The Mulberry Bush Independent School is a private, not-for-profit early learning center operated by the Brattleboro Retreat. We serve approximately fifty children between the ages of eight weeks to six years. We also offer afterschool programs for young people up to the age of twelve as well as summer programs for children ages 6—12.

We strive to meet all of your child’s needs: physical, emotional, social, and intellectual. We want parents and guardians to feel great about leaving their children in our programs. With this in mind, we have created a safe, positive environment for children that fosters and enhances their growth and learning.

Information About the Mulberry Bush Independent School

Responsive Classroom

Learning opportunities at the Mulberry Bush are based on the use of responsive classroom techniques, outdoor curriculum, and positive behavior supports. We believe in providing children with developmentally appropriate social, emotional, and academic learning opportunities in an intentional learning environment.

We offer an individualized curriculum to enhance each child’s chance to develop the skills necessary for school readiness and to have a lifelong love of learning.

Educational Philosophy

Our philosophy of education is based on the work of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Eric Erickson, which describe the stages of child development and stress that learning takes place through exploration. We provide this exploration by creating an environment that is designed to provide:

  • materials that encourage growth and discussion
  • interactions with well-trained teachers that scaffold children’s learning experiences
  • structured activities and opportunities (e.g., circle times and projects)
  • personal, quality, one-on-one time with children during diapering, dressing and other daily routines.

These and other age-appropriate activities promote cognitive, physical, social and emotional growth and development.

Educational Goals

Our goals are highlighted by the following objectives:

  • Maintain a safe and secure child-oriented environment at all times.
  • Provide a consistent and nurturing environment, which encourages a wide variety of positive personal interactions between peers and with teachers.
  • Promote cooperative relations between parents/guardians, teachers, and the manager to ensure consistency between home and the School.
  • Support parents and guardians in any way that seems appropriate.
  • Assist your child in developing all the skills needed to be successful in kindergarten.
  • Create a balance between group and individual needs, and energetic and quiet activities.
  • Utilize play and exploration as primary mediums for promoting each child's learning experiences.
  • Offer a curriculum that incorporates an individualized, child-centered approach, rich in opportunities to explore and create, through the use of materials that enhance the child's overall learning.
  • Develop lesson plans that cover language development, gross and fine motor skills development, social interaction, music, and art while maintaining a physical environment where children have learning readiness experiences in science, math, and social studies.
  • Help to ensure children feel they are competent learners.
  • Promote positive self-esteem and confidence in each child enabling trust in himself/herself and others.
  • Support children in developing social skills by learning to be helpful and cooperative with peers, learning to express their needs verbally and appropriately, and to share their ideas and beliefs.
  • Use our knowledge of children's brain development, individuality, and overall development to create a supportive learning environment.
Program Options

The Mulberry Bush Independent School has six programming options for your child, each designed to meet your daughter or son’s learning needs and to give parents choices to meet their family’s needs. Our six options are:

  • Infant Toddler Classrooms: We have an infant/young toddler and older toddler (two year olds) classroom.
  • Preschool Classroom: Our preschool classroom consists of children three to young fours.
  • Pre-kindergarten Classroom: Our Pre-K classroom includes children ages 4-6.
  • Preschool and Pre-kindergarten After Care Program: This program runs from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm and follows the Mulberry Bush calendar.
  • School Age After Care Program: This program is designed for Retreat families and Mulberry Bush graduates to provide high-quality after school care for children ages 6 to 12.
  • Preschool and Pre-K Summer Program: We have five two-week sessions that parents can sign their children up for during the summer months. Ages 3—6.
  • School Age Summer Program: We have five two-week sessions that parents can sign their children up for during the summer months. Ages 6—12.
Drop Off and Pick Up

It is important that parents drop off and pick up their children at the times they have requested on their enrollment form and parent contract. Staffing at the center is set up to cover only these hours. If you have any questions please contact Tori Kelliher, manager, Mulberry Bush Independent School, 802-258-4350.

Hours of Operation and Holiday Schedule:

Infant and Toddler Classrooms

The Infant/Toddler classrooms (on the lower level) are open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Parents can sign up for a school year or full year program. We do offer limited before care (7:00 am to 8:00 am) and extended day care (4:30 pm to 5:30 pm) for an additional fee. Early or late care is available if the number of parents requesting such care warrants extending the day. All early and late care needs to be signed up for in advance. Included in this schedule are some holidays (see holiday schedule and our annual school calendar). We close for one early release day a month (12:00 noon) and for longer in-services two times a school year and for one week in the summer to provide our staff with in-service trainings and classroom work time. In your financial packet, you will find additional information concerning late (beyond contract time) pickups. Any late fees will be charged to your monthly tuition.

Preschool and Pre-kindergarten Classrooms

These classrooms follow the WSESU calendar very closely with some exceptions. Please refer to our school calendar. The school day is 8:00 am to 3:30 pm with a 3:30 pm pick up and dismissal in front of the building by the porches. Children will have quick access to their parents’ cars by the front stairs and the ramp. Children will be waiting starting at 3:15 pm for their parents in the pre-kindergarten room with staff members watching for cars. If it’s an early release day, your children will be waiting at 11:45 am in the same location. Please do not use the main entrance when picking up your children on these days. It will disrupt the program in the infant and toddler classrooms and create too much foot traffic through the building. This pickup plan is designed to be safe and quick for all. Some preschool and pre-kindergarten children will be signed up for our aftercare program. These children will be in the preschool room until the 3:30 pm pick up is complete and then will start the aftercare program in the pre-kindergarten classroom. On the 12:00 noon in-service dismissal days there is no aftercare program for any age children. All staff will be involved in the in-service plans for that day.

Preschool and Pre-kindergarten Aftercare Program and the School Age Aftercare Program Hours

These will be outlined in the Mulberry Bush calendar and will align as closely as possible with the WSESU calendar. School age children can be bussed to the commons near the Brattleboro Retreat to attend our program from many local Brattleboro Schools. A Mulberry Bush employee will meet the children at the bus stop and escort them to our program.

Summer Programs for Preschool/Pre-K and School Age Children

Both programs are open from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm with early or late care available if the number of parents requesting such care warrants extending the day. Pre-registration is required for all programs, and contracts will be signed for each program separately.

  • All children should arrive at the school no later than 9:00 am.
  • Children arriving after 9:00 am will be sent home unless there is a planned late arrival. Programming in each classroom will have started by that hour.
Holiday Schedule

The Mulberry Bush Independent School is closed on the following holidays:

  • January--New Year's Day
  • February--President's Day
  • May--Memorial Day, (and the Friday before the Holiday for in-service)
  • July--Independence Day
  • August- one week in-service closing between end of summer program and start of new school year
  • September--Labor Day
  • November--Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after Thanksgiving
  • December--the week of Christmas will consist of three in-service days and two holiday closures.

The School will also be closed for pre-scheduled in-service staff trainings and facility maintenance. Families will be notified well in advance of these dates.