A Community of Learners

Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to learning, our children and teachers are co-constructors of knowledge!  The school is a reflection of its community.  Canterbury and its surrounding towns are wealthy in community resources; from farmers to talented artisans and musicians, to outdoors specialists, to business owners, to mindfulness experts, there are many connections to be made. Parents, of course, are a welcome and valuable collaborator in our learning.

Using the Environment as the Third Teacher

The Grounds: Situated on nearly 700 acres of forest, pasture, gardens, and buildings, the historic museum setting of the Canterbury Shaker Village (a National Historic Landmark) provides the ideal nature-based learning environment for children to explore daily. From observations to explorations, children will have nature as well as the Village to inspire their imagination and curiosities.  Through frequent interactions with museum staff, children will learn more about the land, beautiful craftsmanship, and ingenuity of the Shakers as well as their dog, Dewey.  Students and families will also have the opportunity to garden in the Shaker Gardens; doing the "heavy" work of gardening;  planting, nurturing seeds, and growing their knowledge of where food comes from. 

The Classroom Space: In keeping with the Shaker design elements, children will find plenty of pegs, neutral colors, natural or wood furnishings and many provocations to challenge themselves.  The Dewey School is located in the former Shaker Table building offering an incredibly beautiful classroom space graced with natural light.  The integral art studio (Atelier) is open and provides ample opportunity to explore light, color, and creation of all kinds.  With easy parking and a green space for gathering, the school's private entrance on the west side of the building  welcomes visitors, families, and students.  

A Sample of our Day 

(8:00-3:00 p.m)

We will be learning inside and out at The Dewey School! Just as we breathe, we will have active learning (inhale) followed by peaceful reflection (exhale). We’ll take our time in all that we do providing opportunity for the children to be our guides as we move through the day from active to reflective, peaceful learning. A full day may look something like this:




Inhale: Work Time - Children are introduced to materials and invitations of inquiry. The teacher will help facilitate community by guiding children in their communication with one another, problem solving, kindness, and courtesies. Many days children may begin their day outside during this period, in unstructured play, or in a guided activity. 


Snack:  A nourishing snack is provided and eaten in community at the tables inside or out.  


Exhale: Morning Circle- may be indoors or out. This gathering includes greeting songs, mindfulness moments, weather, calendar, and introduction of new activities. Being together in community sets the tone for our day together.



Inhale: Group time-indoors or out. This gathering is for songs, stories, and group large motor activities such as games, parachute, music, and yoga. Outside, we will explore the many acres of the property walking the Village side down Scat Alley, through the granite beds, looking for stomping puddles or viewing the beaver and lodge from Boys Island.  On the world side, we'll explore our Amphibian Forest, Fairy Forest, or hike to Meadow Pond. We will track the wildlife and meet in our own child created beaver lodge.



We will end our morning in song as we say goodbye to our morning friends and ready ourselves for lunch.



Lunch time-inside or out.



Inhale: Outdoor adventures. Activities include time for unstructured play and/or guided explorations in nature. Inside this is a time for choice; puzzles, books, blocks, studio, etc.


Exhale:  Rest time, story time, reflecting the morning, activities may be based on morning topics, allowing the opportunity to further investigate both classroom and outdoor interests.


After 3:00

Outdoor time. 

Caregivers as Partners (CAP)

Families come in many shapes and sizes! We value the caregivers of our students and feel they are a vital partner in the success of our children.  Caregivers are the first teachers, the bedtime hug-givers, story-readers, the foundation layers, and the advocates!  At The Dewey School, we value the input and participation of our caregivers.  Caregivers as Partners (CAP) will help to foster relationships between families as they support one another, help to organize Dewey School community activities and educational workshops, offer feedback to The Dewey School Board of Directors, and partner closely with teachers.


It is our hope that you will take an active interest in our school community. We look forward to partnering with you.

Our Offerings

Your child will be welcome in our multi-aged enrollment options Monday -Friday. Contact us for more information.

Our Mission

It is the mission of The Dewey School to provide a joyful early learning environment; where children are viewed as capable and competent citizens who express themselves through a variety of ways;  where opportunities to grow through play and student interest are fostered;  where developing a sense of community is valued and exploring nature is embraced!

Our Board of Directors

Amanda Grappone Osmer,  Chairperson is a NH native who lives in Canterbury with her husband Tom and their three children.  Amanda's love of kids, nature, and the Canterbury Shaker Village are coming together in her Dewey School board service.  She is a business owner, trail runner, and lifelong learner who wishes Dewey had been around when she was little. 

