KINGSTON TWP. — Just behind the building that houses the Trucksville Early Childhood Education Center there’s a new, young dogwood tree. Its buds were closed Saturday morning. But by the middle of the afternoon, they’d started to open.
The tree reflects the woman in whose honor it was planted. Sharon Cosgrove started her career at the then-Trucksville Nursery School in 1991 and three years later, took on the job of director of the school. And it was there that she led the staff in giving roots to the youngsters in their care, helping them to bloom.
Former and current members from the school, friends and Sharon Cosgrove’s husband, Joe, and daughter, Shannon, were on hand to join the Rev. Dick Williams, pastor of the Trucksville United Methodist Church, to dedicate the tree in memory of Cosgrove, who died in 2015.
“Sharon was a real leader,” said Marjorie Adams, the school’s current director. “She was very progressive, bringing our curriculum into something we can be proud of. The children here get a lot of hands-on, experiential learning and we give them opportunities to problem-solve. And that all started with Sharon.”
The dedication itself started with hugs between friends and long-time acquaintances and ended with a prayer for remembrance and hope from Williams.
“This is so appropriate,” said Linda Weisenberger, who was director of the school in the early ’90s and who hired Cosgrove as a teacher. “She loved nature, she always tried to find things in nature to involve the children.”
One particular feature was the school’s butterfly garden, still going on today, where the students watch the butterflies develop from cocoons and then release the newly-hatched monarchs to their 2,000-mile trek to spend the winter in Mexico.
And, as well as being a guiding force in the school itself, Cosgrove was on the committee that raised funds to build the education wing of the building that houses the school and played a large part in its design.
“She just loved this school. And the people here, the teachers and staff and especially the children,” said Joe Cosgrove. Although the dogwood was a coincidental choice for a tree to be dedicated to his late wife, it was almost “meant to be,” because the first tree the couple planted at their home was also a dogwood.
The dedication went on in conjunction with another tradition at the school that makes memories. Inside the building all afternoon, families had fun at the school’s annual ice cream social. Youngsters started with the school’s art exhibit, a montage of works ranging from drawings to little sculptures. One table featured a set of bridges and structures made from toothpicks and mini-marshmallows. Another had photos of the kids in rocket ships.
“That’s mine up there,” said Jack W., from the Back Mountain, whose parents didn’t want his last name in print. He pointed to a green abstract dinosaur that came pretty closer to its label of “triceratops.”
“I like the T-Rex best, but I can’t make one,” he said. “So I did a triceratops.”
His fellow kindergartener, Henry, from Falls, had five pictures in the exhibit, including a rabbit and a leprechaun.
“I want to be an artist,” the 6-year-old said. “My aunt Cindy is an artist, and she inspires me.” Yes, he used the word “inspire.”
After showing off the artworks, the kids could lead moms, dads, grandparents and assorted siblings off to get bowls of ice cream – vanilla, chocolate or even both – and then take them to the “party room” for the assorted toppings – whipped cream, banana slices, candies and sprinkles. That’s where the adults could catch up with each other and the youngsters could sit together and have fun.
Some of the teachers were on hand as well, greeting their young charges and catching up with parents.
There was also a much-visited room where a pair of middle-school girls practiced the art of face-painting, so almost all of the kids sported a flower or a rainbow or even a superhero symbol on one cheek during the afternoon.
And, just so no one would get bored, magician Bill Dickson astonished both kids and adults with some fun magic tricks. It didn’t hurt that his lovely and talented assistants came from the audience of 4- and 5-year-olds, several of whom had their first experience in show biz that afternoon.
“It’s really a fun place with lots of learning,” said Cindy Higgins, who teaches 3-year-olds at the school. “We guide them, we teach them, we can see their creativity and their eagerness. And, where else could I get paid and get benefits with smiles and hugs?”
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