The Children's Early Learning Space
We nurture our children with ample free time spent outdoors.

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A partnership of families, educators and community supporting children in their discoveries as they prepare for life’s experiences.  Learn More

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The United States is experiencing a renaissance in early education. This is due to scientific research that has proven the importance of brain development in the first three years and the tremendous need for the support of young families in our times. Learn More

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We appreciate donations which may be monetary or in supplies, and are grateful to those who take the time to come see us and volunteer. Learn More

Lindsay Sullivan - Board President

Lindsay grew up in East Montpelier, but met her husband Trevor, a local Waterbury resident, when they both lived in Massachusetts over 10 years ago. They recently moved back to the area, and are enjoying raising their son, Oliver, in Waterbury Center. Lindsay is an artist and designer. She spends her time volunteering for various organizations around the area, including Camp TaKumTa in South Hero. She loves to bake, practices yoga, and enjoys spending time in her perennial garden.


Scott Wieber - Vice President

Scott grew up in southeastern PA and met his wife Megan in college. After getting married, they moved to VT and have lived in Waterbury Ctr since 2011. They have one child and enjoy snowboarding, mountain biking and spending time with family.

Chelsea Bardot Lewis - Treasurer

Chelsea is a senior philanthropic advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation. Her role includes management of the Foundation’s Vermont Investments. She also serves on the Board of the High Meadows Fund. Chelsea most recently served as business development section chief for the Vt Agency of Agriculture. She lives with her husband, Nate, and her two sons, Jack and William, in Waterbury and enjoys yoga and gardening in her spare time.

Sydnie Rutledge - Secretary

Sydnie was born in Duxbury.  She is a student supervisor at the New School in Montpelier and a former employee at TCELS.  She is taking courses to become a psychologist and work with autistic children.  In her free time, she enjoys being outside with her dogs.


Dr Kalev Freeman - Board Member

Kalev is a professor at the UVM College of Medicine, with an interest in education and child safety. He and his wife, Monique, have lived in Duxbury since 2007. They enjoy hiking, backcountry skiing, music and art. Kalev plays violin and fiddle. His experience in grant writing and fundraising are an asset to TCELS development efforts.


Dr Monique McHenry - Board Member

Monique is an assistant professor at the UVM College of Medicine where she teaches and researches plant based medicine. In her spare time, she can be found paddling, backcountry skiiing, farming and making ceramics. She and her husband, Kalev, have resided in Duxbury for 14 years and are thrilled to have both children attending TCELS.



Rini Mayer - Board Member



Lisa Guerrero - Board Member



the childrens early learning space mission child care waterbury vermont
Our play-based curriculum is built on the Responsive Curriculum and Vermont Early Learning Standards (VELS). Activities address all developmental domains, including cognitive, social, emotional and physical, and are planned in response to children’s needs, interests, and questions about their world. We feel children learn best through play and therefore, we provide opportunities for children to play and explore their environment frequently throughout their daily schedule. Teachers observe and record individual and group behavior and plan activities, projects and themes to support and extend children’s inquiries, the exploration of their environment and their relationships. Teachers plan curriculum in all content and developmental areas, as a flexible framework for teaching, and to support the development of daily plans and learning experiences. The classroom environment is set up to promote independence and the opportunity for discovery and experimentation. Curriculum is developed to be accessible to all children based on the recognition that children differ in their learning styles, home lives, and in the ways that they understand and represent their world.

Company Overview

We provide a special place to for children and families to grow, feel accepted, feel good about themselves and others and develop to their fullest potential. The basis of our program is play, a child’s “work”. Through play in a carefully planned environment, we guide each child’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. A positive self-image and the confidence to handle new situations are important for success in the formal learning process and life. We pledge to provide each child with the time, space, flexibility and stimulation needed to mature at his or her own rate. We support and nurture families in the challenges they experience by providing information, reassurance, and resources as needed.

Winter Weather Policy

If Thatcher Brook Primary School has a delay, TCELS will have the same delay.  If Thatcher Brook is closed, we will have a 90 minute delay with the option of closing. Check WCAX online and phone us for the latest updates.


All programs were set up according to the guidelines of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), yet we are independent of membership. We are a 4STARS rated program (Step Ahead Recognition System of Vermont).
The Children’s Early Learning Space was originally a child care center for the Waterbury plant of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., and became independent in 1999, ten years after it was founded. Known formerly as The Waterbury Children’s Space, the center moved into its current location in the beautiful Old Duxbury School House in 2003. Our 2,500 square foot space has 2 1/12 acres of green, two playgrounds, a wonderful staff and is located off of the Winooski River at the gateway to Camel’s Hump State Park.

