About the Campaign
Please sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/keep-the-hill-institute-kindergarten-program-open/dashboard
The Hill Institute kindergarten program was the first free private kindergarten in the United States and dates back to 1876. It was established as a “private school to serve the public.” Thousands of children from Florence and the surrounding communities have graduated from the program. The Board of Directors have decided to close the kindergarten program, effective immediately, and cite under-enrollment as the ultimate factor.
We, Kate Bouthilette Cardoso and Tara Tetreault Brewster, are alumnae of the Hill Institute kindergarten, class of 1985. We represent three generations of Hill Institute graduates. The kindergarten program at Hill Institute has been a very important part of our lives and is a very important part of the history and culture of the Florence community. More importantly, the Hill Institute kindergarten is a valuable part of the public education system of Florence and the surrounding communities.
We have absolutely no doubt that if more of an effort was made in recruiting students for the kindergarten, it would be full every year. The Hill Institute kindergarten is one of Florence’s best kept secrets, and that’s a shame. To close it without an effort being made to actually spread the word and make sure local families know about this free private kindergarten opportunity isn’t something we’re willing to stand by and watch happen. As our public school system struggles with severe funding shortages and now the very complicating factors of educating children during a global pandemic (when space and class size are critically important to minimizing the spread of infection), it is even more important that the Hill Institute kindergarten stay open.
We are asking the board for an opportunity to help the Hill Institute kindergarten stay open and also become more accessible and inclusive to all kindergarten-age children in Florence/Northampton (and surrounding communities). As community-minded and well-connected Florence residents, we believe that volunteering to be a part of this effort will help make the Hill Institute kindergarten even more successful and continue the wonderful legacy of Mr. Hill. Now isn’t the time to close the kindergarten program, now is the time to make it serve the public better.
Hill Institute kindergarten class of 1985