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Newton’s Apple-A-Day Preschool, an intergenerational mainstay for 30 years, plans celebration to mark anniversary

It’s a concept that was once unheard of not just in Newton but across the United States. A preschool located within the halls of a senior living community is still uncommon, but when Apple-A-Day Preschool opened its doors in 1992 at Newton Presbyterian Manor, it was the first of its kind. Now, 30 years later, the school’s impact on students, parents, grandparents, teachers, and the community at large cannot be overstated. One individual impacted by the preschool is JoAnn Johnson, Presbyterian Manor resident and preschool volunteer.

“It’s a marvelous opportunity for the preschoolers, and it’s great for the senior citizens to be able to experience the joy of the children,” she said.  “It’s win-win.”

Kristen Burkhart, who served as the first director of the preschool, as well as a teacher, said it’s hard to believe 30 years have passed at such a special place.

“The timing was right, it worked, and the rest is history,” she said, as she reflected on her time at the preschool. “Other preschools in the area had their specialty. Ours was kindergarten prep. That and the intergenerational aspect really set us apart in those early days.”

Burkhart said she’s proud of the fact that the preschool is so well-respected in the community.

“I think that intergenerational component is so unique and important,” she said.

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly put a damper on the normal interactions between preschoolers and senior living residents, but the staff is hopeful the future will be full of those connections.

To celebrate that impact, Apple-A-Day announces three celebration events at the Newton Presbyterian Manor courtyard and preschool playground area on Monday, May 16, at 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.; and Tuesday, May 17, at 10:45 a.m. The celebration will take place in the courtyard but could be moved indoors if weather doesn’t cooperate. The celebrations are coordinated with the three preschool classes’ last day of school.

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