October 9, 2019

University League Nursery School To Close in June After 70 Years

“ENTHUSIASM FOR LEARNING”: University League Nursery School has served the families of the Princeton area and Princeton University over the past 70 years, but will be closing at the end of the 2019-2020 school year because of low enrollment and the changing needs of the community. (Photo courtesy of University League Nursery School)

By Donald Gilpin

University League Nursery School (ULNS), one of the area’s oldest preschools, having served the families of the Princeton area and Princeton University for 70 years, announced last week that it will be closing at the end of 2019-2020 school year.

The board of trustees of ULNS, a nonprofit, non-sectarian, cooperative preschool, voted not to offer classes after the current school year because of “the changing needs of the community and the insurmountable financial consequences due to low enrollment.”

“It was with a very heavy heart that we let our parents know that after 70 years of educating the town’s and University’s children, ULNS will be closing our doors,” said ULNS Board President Catherine Shapiro. “We are committed to work hand-in-hand with our current families to insure a great final school year and to help those who need it find the best preschool option for their children next year.”

ULNS was started in 1949 on the University campus by spouses of Princeton University faculty members, seeking a high quality preschool education with a cooperative experience.

On Broadmead Street for more than 30 years, the school relocated in 2015 to its current facility at The Jewish Center on Nassau Street near Riverside Drive. There has been a steady decline in enrollment since that time, with 66 students now enrolled, about half as many as were enrolled four years ago.

“At ULNS, all felt part of a community as well as a school,” said Jim Levine, longtime ULNS board member and father of three ULNS alumni. “It’s a sad day for everyone who has ever been involved with the school.”

Woodney Wachter, ULNS Parent Council president and mother of two ULNS students, reflected on her family’s experience at the school. “In the five years we have spent at ULNS with two of our three children, we have never once heard the words, ‘I don’t want to go to school,’” she recalled. “Instead, every day is an eagerly-awaited adventure. In this, ULNS has given our kids the greatest gift we could ask for from a nursery school: an enthusiasm for learning and a love and trust for the people and places that foster curiosity.”

She continued, “While it is our greatest regret that our youngest will not get to attend, we are eternally grateful for the teachers and staff who have made this
institution so special for so many families over the course of so many years.”

Commenting on the 11 teachers and assistant teachers employed by ULNS, Shapiro said, “The teachers have always been the heart and soul of ULNS, and we will do everything we can to support them in the coming year, including offering financial/retirement planing seminars and job search support.”

ULNS parent Patty Moreno noted, “University League is an experience like none other. Not only is your child received with open arms, but the entire family as well. Before you know it you are welcomed into this community of people that seek the same loving and accepting environment for their children.”