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Why this petition matters

Started by Corey Hartin

To Whom it May Concern,

We are the parents of the students at Cairn Hill Nature Preschool in Lynn. Our letter is in response to an incident at Cairn Hill on October 28, during which a child on a walk with her class, on a nearby wooded trail, became separated from her teachers and classmates, and the charges of neglect which have been laid against the three members of the staff.

These charges jeopardize the continued operation of a unique school in an underserved community, a school that counts at-risk children among its students and is beloved by all who attend and their parents. We petition on behalf of those students and my fellow parents to communicate our unanimous wish that the charges be dropped, and to express our common concern that the potential outcome those charges pose if upheld would be a detriment to the community Cairn Hill serves.

Cairn Hill is the preschool that all children need and deserve. Some of us ourselves are educators who know that early childhood is when children learn how to perceive and interact with the world around them, develop pre-academic skills that will prepare them for kindergarten, and plant the seeds of social skills, problem solving and imagination. We also know that common core standards are only the beginning of what the youngest among us need in order to navigate life as young persons and adults. A sense of place, a feeling of belonging — young children need these things too in order to grow into adults who will care for the world and communities they will one day inherit.

Cairn Hill Nature Preschool fulfills this complex blend of early childhood needs with a combination of its unique philosophy and the people it selects to staff the school. Emphasizing the outdoors and expanding the environment beyond the traditional classroom teaches our children that learning can happen anywhere, and qualified, caring teachers prepare our kids for kindergarten while planting the seeds of respect for others and a lifelong love of learning.

For many of us, the unique outdoor component that CHNP offers was a deciding factor in our choosing to send our children to the school. Now, as Massachusetts and the rest of the world continue to battle a deadly pandemic, the benefits of outdoor education have been multiplied. As we all try to adapt to a world changed by COVID-19, we as parents consider ourselves fortunate to have chosen a school environment that incorporates the latest scientific evidence into the care of our children, including the opportunity to socialize outdoors and the option for weekly COVID testing provided by Cairn Hill.

Cairn Hill is also the preschool that Lynn and other underserved communities need and deserve. Some of us are state and local government employees who know that the benefits for children described above are harder to realize in a community where resources are spread thin. At Cairn Hill, a school that has attracted the patronage of surrounding communities like Salem and Swampscott, all of our children thrive, including at-risk children who in a Lynn public preschool might otherwise fall through the cracks.

Those of us who work for our state and local governments also know that, in cases like these, employees and officials are subject to the constraints of their mandates. To the extent that the relevant departments have discretion in these matters, we fervently request that it be exercised in defense of the charged teachers.

We as parents, including the parents of the child affected by the incident in question, are satisfied that the teachers responded to the situation with strict adherence to the processes for a missing child that we agreed to when we enrolled our children and that the state has approved every two years when licensing CHNP.

We as residents of Lynn and the surrounding communities are all in agreement that actions that result in closing the school, even temporarily, have affected and will continue to affect our kids adversely.

We truly hope to get these incredible teachers back into the classroom where they belong and that at the very least, the EEC can grant Evelyne, James, and Sabrina "provisional" status - allowing restoration to our kids' lives, that they desperately need as soon as possible.

Sincerely yours,

The Parents of Cairn Hill Nature Preschool

23 have signed. Let’s get to 25!