Our History

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Heartworks and Renaissance Schools were founded in 1988 by Louise H. Piché and Diane Rooney, and by 2013 had grown to encompass three Heartworks Preschools, in Burlington, Williston and Shelburne, along with the Renaissance Elementary School at Shelburne Farms. In September 2013, Lisa and Paul Zengilowski assumed ownership of the schools. 

Paul and Lisa have a long and rich history with the schools that began when their children, Gregory and Allison, attended the Heartworks and Renaissance Schools through sixth grade. 

Impressed with the philosophy and values of these programs, Lisa joined the Heartworks leadership team in 2002 as the first School Director for Heartworks Williston and held that position from 2002-2012; she was instrumental in growing the school from four classes to nine classes including expanding to Kindergarten through Second grade classes during 2003-2007. In 2011, she assumed operational responsibility for all Heartworks Preschools, a role she held until assuming ownership in September, 2013.

In the fall of 2014, Paul and Lisa expanded the scope of programs to include the children six weeks old through 23 months at the Heartworks Shelburne campus, the Endeavour Middle School, a stand-alone program, grades sixth through eighth at Shelburne Commons, as well as the Heartworks Stowe program.

As the schools continue to grow and thrive, the approach to education and Heartworks values that began with Louise and Diane’s vision, lives on.

Please read on to learn more about how the name of each of our schools reflect the educational approach appropriate to each child’s developmental stage.

The Heartworks Preschool

An exceptional and nurturing environment, rich with experiential learning. We lovingly engage infants and children, encouraging them to develop their curiosity about the world.  Whether through the theme-based morning program or the afternoon STEAM program, young students learn life skills during collaborative play, discover interests through the stimulating curriculum, and engage in learning through a compelling, hands-on education, preparing them for elementary school.

The name Heartworks reflects the care for preschool children as truly a “Work of the Heart,” and indicates our commitment to provide a loving educational, social and emotional experience for each child. With an eye towards Kindergarten preparation, we balance a structured curriculum with exploration and value building. Through themes such as Science, Stories Around the World, Creative Arts, Cultures, Animal and People Homes, Water, Celebrations from Around the World and Family and Friends, as well as a STEAM Program in the afternoon, we build on children’s natural curiosity about their world, with programs designed to enrich each child with trust, faith in the goodness of humanity, a deep connection with the natural world and a strong sense of fairness, compassion and respect for all living things.

Our carefully created classrooms are filled with natural materials, books, age appropriate toys and classroom supplies. In this warm and welcoming environment children feel safe and confident to gain developmental skills, enabling them to experiment, to ask questions, to develop supportive relationships with teachers and peers and ultimately to open their minds to the important lessons that will help them become successful learners and citizens in their community and the world. At Heartworks Preschools, students and teachers are truly engaging in the “Work of the Heart.”

The Renaissance Elementary School

An inquiry-based education with a strong focus on developing academic skills and character development through hands-on learning in the heart of Shelburne Farms.  Small classes, a curriculum aligned with and surpassing national standards, and teachers who excel at engaging students, all contribute to create a rich learning environment.  As students prepare to transition to middle school, special emphasis is placed on acquiring organizational skills and academic independence.

The name of Renaissance School was chosen to signify the Renaissance era, a period of great enlightenment and discovery marked by a new creative energy in the arts and sciences.  Just as Renaissance era scholars sought to be well-rounded, a Renaissance School student will study the traditional academics such as mathematics, science, social studies, language arts while also experiencing community service, life skills, literature, world language in French and Spanish starting in Kindergarten, physical education, art, drama, health, music, and technology as an integral part of the world in which we live.  Students also participate in team building and values-based discussions on topics such as respect, courage, kindness, and more, where they share ideas in an open forum and build conflict resolution skills as an integral part of the program.  At Renaissance Elementary School, students are well on their way to becoming well-rounded world citizens.

The Endeavour Middle School

Fostering academic excellence, the spirit of discovery, and compassion for others, students develop both academic and nonacademic skills as they prepare for high school.  With electives that range from organization and technology to band and nature writing, a mentoring program, and high personal and academic standards, students complete a rich curriculum before high school begins.  Students also participate in a community outreach program that engages students with professionals and affords opportunities for real-world learning and community service. 

The name “Endeavour” has a rich and important history that speaks to the mission and curriculum at the Endeavour Middle School. In 1768, Britain’s Royal Navy and The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge conceived a three-year scientific expedition to the Pacific on a ship named Endeavour.  Endeavour’s captain was one of the world’s most renowned and capable 18th century British naval officers, Captain James Cook, who was known for his expertise in mathematics and cartography. The Endeavour expedition under Cook’s command, produced many achievements including the accurate charting of New Zealand and Australia and successfully navigating the Great Barrier Reef.  Thousands of new plant specimens and animal species were observed and illustrated on this voyage, establishing forever the value of including scientists, naturalists and artists on voyages of exploration.  

So enduring, historic and important was the Endeavour’s voyage, that when it came time to replace the Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger, for the first time a national competition involving students in elementary and secondary schools took place to name the new orbiter.  In May of 1989, President George Bush announced the winning name, Endeavour.  It was named after the numerous achievements made by James Cook on the Endeavour expedition. Just as James Cook set the standard with his seafaring Endeavour expedition, the Space Shuttle Endeavour missions continued to uphold and surpass the standards set by its namesake, nearly 250 years later.  

At Endeavour Middle School, we look to emulate the spirit of discovery and compassion that characterized Captain Cook’s voyages and continues to inspire scientists and students alike, while preparing students for high school with an excellent academic foundation.