I would like to express extreme gratitude to everyone who participated in preparing Leddy Preschool to receive our students.

On March 2, Leddy Preschool sustained significant damage to the front interior of the school due to the strong winds and driving rain that encased our area. This fact is well known. What is NOT known is the story of the army of volunteers who worked day and night to turn a floor of the old courthouse at Taunton Alternative High School into a place for preschool students to enjoy and flourish while continuing their education. 

That evening many city workers braved the storm and arrived at Leddy to remove all items from classrooms to prevent further loss. Mayor Hoye, Assistant Superintendent John Cabral, and several city officials visited Leddy that evening. By 11:15 am Saturday morning, Taunton’s risk manager Sue B. was at Leddy with insurance representatives, Mr. John Cabral, Mr. Chris Baratta, Director of Transportation and Student Services and others. We then received the news that students could not attend class at Leddy due to the significant damage.

An army of volunteers was immobilized to prepare the new site. Without all who assisted and left their own families to prepare the temporary Leddy Preschool site, the students would not have returned to school on Wednesday. My purpose in writing this editorial is to recognize the people of Taunton who indeed put in a Herculean effort this week so our students missed as little education as possible.

Our superintendent, Dr. Julie Hackett was and has always been Leddy Preschool’s biggest cheerleader. Dr. Hackett supported all decisions and made this move possible. To Dr. Hackett, the staff and students of Leddy Preschool will always be so grateful. Thank you for everything you have done for our students and staff.

Our School Committee members have supported Leddy Preschool for many years and offered assistance at a time when our staff needed support. Thank you for your presence during this difficult time.

Mayor Hoye, Mr. Cabral and Mr. Baratta, your efforts on behalf of our students amount to nothing short of incredible. Thank you for the time it took to accomplish this move while completing all your other duties.

Chief Walsh and officers of the Taunton Police Department, thank you for your support. Thank you for your presence during this move and most importantly, thank you for your coordinated efforts with our school department and Dr. Hackett in securing a School Resource Officer for Leddy Preschool while at our temporary site. Officer David D’Oliveira has already made his presence known and is endearing himself to our students and staff.

When we recognized that we would need some assistance in completing this monumental undertaking, a call was made to Bristol County Sheriff Hodgson requesting assistance. Sheriff Hodgson immediately asked what we needed to complete this move and sent Captain Johnson and Officers Cousin and Almeida with volunteer work crews who worked double shifts for several days to assist us. Never could we have completed this move without their help. These men gave many hours of time and we are so very grateful. 

The city of Taunton has many remarkable employees. Among these are the city workers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, retired employees, and numerous others who mobilized and completed work in record time to prepare our new site to receive our students. Their work was impeccable and the hours of work were monumental. Thank you Bobby, Hank, John, Timmy, Victor, Donnie, Ron, Manny, Steve, Keith, Gary, Billy, Seth, and Dave. I hope I captured everyone who assisted.

To Principal Delaney who offered to share his school building with our entire preschool population, thank you for accommodating our young students in your school. Several of your teachers along with curriculum coordinators and other TPS staff relinquished their offices willingly to help our students. We are so grateful for our new “Leddy site” and enjoy your visits to our recess times. You ride a slide with grace! To other TPS principals, Mrs. G, Mrs. H, Mrs. J, Mr. K, and Mr. M who either called or offered support and staff when it was much needed, I could not ask to work with a better team. You are all truly a blessing to me. Thank you!

Taunton Public Schools, under the direction of Superintendent Hackett is parallel to none. There are so many staff members who appeared and assisted in our move. Moving a school in 72 hours is unprecedented. The floor we now occupy did not have needed internet access nor a phone system to allow us to complete all necessary work or communicate with each other. Brenda M. and the IT Department of the TPS and others worked many hours to secure service and make it possible for the Leddy staff to function, all within 24 hours. They worked far into the night to accomplish this task. Thank you for all your help.

TPS are most fortunate to have two individuals who Taunton principals would agree we could never do without. Both Peter F. and Nick D. divided responsibilities and coordinated efforts at both locations so this move could go as smoothly as possible. Both men gave numerous hours to assist in this effort, showing that our students were primary in their minds. How grateful I am to these two school employees for their efforts this week. Thank you! In addition, both schools have custodians who worked so well together keeping in mind the students at Leddy Preschool. We are very grateful to both Paul C. (Mr. Paul) and Richard D. for their coordinated efforts.

Assisting us at every juncture was the ADA Compliance Officer for the city of Taunton. Knowing we were placing children who require assistance at times, Donna D. gave suggestions and support at a time when it was most needed. Thank you!

Both TPS Food Services and Bloom Bus Co. did not miss a beat in providing the same quality services for our students they have always provided. One phone call and Leddy Preschool had meals delivered and transportation provided in record time. Thank you Karen P. and Matt B. for all you do.

Moving such a large staff to a location in the city could have proven to be a parking nightmare. Both Walgreens and Mu Han Martial Arts have been so generous in providing the Leddy staff and parents with parking at their establishments. Thank you for providing us with much needed parking near TAHS.

Leddy Preschool has incredible parent volunteers and once it was known that we needed to relocate to our present site, we received many emails of support and encouragement. Many parents arrived at school once we opened and offered their assistance with classroom help, recess support, and many other duties that were so needed. Thank you parents for your care and presence!

Many other agencies, schools, and local pediatricians called or sent emails of support and offered help whenever needed. Acknowledgement goes to Northwoods Pediatrics (Dr. Elizabeth McQuaid) Early Intervention Program, Triumph Head Start, Bridgewater State University, Bristol Plymouth High School’s childcare staff, and Mary W (retired ELL Director). Suffice it to say, they all recognized our need and realized,“it takes a village to raise a child”. They all are part of our village.

To the Taunton Gazette staff, who boosted our spirits keeping our story alive, thank you for all the positive press we have received this week. Leddy Preschool has always been fortunate that stories about our school are highlighted often. We appreciate all of you more than you realize.

Lastly, one can never fail to recognize an exceptional educational staff, all of who constantly go above and beyond on a daily basis for our youngest, most vulnerable students in Taunton. Leddy Preschool staff mobilized into a major force so this move could happen successfully for our preschool students. This was a daunting task as anyone in education can imagine and although it was extremely stressful to move an entire school in 72 hours, they accomplished the unthinkable. Classrooms were designed and decorated and offices were settled prior to the Open House we held at 3:00pm on Tuesday. Many of the Leddy staff were without power in their own homes and arrived at Leddy on Monday morning prepared to make this a successful move!

Taunton Public Schools have incredible staff at every level! This I have witnessed in my six years as a principal in Taunton. Leddy Preschool is a family and our students and parents part of a dynamic team with one goal in mind, the successful education of our young students. To be successful in education requires continual preparation and collaboration. Leddy staff members exhibit this on a daily basis and are the epitome of resiliency and professionalism. I am very grateful and blessed to be a member of this team. Thank you for all you do on behalf of our students!

Nelson Mandela once stated, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children. Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation”. This is the face of Taunton! Taunton leaders proved once again that our children come first and always will!

Dr. Janet Belanger

Principal

Edward F. Leddy Preschool