The long vacant retail space that used to be Harvest Co-op is now occupied by Pine Village Preschool.
Pine Village Preschool signed a lease for the current location at 57 South St. in the fall of 2015 and opened at the beginning of 2017 after a complete rebuild of the property. The preschool is part of a larger group of Pine Village Preschools around the city, and this particular branch of it used to occupy space in First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain on Centre Street.
Joana Araujo, director of the school, said that the school was originally born from an overwhelming demand at the Pine Village other location in JP on Revere Street. The second JP branch opened in First Baptist Church (FBC) in 2013.
“We grew to our capacity at the FBC quite quickly and while sharing space with FBC was cooperative, we felt that it was time for our preschoolers to have their own space and classrooms,” Araujo said.
Araujo said the school did not face any hurdles in zoning, since the use is approved according to current zoning.
Part of the school’s mission is to create a “culturally diverse and bilingual community.”
“Our values of love, laughter, learning, and language are the cornerstones of what we have created here in JP and at all of our schools,” said Araujo. “The Pine Village location is filled with local families and children. We have 13 incredible teachers who bring their talents and love for children with them every day.”
The school offers a Spanish language immersion program in which the children are exposed to spontaneous language repeatedly throughout the day with the aim that the children become more familiar and comfortable hearing, understanding, and responding in Spanish.
“Knowing two or more languages truly gives children many advantages in life,” Araujo said. “Bilingual children have the advantage of knowing two cultures, of being able to communicate with a wider variety of people, and of possible economic advantages in their future.”
Pine Village Preschool is currently enrolled to 90 percent of their capacity, or about 70 families.
Araujo said the school has enjoyed a warm welcome from the neighboring businesses.
Araujo has worked at Pine Village for five years as a toddler and pre-k teacher, and has been the school director for three years. She was born in the Azores and moved to the United States when she was 12 years old, then received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish.
“[Pine Village] is a great company and the people that work in it are wonderful, supportive, and loveable,” Araujo said. “The families here in Jamaica Plain are wonderful and very engaged with their children’s education. It is a pleasure working with such great community.”