I have been the teacher and director of the Lincoln Cooperative Preschool since the 1997/1998 school year. Before that, I was a “preschool parent” for four years and was an occasional substitute at the school. My three sons all attended the preschool, with my third having “mommy” as a teacher. I provided childcare in my home for just a few children as a stay-at-home mom for 8 years before starting preschool. I also had a summer camp for my children and their friends for several years in my home. Out of college, and before my own children, I worked in the alternative energy field and was a pumpkin farmer, high school substitute teacher, and certified ophthalmic assistant.
I grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, NY, one of 4 children in the early 1960s in an environment where children were given the freedom to move through the neighborhood all day and expected home for dinner. My days were filled with play at friends’ houses, in the woods between neighborhoods, at the nearby beaches, on bicycles and roller skates all over town, and in large group games on the quiet streets in the evenings. I believe this background is part of why I love seeing the group play that happens for the children from rural towns coming to the preschool.
I came to Vermont because I found a copy of the Sunday New York Times Magazine in my high school cafeteria with an article about the New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod, where they were developing solar and wind energy systems. My guidance counselor found a school in Vermont that offered courses in alternative energy, Goddard College. I spent a year at Goddard and then completed a bachelor's degree at Evergreen State College in Washington State, where I continued alternative energy studies and majored in environmental science. It was a booming field in the early 1980s, which ended when energy tax credits were cut, and oil prices dropped. I returned to Vermont after college and have lived here since 1981. I have attended early education college classes, workshops, and conferences throughout my teaching career. I completed a two-year graduate school program and received an Early Education teaching license for birth to third grade in 2010. If I complete four more classes, I will have a Master's degree.
I am happily re-married and have three sons, one stepdaughter, and two step-grandchildren. I have lived in Lincoln since 1989. My husband and I have been doing renovations together on our house for many years. I enjoy gardening, sailing, biking, skiing, and reading books outside work. I am ambidextrous (using both brain sides) and have always felt my interests split between science and art. I won the senior art award in high school, then did mostly science in college. I have had periods in my life when I create folk art, mostly when I have enough time, and I know that exploring that creative spark is my favorite activity. I am looking forward to getting more into creating as my house project and my years as a teen chauffeur are ending. For now, I get to be creative at my school work, developing ways for young children to thrive. I get great satisfaction from teaching preschoolers and look forward to being with the children every year.
AMBER THOMAS - ASSISTANT TEACHER
I was first introduced to the Lincoln Co-operative Preschool in 2013 when my oldest daughter attended. After she graduated to “The Big School” across the street, my youngest daughter started at the Preschool in 2015, and I started teaching part-time in the afternoons. I continued in that position until 2019 when I moved into the full-time Assistant Teacher position. Prior to that, I had held a variety of different teaching positions including teaching K-6 Outdoor Education, teaching Mathematics and Tutoring reading at a private residential high school for kids with learning disabilities, teaching Early Ed in multiple center-based programs, and teaching Art workshops through ELP's after school and summer programs in the five town area.
I completed my undergraduate work at UVM, majoring in Studio Art, and attended Johnson State College for my Master's degree in Education. I have my VT teaching license with an endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education as well as an endorsement in PreK/Elementary Art. I live in Lincoln with my husband, our two beautiful daughters, and our dog and cat. In the summer we like to spend time at our camp on Lake Dunmore, and in the winter you can find us skiing and playing in the snow! I am grateful to be able to live, work, and raise our family in the beautiful town of Lincoln, and honored to spend my days with the kids and families of our wonderful community at the Lincoln Co-operative Preschool.
CHRISTINE BIRONG - ASSISTANT TEACHER
In high school, I knew I wanted to be a preschool teacher. I took child development classes as electives, shadowed preschool programs, and looked at colleges with early education programs. Although I knew I wanted to pursue teaching preschool, my life went in another direction. Born and raised in Vermont, I headed west to the University of Montana, where I majored in Native American Studies and received minors in Sociology and History. I continued my studies at the University of Arizona, earning my Master's in American Indian Law and Policy. I am humbled to have spent my time out west working with and on behalf of Indigenous Peoples in non-profit and academic capacities. Although the desert was enchanting and the work important, I was called to return home, where life came full circle, and I found myself drawn back to pursue early childhood education. I returned to school and earned my Master's in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education (ECE) from Goddard College and hold a Vermont state teaching license for Birth through Pre-Kindergarten.
Throughout my ECE career, I have been dedicated to and fascinated by the relationships between children and their surroundings. This includes their relationships with each other, their teachers, their physical environment, and learning materials. This intrigue continued to form my teaching style and fueled my professional development pursuits.
I live in Lincoln with my loving husband and three lively children.