob Holden and I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Shampaner recently and it was an enlightening conversation. We talked a lot about the current economy and the political ramifications inherent in the federal government’s stimulus programs. Abe told us how tough it is, at the local level, to run a business in NYC these days with increased taxes and the bureaucracy of governmental layers derailing the small business owner at every turn. He did say however that the bottom line is that, left to one’s own instincts and talents, sanity can prevail and a business can thrive despite the roadblocks.

Now let’s talk about The Learning Tree, which is a pre-school, and is licensed by the Department of Health of the City of New York. The classrooms are staffed with licensed teachers who are aided by various assistants.

I can remember when the concept of a nursery school first emerged on the Middle Village scene back in the early 1970’s and everyone was concerned about how a school right across from Juniper Valley Park would impact the very residential neighborhood. Well we needn’t have worried because the Learning Tree quickly became one of the neighbors with no complaints from the locals.

Abe Shampaner, the owner/director of the School took Bob Holden and me on a tour of the classes that were in session. We were amazed to see how orderly everything could be despite the fact that there are 2, 3 and 4 year old children involved! They were all having lunch and when we entered their classrooms they looked up, gave us the sweeping eye once-over and very quickly went on with their lunch! I could see why a working parent would feel very comfortable leaving their precious children in such a nice, friendly and organized environment that seemed to agree with everyone, even the teachers.

The teachers are under the direction of the full time educational director and they are trained in early childhood and elementary education. The hope is that this will stimulate the learning process and provide confidence in each child, increasing his/her self-esteem and self-direction.

Each age group has certain milestones that the School hopes to achieve for the stated grade level. The following are the age groups of children enrolled in the Learning Tree:

Nursery Curriculum for 2-3 year olds
Pre-Kindergarten Curriculum for 3-4 year olds
Universal Pre-K Performance Standards

The goal of the School is to develop good socialization skills through positive reinforcement and to encourage skills such as sharing and cooperation. In that process the children are encouraged to develop a sense of independence and responsibility and probably most importantly, to enjoy coming to school.

The School totally recognizes that there are separation anxieties with the children and it encourages the parents to talk about school prior to that sometimes dreaded “first day.”

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t remember that scary “first day” at school when Mom or Dad left you and, before they closed the door on the way out, they were history, you already picked your best friend “for life!” That was the beginning of many separations to come, grooming us for the challenges ahead. The Learning Tree seems to have mastered that task very skillfully, with youngsters who seem very much at ease in their care.

At times there may be discipline problems with the children. The School’s stated discipline approach is to use positive reinforcement to promote pro-social behavior. When all else has failed the child will have a “time-out” for 2-3 minutes and the teacher will make an effort to see why the inappropriate behavior occurred. The teacher will help the child pick more appropriate behaviors to express themselves.

There is much more to know about the Learning Tree and when you register your child, their professional staff can answer questions about their various programs. At the end of the discussion a parent can decide if the Learning Tree is the school for their child. Since the cost for their services seems to vary, again, we recommend that you talk to the staff to see what works for you.

Bake Sale for the Community

I should state at this point that the reason Bob Holden and I were at the Learning Tree was for a very rewarding occasion. During the summer of 2009 the School had its Annual Bake Sale and normally the monies collected go to a qualified charity. This year, Abe Shampaner and his group collected a whopping $600. At that point Abe called the Juniper Park Civic Association to state that he is aware of the good work the JPCA does in the community, working to achieve harmony with businesses and residents alike, and, with that thought in mind, the Learning Tree decided to donate the $600 to the JPCA! What a great idea!

Our President, Bob Holden, very happily accepted the check. He told Abe Shampaner that the JPCA would put the money to good use in the community.

Let us again take this opportunity to thank the Learning Tree and its owner/director, Abe Shampaner, for their generous contribution to the JPCA. What a thoughtful guy and what a wonderful business to have in our beautiful Middle Village!

This article is a snapshot of the Learning Tree. There is so much more to know about the School. For more information we encourage parents to call the school where they can find information very quickly by talking to its Director, Abe Shampaner.

We wish the Learning Tree continued success as we all go forward with the same goal, the preservation of our great neighborhood of Middle Village where we have an environment of harmony and success that rewards residents and encourages the business talents of local entrepreneurs such as Abe Shampaner. We hope also that the Learning Tree has many more successful Bake Sales where other neighborhood good guys can share in the rewards!