By Melissa Randall
One of the very first school experiences Revere children have is at Happy Day Nursery School. Happy Day, which has been operating for over 40 years, is a half day preschool program that focuses on encouraging children to grow intellectually, socially and emotionally. They strive to provide a well rounded curriculum to the students to prepare them in the best way possible for Kindergarten and beyond, as starting with a core foundation and a love for learning is most important in a child’s development.
One of those dedicated to the development of the youngest learners is Denise Balchunas who recently celebrated 25 years at Happy Day. When Ms. Denise’s son attended Kindergarten at the A.C. Whelan School she volunteered in his classroom with his teacher Mrs. Webb. She had been a stay at home mom, but when her son entered first grade she got a part time job at Progressive Private Preschool in Revere. That is where her love for Early Education began.
A 1980 graduate of Revere high School, she began attending North Shore Community College. There she received her certification in Early Childhood Education as a Lead Teacher/Preschool.
“A friend of mine saw a job posting for Happy Day in the fall of 1998. I had set up an interview with the two owners Carole Smith & Dianne Misci. I was very impressed with the both of them and how they ran their preschool. I was very happy they hired me, and began working in October 1998.”
Ms. Denise has had many special moments over the last 25 years. “I have enjoyed special times with the students such as holidays and special events. Most importantly I have enjoyed watching the children learn, grow and come into their own. A lot of the students come to Happy Day at 2.9 and stay with us until 5 when they leave to attend kindergarten. It is so rewarding to see them develop and become more confident, self-sufficient and develop a love for learning. I have also met so many wonderful families over the years. I love when they send us Christmas cards and stop in to say hello! I have also, along with Miss Carole, experienced the 2nd generation of Happy Day students!”
“The staff at Happy Day has always been more like a family. There are 2 teachers in each class. We team teach and are constantly bouncing ideas off of one another, and learning from each other’s strengths. It is very rewarding seeing the children develop along with my co-workers.”
No job comes without challenges. “One of the biggest challenges is trying to minimize the chaos when working with 16 three & four year olds. A lot of the children come into preschool at 2.9 and have not had any experience being in a group setting. Learning to listen, following directions, sharing and transitioning are always big challenges with preschoolers. But it can also be so rewarding to see them evolve. I feel that I have been truly blessed to be working in a field that I love and working with the people I love as well. I can honestly say that after 25 years I still enjoy going into school every day!”
Carole Smith, owner of Happy Day, could not be happier to have Ms. Denise on her staff. “I feel very blessed to have had Miss Denise be a part of the Happy Day family for the past 25 years. Denise walks into school every day with a smile on her face and puts her heart and soul into teaching!