Kischell Celebrates 25 Years with Neighborhood Preschool

Olivia DrakeJune 4, 20093min
Diane Kischell will miss playing with the children at NPS.
Diane Kischell will miss playing with the children at NPS.

For 25 years, Diane Kischell has cared for the children of dozens of Wesleyan employees and Middletown community members.

This month, Kischell, director and head teacher at the Wesleyan-affiliated Neighborhood Preschool (NPS), is retiring. She started at NPS in 1983.

“Diane’s teaching, mentorship and commitment have guided the Neighborhood Preschool, fostering a school where children can be themselves and where they develop a firm foundation of self-esteem and communication skills that sustain them as they grow,” says Suzanna Tamminen, director of Wesleyan University Press and mother of Hugh Barrett NPS ’07, Fiona Barrett NPS ’08 and Silas Barrett NPS ’12.

Ana Perez-Girones, adjunct professor of romance languages and literatures, left her daughter, Hanna Westby NPS ’06, in Kischell’s care for four years. Perez-Girones admired that Kischell would sit on the floor with the children, making herself approachable, while providing direction.

“What I loved about Diane’s approach to the kids was that it was so no-nonsense. She was direct, firm but not harsh, and she talked to the children as respectable people, young but smart,” Perez-Girones says. “Hanna was truly happy and secure there, and that place felt like home. If only every kid could go to daycare at a place like NPS, and with someone like Diane.”

Tamminen says she and fellow parents have relied on Kischell’s good nature, deep knowledge and steadfast practicality. Through her teaching and her extraordinary leadership at NPS, Kischell has made a profound difference in the lives of many families in the local community.

Kischell looks forward to spending more time with her own family, especially her new grandson, and to exploring new hobbies. Her favorite activity has been and remains playing with children.

Jody Viswanathan, library assistant in World Music Archives, put her child, Kerey NPS ’92 in the care of Kischell in 1989. They’ve remained close friends ever since. Viswanathan admires Kischell as both a gifted teacher and as a specialist in early childhood development.

“Beneath that wonderful, unassuming, unaffected person who gets right down on the floor with the kids is a tremendously insightful,intuitive, well-trained, well-read, incredibly astute person,” Viswanathan says. “There’s only one Diane — and being the one and only, she’s an unbelievably hard act to follow.”

A potluck retirement party will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 12 at 115 High Street. Letters also can be written to Diane c/o NPS, 115 High Street, Middletown, CT 06457.