Cranston’s Little Shepherd Preschool celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week

The Cranston Herald ·

The Little Shepherd Preschool recently celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week; a great opportunity to spotlight Cranston’s learning centers where great teachers do their critically important work.

For almost 45 years, the Little Shepherd preschool in Cranston has nurtured our children and prepared them for school in a caring environment that gives preschool-aged children an introduction to the classroom and begins the process of teaching basics of letters and language, numbers and science. They also experience a learning environment that emphasizes kindness, cooperation, and appreciation for the spiritual gifts.

Pamela Lukowicz, Director Emeritus, describes Little Shepherd’s origins: “I started The Little Shepherd Preschool in the fall of 1979 and the doors opened in January of 1980.”

“The idea came about while I was in a Bible group at Phillips Memorial Baptist Church called ‘The Drumbeat of Love,’” he recalled. “I had talked about starting a preschool as something I had been interested in. The group encouraged me to go for it. I started looking into the possibility, never really imagining it would happen. Not only did it happen, but almost 50 years later Little Shepherd is still providing solid foundations for children to begin school prepared to thrive and succeed.”

Mrs. Debbie Barber is the Director of Little Shepherd Preschool.

“Our school curriculum is based on the Early Childhood Standards created by the State of Rhode Island,” she said. “It is a program designed to acclimate students to the school environment. They will play, learn and grow throughout the school year. The children will learn social skills in order to function in a classroom setting. Colors, shapes, letters, numbers as well as concepts such as rhyming, letter sounds and patterning are introduced and explored through play and discussion. Many hands-on activities and science activities the children are exposed to help them to gain self confidence and skills necessary for kindergarten. The program is designed to facilitate discussions and learning through games, language arts, music, and play. We want to make learning fun and enjoyable so that children will develop a love for school. Our school curriculum allows each student to develop at their own rate and to use their own unique talents and gifts to help others to learn and gain confidence in their abilities.”

Also important is Little Shepherd’s emphasis on appreciating the spiritual gifts: “Students learn about what kind of people God wants us to be and the love He has for us. They learn about character traits with Bible Verses, the events of Jesus' life and how the way in which Jesus lived should impact our lives. Our students are taught that if we love God then we should love and care for each other and treat each person with respect.”

Generations of Cranston families have seen the benefits of what Little Shepherd provides. Debbie Barber (whose three children and 10 grandchildren attended) elaborates: “We have many children of former students. It is not uncommon for us to have enrolled the children of former students. We have at least 3 at this moment whose parents attended Little Shepherd.” And the work done at Little Shepherd does not go unnoticed as their students move on. According to Mrs. Barber, “The teachers who have Little Shepherd students in the public schools always tell us they can tell our students from others by how prepared they are.”

Among the parents who attended and now send their child to Little Shepherd is Kevin Cuccio.

“Some of the friends I met at Little Shepherd in 1994 are still,” he said. “My friends today. My parents met friends waiting for us in the playground they still vacation with. When it was time for my wife and I to choose a school for our son, it was an easy decision. Sure after two years at Little Shepherd my kid can write his own name and knows about the life cycle of a caterpillar, but what’s really impressed me about the school is how they instill in their students kindness, compassion and friendship. It’s been a joy to watch the etching staff help us as parents in guiding our children down a path of curiosity and empathy and joy.”

Michaela Pizzuti is another alumnus who decided to send her child to Little Shepherd:

“I attended Little Shepherd over 30 years ago and to this day my mom and dad still talk about what an amazing school it was and how they feel it helped lay the foundational skills for my education. When it was time for my husband and I to pick a preschool for our daughter, we knew we wanted her to attend the Little Shepherd. We’re so happy with our decision. She loves the school, her teachers and friends and has learned so much there. I know she’s going to do great in Kindergarten and a huge part of that is due to the education an experience she had at Little Shepherd. I would definitely recommend this school to anyone!”

Generations of fond memories and developing invaluable life skills for Cranston’s children has made the Little Shepherd a beloved Cranston institution. Parents interested in enrolling their young children can find out more at

Editor’s Note: Emmett Hare, a fairly recent arrival to Cranston from Brooklyn, New York, provided this “profile of another important, local institution: The Little Shepherd Preschool.” According to Hare, “Since its founding in 1980, Little Shepherd has seen generations pass through and prepared children for school and beyond. This piece highlights Little Shepherd's emphasis on building strong social skills and providing children with academic basics as they prepare to enter the school system.”

READING ALOUD: Little Shepherd Director Debbie Barber reads to her students. (Photos courtesy Emmett Hare)

ALUMNUS VISIT: A Little Shepherd graduate returns to read a story to this year's class.

AT PLAY: Little Shepherd students play in the preschool playground.

This story was originally posted by The Cranston Herald. Click here to view the original story in its entirety.