Gail Dahling

Pine Grove School will always be very special to me.  It was the school that taught me so much about working with families, children and staff members. I started at Pine Grove as a parent- my daughter Kelsey went to PGS, and later in life- her daughter Summer went to PGS.  I guess Pine Grove is a family school for lots of reasons!  I soon loved Pine Grove so much that I wanted to work there.   I was lucky enough to work with the first Principal, Mr. Nolan, for 5 years as the Assistant Principal.  When he retired, I became Principal for 6 years.  What a great job! 

Pine Grove was a shiny new school in Avon and Thompson Brook was just being built when I started.  Did you know that people had a nickname for Pine Grove?  They called it the “Taj Mahal” because it was so big and fancy.  When I started, it was a K-5 building, then it became a PreK-Grade 4. It always had lots of students and staff, but it felt like a big family.  The best part of Pine Grove has always been the people.  The teachers worked so very hard and really cared about the children.  They were not alone- EVERYONE loved the children.  Pine Grove was a team of teachers, office help, nurses, custodians, tutors, and paraprofessionals.  Our PTO was am amazing part of the team too.  That brings me to think about my favorite project at PGS….

The playground!  Teachers always worked to improve how we taught and what we taught, but joy was important too.  We wanted children to be able to enjoy school- inside and outside.  Our playground was not fun for kids- there were old beams that were splinted and broken.  Sometimes the bees burrowed into the old planks.  It was getting older and our school still looked shiny, we needed a PGS playground that everyone could play on! 

BUT playgrounds cost ALOT of money to build. So, our team started to work together to save money and get our playground fund going.  The teachers scooped ice cream at J. Fosters, they cooked at served burgers at MacDonald’s, and they volunteered services for fundraisers and auctions.  Our families did a ton too- hosting family nights, selling wrapping paper, working afterschool activities… the list goes on!  We finally had enough funds to build a playground that was just right for EVERY child to access- it had ramps for wheelchairs and walkers, soft foam padding and slides and activities for all ages!  We even added basketball hoops that could be set both high and low.  Now, PGS has the “Taj Mahal” of playgrounds too! 


Happy 30th Anniversary Pine Grove friends! 

Mark Nolan    Gail Dahling  ★  Jess Giannini  ★  Amy Borio