The program provides an environment where children feel safe, secure, respected and recognized as individuals. A positive self-image affects each child’s ability to get along with others, to explore and to create. We find ways to help children feel good about themselves in all aspects of their learning. The nursery school space is set up with a variety of materials and activities from which children can choose. The materials in the room are stimulating, challenging and adaptable for children of varying developmental levels.

The children are offered a selection of activities each day. There is time for free play, small group activities, art, movement, dramatic play, story time, outdoor play, field trips, singing, reading, and snack. An important goal of Ashmont Nursery School is to draw upon the racial and cultural diversity of the families and our world to enrich all of the children, parents and staff.

Finally, the school believes that the relationship between the preschool aged child and their parents is the single most important part of their lives. It therefore asks that parents assist the teacher in the classroom on a regularly scheduled basis and help in the administration of the school as well.


ANS is a parent-led cooperative.

So...what is a parent-led cooperative nursery school?

It's a place where parents are involved in the everyday aspects of our school. One parent works at the school each day along with the certified teachers during the regular hours of the program. Parents are scheduled to be “teacher helpers” on a rotating basis which is approximately once per month, per family. In addition to teaching-helping, parents are also required to serve on a committee or take on a job that contributes to the running of the nursery school. These committees include Personnel, Admissions, Fundraising, Facilities, and others. For a full list, see the current ANS Family Handbook.

There are also several general meetings, a school maintenance work day, and one or more fund raising events in which all families participate. A parent board of directors, including an elected Executive Committee, work with the school’s Director to provide structure and guidance for the operation of the school.


Our Teachers


Taniquea Foster

Taniquea Foster comes to Ashmont Nursery School with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She brings over 20 years of relevant experience from both non-profit and private sectors of early childhood education. Taniquea has had the opportunity to work as an assistant teacher, lead teacher, and director in Michigan, Colorado, Oregon and now in Massachusetts. Taniquea believes that play is a child’s most important work. She has a passion for early learning, especially enriching young minds through play and mindful experiences by creating and maintaining an environment where children can grow and thrive while exploring the world around them. Taniquea is married to her high school sweetheart. They are proud parents of two daughters. In her spare time, she enjoys spending quality family time with her husband and daughters, watching historical and geographical documentaries, and going on long walks at the Arnold Arboretum.


Edna Speller

A native of Dorchester, Edna Speller has been a steady presence at ANS since 1997. She is the proud mother of Brandon and Yolanda, now adults. Edna has attended lead teacher classes at Wheelock College. Prior to working with young children, Edna was employed at Polaroid Corporation, but she is pleased to say that ANS has been her favorite place to work. Edna's interests include writing short stories, plays and gardening. She always looks forward to spending time with her large extended family here in the city. Edna always dreamed of working with young children. She finds her colleagues, the children and the entire ANS community to be this dream come-true!


Yolanda Speller

Yolanda was introduced into the ANS community back in 1997 when her mom Edna started here as a teacher.  She says it has always been like a second family full of people who are excited to see you walk through the door. She was excited to have the opportunity to work here in the summers and after school program while she was in high school. Although she attended Lincoln Tech and Bay State College and got her degree in Criminal Justice, she says it's great to come back and be part of this wonderful community.


Jennifer Schreiner

Jennifer Schreiner graduated from Mount Holyoke with a degree in Women’s Studies, studied to be a homebirth midwife and doula, worked in public health in urban and rural areas and has been teaching yoga to kids of all ages for the past 15 years. Jennifer is currently pursuing a Master’s in Early Childhood Education at Lesley University. She’s thrilled to be back at ANS, where her daughter attended and where she served as co-president. Her experience as a parent teacher inspired her to make a career change and become a teacher! She is excited to continue her journey as a toddler teacher and looks forward to exploring, connecting and learning with the children and families at Ashmont Nursery School. In her free time Jennifer loves traveling, reading, photography, food, teaching MMA to women of all ages, and hiking and bouldering with her family. She can be found cooking and dancing while listening to KCRW music shows in Dorchester where she lives with her husband and her daughter Ramona.


Zakiyah Gray

Having been raised in Dorchester, Zakiyah remembers going to ANS as a child back in the early 90s. Zakiyah is the proud mother of a NICU grad who is now a healthy and active 7-year-old named Josiah. She has worked in childcare centers throughout the city of Boston as a teacher assistant and toddler teacher. She received credits for Child Growth and Development at Roxbury Community College and is a certified toddler teacher. Her most recent experience, prior to her return at ANS as an adult, was working at Catholic Charities in which she transformed the classroom by creating a daily schedule and inclusive curriculum. She is looking forward to sharing her passion for learning with the ANS community and embracing the "home away from home" feeling she had as a child at ANS.