“Playschool was, for me, the beginning of a lifetime of learning.

At Playschool I learned about my own children, about how to be a better parent, about what’s involved in being a great teacher, about how communities can nurture people, and about the lasting importance of early childhood development and education.

Playschool’s values inspired me to gain further education and to start a career where I use my education to support current and future teachers of young children.  When I’ve helped educators reach their professional goals and when I’ve worked as part of a team to promote the very best early education services here and in other countries—looking back, I can see that at every step of the way Playschool has been at the heart of what I’ve tried to achieve.

This gift is one way to return to Playschool what it has given me and my family in the fifty years since I first walked through that red door”. 


— Marilou Hyson

Fund for Professional Development,
made possible by a gift in honor of Marilou Hyson's distinguished career and the importance of Playschool.

We are very grateful to announce a generous endowment of $50,000 gifted in honor of Marilou Hyson by her husband John, and their sons Jeff and Dan, on the occasion of her 80th birthday.

Playschool is a special place for the entire family, but it was Marilou in particular whose career was transformed as a result of her involvement with the school. After working as a helper and being inspired by the work of the teachers, Marilou avidly pursued a career in early childhood education. She has worked in the field with great distinction for almost 50 years.

The Hyson family has a rich intergenerational history with our school.  John Hyson is a past president of the school’s Board of Directors. Both Jeff and Dan Hyson attended Playschool as children, as did Jeff’s children, Sam and Ellie. Dan was also a counselor at camp, which lit the spark for a future career as a school psychologist.

The Hyson gift will be used to establish a Professional Development Fund for use over many years. The Fund will provide opportunities for teachers, administrators, and helpers to gain new knowledge and skills that further their abilities to connect with children and enhance teaching and leadership in the field of early childhood education.

“The teachers are the heart of this school. Having these funds dedicated to the growth and development of our teachers recognizes their commitment and professionalism. It means that we can continue to provide the highest quality early childhood education because we have staff who are continually learning themselves,” says Laura Sacco, Head of School.

Charlestown Playhouse is thankful for the dedicated involvement and financial support that the Hyson Family has given over the years, culminating in this extraordinary gift.  We are excited for the collaboration and growth that it will make possible, and the ways it will strengthen our abilities to carry the work and values of Playschool into the future.

About Marilou Hyson

Marilou Hyson was a parent helper when her children attended Playschool. This experience inspired her to seek a graduate degree in early childhood education and development at Bryn Mawr College. While pursuing this degree, she served for a year as a teacher at Playschool.

After receiving her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr, Marilou joined the faculty in the Department of Individual and Family Studies at the University of Delaware where she taught courses in Early Childhood Education and Child Development.

After 15 years at the university, Marilou became Associate Executive Director for Professional Development at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). While at NAEYC, she served as a consultant for the implementation of a loan by the World Bank for the development of early childhood education programs.

Following her tenure at NAEYC, Marilou focused on a number of national and international early childhood consulting invitations from the World Bank, Save the Children, and UNICEF.  Today, she continues with this work and also serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Foundation for Child Development.

Bill Henry, President of the Playschool Board of Directors, applauds John and Marilou for their willingness to include Playschool in their family legacy. “Playschool is extraordinary because of what it can bring to the entire family, and what a family can bring to Playschool. We really are a community that is more than one child’s learning experience. This contribution is in honor of Marilou’s exceptional work, but it speaks to the strength of the bonds that are forged in this special place.”

Thank you John, Marilou, Jeff and Dan!