Pictured below are historic images of the original Duxbury School House and former students. The Duxbury School served as a town gathering place until the closing of Duxbury's one room school houses in 1950. The school's floating floor accommodated occasional dances and had a rolling partition. The town of Waterbury (we straddle the line) has a population of 5,064 and is a rural Vermont community. Town attractions are the Little River State Park, with its stunning reservoir, and Perry Hill, a favorite spot for mountain bikers and hikers. Waterbury is also known for its excellent elementary school, Thatcher Brook Primary School. Through the Universal Preschool Program, TCELS has served the Washington West Supervisory Supervisory Union since 2002.

We experienced Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011 and suffered the loss of materials in storage, and greater losses due to a shift in tuition revenue from our severely affected community. Due to this overnight change in our culture, we have had to reinvent ourselves, like many businesses in Waterbury, and grow rapidly with the times. We have opened our sights outwards to experience the benefits of the many talented organizations in Vermont that bolster early education or have provided flood relief.

We continue to look forward and offer inspired care and 4STARS (Step Ahead Recognition System of Vermont) early education to our 40 families of Waterbury's youngest population. Our Board of Directors has worked to achieve this goal, reinforcing our current mission and expanding into new initiatives.





Through our greening initiative, we seek to set a standard for our community of sustainability. We've participated in a seed donation program from High Mowing Seeds of Wolcott and have received donated compost from Grow Compost of Vermont. Through our work with Carol Westinghouse at Informed Green Solutions, we are learning how to create an environment at The Children’s Early Learning Space that is healthy and free of toxins. Greening is an important part of Vermont’s state identity as we are leaders in the national sustainable movement. TCELS is proud to be a part of this. Our latest partnership is with Vermont Soap - their unscented foaming hand soap, which is gentle on our children and staff, is the only product like it on the market and reflects our commitment to our children's well-being. TCELS has also been fortunate to receive a grant from the Richard E. and Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation towards making our space more energy efficient. Our partnership with Efficiency Vermont will allow us to receive further mentoring for greening our building, a resource available to everyone in the state.

Staff Development

In order to maintain our 4STARS rating granted by the Step Ahead Recognition System of Vermont, we engage in rigorous staff development each year. We receive guidance from the Building Bright Futures professional preparation and development program and are able to take advantage of many educational opportunities for early educators in Vermont. We're pursuing funding in order for our staff to attend the annual VAEYC conference and will participate in countless workshops and programs throughout the year, many of which are free. As our staff is aware, being a great educator and caregiver is more than being studious and professional - it is also the pursuit of personal well-being. We strive to create a supportive learning environment for our staff, as well as for our beloved children and families. 


Enrichment & Family Programs

An important part of our mission is to offer families support, resources and to connect families to each other and the culture we create at The Children’s Early Learning Space. It is our goal to continue to develop annual events, educational talks for families and the greater community of early education, and provide opportunities for families to enjoy each other and be creative. We are always developing new angles for fundraising, and as Thatcher Brook Primary has demonstrated with their fabulous River of Light Parade, great events can come first and then fundraising/resources will follow. We've had several successful efforts towards this goal made by staff and families this year and will continue to work together on a grassroots level towards expanding our services. We are currently seeking funding for our Mini Sounds Music & Wellness Program, which will allow us to employ a music teacher for weekly visits, to expand on our musical instrument collection, and to host musical events.

Vermont & National Initiatives in Early Education

It is to our benefit that the United States is experiencing a renaissance in early education. This is due to scientific research that has proven the importance of brain development in the first three years of childhood and the tremendous need for the support of young families in our times. Statewide Vermont initiatives Building Bright Futures, Birth to Three, Vermont Early Childhood Alliance, and Lets Grow Kids are making concentrated efforts to ensure that young children and families receive proper early educational support. In May 2014, Governor Shumlin signed the Early Education Bill that grants funding to all 3-4 year old Vermonters for 10 hours of Universal Preschool a week during public school session. This encourages partnerships for all districts of Vermont between child care centers and public preschools. On a national level, the Strengthening Families initiative has been working to establish the support of the Five Protective Factors to prevent child abuse, the building of a medical home and the support of early education with child care grants.

Please see our “Resources” links for further information.

Infant Program
For children 6 weeks through approximately 18 months old.

Toddler Program
For children 18 months through 3 years old.

Preschool Program
For children 3 through 5 years old.

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A partnership of families, educators, and community supporting children in their discoveries as they prepare for life's experiences. 

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