Plum Hill History, as told by our founder, April Thanhauser:
Newly moved to the Vineyard in 1996, I opened a family daycare in my home in West Tisbury. I named the center “Dayspring Children’s Garden” and created a rhythmic pattern of the day, which included much time in nature, especially in a large beech grove and in a little garden where the children loved to dig. The curriculum was centered on storytelling, puppetry and song, arts and cooking and creative play. I gathered toys from natural materials, made puppets and bought hand-crafted dolls and wooden trucks. A group of parents who had been inspired by writings of Rudolph Steiner and teachers in the Waldorf education movement gravitated to the day care and shared their marvelous children with me. In the second year, Dayspring grew to a “Large Family Daycare” with an assistant and 10 children (per Massachusetts regulations) and moved into a renovated carriage house—right by the beech grove. With my assistants, I also started a marionette troupe, “Spindrift Marionettes,” which performed not only for the daycare families, but also at libraries and community festivals.
A second, similarly focused family daycare later opened in the home of Wendy Gray. In 2001, a group of parents from the two daycares joined forces to establish a preschool on the premise of the Feathertsone Center for the Arts, with Wendy Gray as its first teacher. On this campus there was a plum tree growing at the top of the hill. One of the founders' children said, “We should name the school Plum Hill!”
Plum Hill preschool continued for several years at Featherstone, then moved to its location on Road to Great Neck in West Tisbury, where there was even more scope for long walks in the woods and fields, and welcoming farms just down the road. It has been state licensed since its inception. I have remained on board as an advisor and well-wisher, story-teller and occasional substitute teacher. Spindrift Marionettes continues to entertain and inspire children at Plum Hill and in the greater community, bringing along the magic and love of nature which Plum Hill embodies.