Even her husband calls her, ‘Miss Diane’… So also, her staff, her friends, her neighbours, local shop keepers… and her more than 1000 children over the past three decades.
Diane Bartle is retiring and a Brantford institution, ‘A Child’s Place Preschool’ is closing.
Housed in the W. Ross McDonald school, for 28 years, kids from two and a half to five years have known this as their place of safety, security, caring and enrichment.
When pressed by this reporter, current and former staff in an interview determined that there were so many adjectives celebrating Miss Diane, but one word seemed most fitting, inclusive. These toddlers, their parents and the repeat generations that followed all felt comfortable, welcome and unjudged on any level in her place.
The doors close for the last time this month on Brant Ave and Miss Diane takes a deserved retirement with her husband Paul looking forward to more time with her three (and a half) grandchildren.
Sharon Brooks Executive Director of Kids Can Fly started her career as an Early Childhood Educator with Miss Diane 48 years ago. The money raised from donations at the event is dedicated to Kids Can Fly. Rita-Marie Hadley, Executive Director of Lansdowne Children’s Centre sent her toddlers into Miss Diane’s care over two decades ago.
About a hundred other folks came to share their stories and surprise Miss Diane in the cafeteria of W. Ross as the kids came out of Thursday’s classroom.
One young man was helping out with the set-up, 17-year-old Eric Graham. He had brought with him a photograph of himself with his two buddies on either side of him, taken while a student at the school, dressed as the three wise men, although it may have been more appropriately the three wise guys. They had ‘escaped’, in his words, and he remembers running through the halls until finally being drawn back by the smell of freshly baked cookies.
Linda, one of the school’s former teachers recalls that Miss Diane purposely hired mature ECE grads to give them a new start. Linda had retired with her family to Newfoundland and would not have missed returning for this special recognition.
Another current parent, Karen and her son Michael, are going to miss the loving atmosphere offered by Miss Diane and came to wish her a glorious retirement.
She credits so much success to her staff, and as to the concept of retirement? She confides, “Gonna do a happy dance…no more paperwork.”
Miss Diane is and forever has been the heart of the preschool and can look back over her company and the wonderful memories with pride and accomplishment.