The Ralph Waldo Emerson School for Preschoolers, Inc. was established in 1966 to provide high quality, developmentally appropriate, early childhood education for preschool age children in the greater Concord area. The tradition at Emerson School since its inception in 1966 has been one that values family, with children as the heart. Emerson was founded by a small group of parents who wanted to create a quality preschool program for their children. They incorporated, appointed a board of directors, hired staff, and got off and running with their first classes of young children. Judy Cameron, an Emerson parent and a founding board member, became head teacher and director in 1968. She provided strong educational leadership and continuity for the school until the mid 1980’s. After her departure, grappled with the developing a cohesive philosophy. The 1989-1991 Board of Directors was instrumental in constructing the school’s new meaning. The board hired Jeannette Stone, NAEYC author and early childhood consultant, to assist them. One of Stone’s first recommendations was to hire a director. Susan Cooney Hagner was hired in 1990 to lead the school’s transformation. In 1992 Emerson became the eighth program in New Hampshire to earn NAEYC accreditation. Through the collaborative effort of director, teachers, and families the school has developed a dynamic and multicultural curriculum that draws on many of the ideas of emergent curriculum, the project approach, and the Reggio Emilia Approach.
The Emerson School for Preschoolers was guided by the leadership of Susan Hagner from 1990-2016. Susan's ideas and work at Emerson School have been featured in the books, Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood Education (2015), The Unscripted Classroom: Emergent Curriculum in Action (2011) and Emergent Curriculum In Early Childhood Settings (2009) by Sue Stacey and The Passionate Learner (2002) by Robert Fried. Her work was especially inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to early education. Susan developed and implemented improvements for our school, creating a responsive curriculum that values teachers, children, and families. Susan's work was thorough, deep and lasting. Today, evidence of these improvements permeate all realms of the program. The school continues to progress as it gains new understanding from the research and knowledge in the field of early childhood education.