About Cedar Lane Nursery School

Where Play Is at the Heart of Learning


Our mission is to provide a warm nurturing environment where children are respected and encouraged to discover themselves. Play is at the heart of learning and hands-on opportunities are provided to encourage learning.



Young children learn through play. Through play children have the opportunity to explore their environment, try out various roles and problem solving strategies, and work on the idea of discovering relationships. This involves their senses as they touch, move, create, and develop understanding about their feelings. Sensory development is facilitated by multi-sensory experiences, play, and language development. Through interaction with adults and peers, children become fascinated by the power of language as a tool for communication and understanding each other. Through positive nurturing and encouragement, children are guided towards the development of autonomy and positive self-esteem.

Our philosophy is based on the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) developmentally appropriate practices. Children’s play is a primary vehicle for developmental growth. Children learn best by doing; it requires active thinking and experimenting to find out how things work and to learn firsthand about the world we live in. In the early years, children explore the world around them by using all of their senses. In using real materials and trying out their ideas, children learn about sizes, shapes, and colors, and they notice the relationships between things. Therefore, child-initiated, teacher-supported play is an essential component of developmental appropriateness.

Examples of developmentally appropriate learning activities for two, three, four, and five year olds are:

  • Language, activity and movement
  • A great variety of experiences, including small motor skill activities
  • Print-rich environments as language skills develop
  • Increased experiences that expand interest into the community
  • Meaningful group experiences as attention span increases
  • Indoor and outdoor opportunities for expanding use of all motor skills
  • Basic math, memory, and problem-solving experiences

In addition, we believe that the educational environment that most effectively promotes significant learning is one where:

  • The individuality and uniqueness of each child is valued, respected and trusted
  • External threats to self; such as rejection, criticism, competitive evaluation, reward, or punishment are at a minimum
  • The child is free to explore the materials and resources that are available in light of his/her own interests, potential, and readiness



The focus of learning through play is for children to form concepts about themselves and their physical and social environments. Generally following the well-established Creative Curriculum, activities are designed to encourage the development of language skills, math concepts, large and small muscle development, music, and art, all in the context of play.

Daily Schedule

Program Goals



Cedar Lane Nursery School is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The school is also a member of the Maryland Council of Parent Participation Nursery Schools and is the first accredited co-operative nursery school in Maryland by the State of Maryland Department of Education.

Our preschool is licensed by the Maryland State Office of Child Care and our program is accredited by the Maryland State Board of Education. We are a full member of the Maryland Council of Parent Participant Nursery Schools (MCPPNS). Cedar Lane Nursery School is the first cooperative nursery school accredited by the Maryland State Board of Education.


The Board of Directors 2017–2018

President: Kate Monzo

Vice President: Emily Kroiss

Treasurer: Sandra Matus

Admissions Chair: Casey Crosthwait Crimmins

Health and Safety Co-Coordinators: Peihan Orestes and Ileana Benitez

Fundraising: Jacqueline Boruch-Cosentino

Secretary: Kim Morgan

Parent Education Co-Chairs: Elizabeth DiLauro and Kate Lannan

2 Year-Old Representative: Kristen Haddeland



Photo of Teacher Bernie

Bernadine “Bernie” Occhiuzzo

CLNS Director and Teacher of the 4/5s Class


Bernie received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Guahati, India in 1980 and a two year Certification course in Education from the state of Assam, India. Bernie continued her work in early childhood education after she moved to the United States and received a Child Development Associate Certification from the District of Columbia in 1998. In 2003, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Central Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawaii. She also has Creative Curriculum Certification. Currently, Bernie serves on the board on PACT (Potomac Association of Cooperative Teachers) and is a part of PACT Directors Group. She was awarded the “District Award” in 2012 by the Parent Cooperative Preschools International for dedicated service to the cooperative preschool movement.


Bernie taught pre-school and kindergarten in India for fifteen years prior to moving to the United States. Upon arriving in the District of Columbia, Bernie substituted in a pre-school in DC for three years. From 1993-2003, Bernie taught three and four year olds at a DC pre-school. In 2003, Bernie became the Director and a Teacher for Cedar Lane Nursery School. She has led the school through Maryland State Accreditation twice and in 2010 obtained National Accreditation for the school.


Bernie lives with her husband in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Her daughter recently graduated High School and headed to college in the fall of 2012.


Photo of Teacher Ellie

Ellie Griffin

CLNS 2/3s and 3s Class Teacher


Ellie Griffin graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. degree in Early Childhood Education. Additionally, she attained a M.Ed. Degree in Human Development from the University of Maryland. She also has a Creative Curriculum Certification.


After completing her undergraduate degree, Ellie took a full-time teaching position at Goddard Child Development Center in Greenbelt where she taught children of Goddard employees. Ellie taught mixed-age classes of 3- and 4- year-olds and one year she also taught Kindergartners. In addition to teaching, Ellie was the assistant director at Goddard for six years. She left Goddard in September 1997 when her daughter was born. Ellie spent four years as a cooping parent at CLNS and has substituted for Bernie in her absence. She has taught the three-year-olds at CLNS since 2007.


Ellie has a son and a daughter. Ellie enjoys sporting events, especially golfing and her children’s swim meets and lacrosse games. She also enjoys reading, baking and traveling to Pennsylvania to visit her family and to attend Penn State games.


Photo of Teacher Doreen

Doreen Bunten

CLNS 2s Class Teacher


Doreen attended Suffolk University in Boston for two years and has completed her 90 hour course. She has a Creative Curriculum Certification.


Doreen's preschool teaching experience began at CLNS as a co-oping parent. She taught in the 2s class for a year before moving away to California. While there, she taught in a 2s class at La Costa Valley preschool in Carlsbad and at a private kindergarten.


Doreen lives in Potomac with her husband and two children. Both of her children attended CLNS.


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Logo: National Association for the Education of Young Children

Cedar Lane Nursery School is accredited by National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Logo: Maryland Excels

Cedar Lane Nursery School is also the first cooperative nursery school accredited by the Maryland State Board of Education.