Pine Brook Children’s Center sits at the foot of Mt. Sugarloaf in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Sugarloaf Brook winds through our six acres of woods and meadows, providing a rich and varied natural space for children to explore, experience and learn. Opportunities to climb, sled, run, dig, inspect, and pretend invite creative and vigorous play. The air-conditioned school building was designed specifically for children.
Pine Brook offers a high quality, full-day, year-round preschool and kindergarten. Our nature-based program nurtures each child’s inborn curiosity about the natural and social world s/he inhabits. Through consistent exploration of nature both indoors and out, children develop their sense of self.
Our philosophy is based on the theory that a child learns best when exposed to nature on a consistent basis. Nature provides a constant object in a child’s life that fosters exploration, understanding, sensitivity, and self-esteem.
Our schedule incorporates the outdoors and nature everyday, striking a balance between structured and free play activities, active and quiet times. Playing with others in a natural environment, children learn a healthy respect for physical, social, and personal boundaries.
“What are you playing, and what can I be?” can be heard repeatedly among the kids at Pine Brook. Through consistent discussions at circle time and in their interactions with each other, children learn how to play cooperatively and inclusively, building their capacity for compassion and problem-solving.
Eileen Skribiski-Banack is our Director and Lead Teacher. Eileen has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Elms College. She has 20 years of early education experience. She grew up on her family’s farm in Sunderland and lives in South Deerfield with her husband and two sons.
Donna Sussek is Pine Brook’s owner/administrator and has worked as a preschool teacher for six years. Her backround includes working as both a teacher and a clinician in a variety of settings with children and their familes for over 25 years, specializing in social-emotional group work with children and teens. She earned her LICSW at Columbia University and subsequently practiced social work in school and home based settings. She has lived and worked in the Pioneer Valley for 20 years, and lives in Conway with her 2 daughters.