Thornbury Community Preschool was founded in 1969 by Mrs. Betsy Collier, a pillar in Thornbury Township. Originally located at the Bethlehem United Methodist Church, Thornbury Preschool is the oldest privately held preschool operating in Thornbury Township. In 1992, with the increasing enrollment of children and need for more space, Mrs. Collier relocated the school from the Bethlehem United Methodist Church to Wheatley Cottage on the grounds of Thornbury Township and operated under the name of Thornbury Community Preschool. Mrs. Collier established the school’s core program around the philosophy of “learning through play” and the method of team teaching. She continued operating the school until 1999 when she sold the preschool to Mrs. Harriette Tuttle. For the next 16 years Mrs. Tuttle operated the school under the name of Thornbury Preschool further developing the school program. In the spring of 2015, in preparation for retirement and relocating to a new home out of state, Mrs. Tuttle sold the school to Mrs. Chrissy Kirkland, the school’s director since 2009. Mrs. Kirkland's goals are to develop the program further reflecting current research and trends while also keeping the core philosophy of "learning through play".
HISTORY OF WHEATLEY COTTAGE
Thornbury Preschool is housed in Wheatley Cottage. The building was named after Phillis Wheatley, an American Poet. Ms. Wheatley, a slave who was emancipated, expressed in poetry how she felt about religion, freedom, people, and America. Her collection of poetry became the first published book written by an African-American. In 1915, “The Shelter" which was founded in Philadelphia by Quaker women in 1822 to care for African-American orphans, relocated to the Wheatley Cottage in Cheyney, Pennsylvania. It adjoined the property of Cheyney Training School for Teachers, now Cheyney University. In 1965, it became a home for teenage girls and its name was changed to “Friends Shelter for Girls”. It continued operation until 1981 when it ceased to function as a group home. It was succeeded by the Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children which functioned as an emergency shelter until relocating to West Chester in the early 90s. For a short time after this, an architectural firm was located in the building until 1992, when Mrs. Collier relocated the Thornbury Community Preschool from the Bethlehem United Methodist Church to Wheatley Cottage on the grounds of Thornbury Township where the school has operated ever since.
Director & Teacher
OUR TEACHING STAFF
Mrs. Kristen Murphy
Mrs. Rebecca Snyder
Chrissy Kirkland graduated from Neumann College with a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Prior to working at Thornbury Preschool, Mrs. Kirkland was an aide at Neumann University’s Child Development Center and Carefree Learning Center, a preschool teacher for Chesterbrook Academy, worked as a private tutor for children in grades 1-8, and developed and taught a Math Enrichment program for children in grades 1-6 as an adjunct teacher at Delaware County Community College. When working for Thornbury Preschool as the PreK-4 Readiness teacher from 2005-2006 she obtained her Private Academic Teaching Certificate. From 2006 until 2009, Mrs. Kirkland continued as a substitute teacher for Thornbury Preschool. In the Fall of 2009, once all of her children were in elementary school, Mrs. Kirkland returned to Thornbury Preschool as the Director and began teaching Readiness for both PreK-3 and PreK-4. In the Spring of 2015, Mrs. Kirkland became the third owner of the school. Currently, she teaches Readiness to the PreK-4 Morning Class and serves as an aide for both the PreK-4 Afternoon Class and the PreK-3 Class. All four of Mrs. Kirkland's children attended Thornbury Preschool.
Kristen Murphy is a graduate of West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Murphy taught Kindergarten at Show and Tell Preschool in West Chester and once her children were born she stayed home to take care of both them along with her nephew full-time. She has been a teacher at Thornbury Preschool since 2009 at which time she obtained her Private Academic Teaching Certificate. Over the years, she taught PreK-4 Art and PreK-3 Readiness. Mrs. Murphy currently teaches PreK-3 Readiness and heads up the Scholastic Book Club for the school. Both of Mrs. Murphy's children attended Thornbury Preschool.
Rebecca Snyder is a graduate from the University of Delaware with degrees in both elementary and special education with a discipline in social studies. She has been both a learning support and emotional support teacher and worked in the Brandywine School District in Wilmington, Delaware and the Chester Upland School District in Chester, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Snyder is certified to teach in both Pennsylvania and Delaware and has worked as a substitute teacher for the Chester County Intermediate Unit for 6 years. In 2012 Mrs. Snyder began at Thornbury Preschool as a substitute teacher and worked in that role until 2015, when she became a permanent teacher and obtained her Private Academic Teaching Certificate. She is currently the Art teacher for PreK-3 Class.
Mrs. Erin Lyons
Erin Lyons is a graduate of Wesley College and earned her Master of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Drexel University. Mrs. Lyons taught first and sixth grades at Bayard Elementary School and was a member of both the Articulation and Discipline Committees at the school. In addition, Mrs. Lyons was a first grade teacher at Keene Elementary School in the Christiana School District in Delaware. In 2015 she obtained her Private Academic Teaching Certificate and joined the Thornbury Preschool staff. She is currently the Art teacher for the PreK-4 Morning Class and the Readiness teacher for the PreK-4 Afternoon Class.
Learning Powered By Play
Caitlyn Bixler is a graduate of The College of William and Mary where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Mrs. Bixler worked for seven years at The Vanguard Group. Once she had her second child, she stayed home full time to raise her daughter and two sons and worked part time for an in-home daycare, volunteered often in her children’s schools, served as a Girl Scout Leader, and gave lessons in elementary school for the Chester County chapter of Art Goes to School. She later worked as a Literacy and Math Aide for Downingtown Area School District while attending the Post-Baccalaureate Teaching Certificate Program at West Chester University. She earned her PreK-4 teaching certificate, her Private Academic Teaching Certificate, and joined the Thornbury Preschool staff in the fall of 2019. She is currently the Art teacher for the PreK-4 Afternoon Class.
Judy Bove is a graduate of Goldey Beacom College with an Associates Arts Degree in Legal Secretary Curriculum. She worked as an Administrative Assistant at Weston Solutions Inc. until her children were born. Mrs. Bove then volunteered much of her time in her children's schools over the years and once her children were older, she worked as a teacher's aide at both Goddard School and The Walden School working with 3-5 year olds. Ms. Bove joined the Thornbury Preschool staff in 2019. She is currently a Teacher's Aide for the PreK-4 Morning Class.