Lisa Ranfos has been in the field of early childhood education for 25 years as a classroom teacher in Infant/Toddler, Preschool, and Kindergarten classrooms.  Since leaving the classroom Lisa has taken on more of a leadership role in working with early childhood programs.  In addition to being a Child Care Resource and Referral Manager in the Concord area, she has been working with pre-service teachers and lab school communities since 2005. She acquired her Master's degree in early childhood education from Wheelock College and is pursuing her PhD. She lives in Allenstown with her husband and three boys.​

Cheryl Newcombe is a business owner who lives in Canterbury with her rescue animals.  Her passion for animals and nature began at an early age while working next to her grandfather on his farm in Hingham, MA  She has been teaching kinder-church for children ages 3 – 5  for over 20 years, and especially loves this age group.  Cheryl has sat on previous boards and wants  to use her experience to help advance the mission of The Dewey School.

Claire Racine  is a New Hampshire native who lives in Epsom with her husband. She is the proud mother of a son and daughter. Claire's passion is giving back to her community and others who are less fortunate.  Claire has been in the Human Resources field since 1990, and having been on many committees over the years, Claire has been involved with many nonprofits. A graduate of Leadership NH, Claire is always looking for what will help make New Hampshire a better place to live and work for the next generations. Claire believes The Dewey School experience is one that is both fun and enriching for its students, helping them on their journey to becoming well-rounded and productive members of society.

James Marino is a NH native who grew up on a small farm in Dunbarton. A resident of Canterbury for 10 years, he had never visited Shaker Village until his youngest son was enrolled in the Dewey School. It was love at first sight. James' fondness for the Dewey School's approach to learning, nature-based curriculum, and community-building, have made he and his family regular visitors of both the Dewey School and Shaker Village. James has worked in the financial industry for more than twenty years, but also takes great interest in the creative arts. He earned an MFA in fiction writing 10 years ago, and has since taught English Composition and Public Speaking at Southern New Hampshire University. 

Brian Bernard is a New Hampshire native who graduated from the University of New Hampshire before starting a journey to Colorado with his fiancé. He returned 15 years later with a wife, two kids, a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from Regis University, and a deep appreciation for his home state. Brian with his wife Felicity, daughter Josie (12), and son Theo live in Canterbury surrounded by trees. Brian has worked in the nonprofit field for the majority of his professional career, and is currently at Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire where he is the Regional Program Manager for the Lakes Region. Brian likes to spend his time hiking, weightlifting, playing cribbage, and traveling with his family. In reality, Brian spends most of his free time doing chores around the house, cooking, and looking for a quiet spot to read a good book.

Bill Tappan is a New Hampshire native, lover of forests and the symbiotic relationship between them and humanity.  The Dewey School represents the type of school he envisioned when contemplating how to improve the learning experience for children when serving on a local school board.  He was educated at UNH, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Liverpool.  That education was used to enlighten and enrich his life and allow him to earn a living working in consulting and management.  Bill served in the US Army where he met his interesting wife, and together they have been loving, learning, discussing ideas, serving others, traveling, and raising two good men.

 Director/Teaching Staff

Mindy Beltramo, MEd has been involved in education since 1987 when she first began her career with early learners.  


In 2008, after reading Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, she embarked on a journey that would change her life. Realizing that children were becoming less and less connected to the outdoor world, she coordinated the complete redesign of the schoolyard at her public school, helping children grow inside...out. Awarded NH Environmental Educator Of the Year in 2009, she co-authored DIG, an integrated, experiential, and developmentally appropriate science curriculum inviting students to discover, investigate, and grow using the outdoors as a classroom. 


When not at school, Mindy lives a “hands on” outdoor life in Canterbury; always learning with her husband as they ride their tandem bicycle, work with their Alaskan Huskies, and garden! 

Annie Bell  has attended art and early childhood education classes at both Montserrat College of Art and NHTI. She gained invaluable experience in child development and literacy during her years of service with AmeriCorps and its New Hampshire Reads program.. 


In the last ten years, Annie has been a teacher at a Montessori school, inspired children at a local extended day program, and provided childcare in her home all the while regularly attending continuing education courses in both art and early childhood education.


Annie teaches group and private art lessons to both children and adults. She is so excited to be part of The Dewey School team and to help nurture children’s unique interests through process based art, play, and exploration. In a Mary Poppins sort of way, she is unflappable!

Alexis Matthews-Cheney 

 is excited for a school year filled with adventure and endless learning opportunities.  With several years of experience teaching children of all ages combined with continued education courses from NHTI and professional development  Alexis is passionate about creating hands-on learning opportunities.  Finding what interests a child and sparking their curiosity creates joy and excitement for her as a teacher.

She grew up in Boscawen, and was blessed to experience all of the beauty New Hampshire has to offer.  At a young age skiing, hiking, gardening, and cooking were instilled in Alexis.  Now as a mother and wife she enjoys coaching her daughter’s soccer team, volunteering as the popcorn coordinator at Boscawen Elementary School, cooking, spending time with her family, and passing on the joy of discovering New Hampshire’s great outdoors to her daughter.

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288 Shaker Road

Canterbury, NH 03224

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