Saratoga County

New private school to open in fall in Clifton Park

Parents seeking to enroll their young children in a private nursery school or elementary school will

Parents seeking to enroll their young children in a private nursery school or elementary school will have a new option this fall in southern Saratoga County.

The Sara Marie School will open in September, initially taking students from nursery school through second grade, with classrooms in the former offices of Capital Care Pediatrics on Route 146.

Capital Care Pediatrics built a larger facility behind its old office, which has stood empty for a few years, said John Scavo, town planning director.

“It’ll be a nice addition,” Scavo said.

Mother Teresa Academy had proposed putting its own school there but decided against it, and its work paved the way for the new school to get quicker site plan approval, Scavo said.

Several private school employees got together to start their own school, named for a colleague who died of cancer last year. Sara Marie Chase Duffany was a kindergarten teacher who died at age 26 in October, six months after she was diagnosed.

“She was always someone who was always laughing,” said Michelle Acosta-Emirzian, director of the new school, who had worked with Duffany. “She was such an amazing teacher, and she taught all of us.”

Acosta-Emirzian said she would rather not say where the employees worked before starting the new school, but Duffany’s obituary says she was a teacher at Mother Teresa Academy.

The Sara Marie School’s headmaster is Patrick DiCaprio, whose experience in education dates to 1964. He was a public school teacher and administrator in several districts, including Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Niskayuna, Schenectady and Scotia-Glenville, and an adjunct professor at the University at Albany. He was in the Army before becoming a teacher in 1964 and served in the Air National Guard from 1965 to 1981.

The Sara Marie School will not be religious, although there is a character development component that teachers model for students about how to become good human beings, Acosta-Emirzian said.

She expects 40 or more students in five mixed-age classes. The school plans to add a grade level each year up to fifth grade as students age.

Full-day programs cost $5,500, half-day kindergarten enrichment costs $3,950 and half-day nursery school is $2,650.

The school will hold open houses from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 29 and 30.

Though the Shenendehowa school system is good, some students really thrive in the smaller class sizes a private elementary school can offer, Acosta-Emirzian said.

“I think that today as parents we’re realizing that not all children can learn in the same environment,” she said.

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