Pine Orchard Nursery School


Children raise their hands in a colorful classroom

Pine Orchard Nursery School (PONS) is an independent, nonprofit, parent involved preschool located in the Indian Neck section of Branford. The experienced teachers at PONS are dedicated to providing a safe, nurturing, developmentally-appropriate learning environment for children of preschool age. The educational goal at PONS is to facilitate the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth of each child.

Pine Orchard Nursery School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, and other school-administered programs.

Our Philosophy

Pine Orchard Nursery School (PONS) was founded as a parent cooperative in 1939 and presently exists in the "little red school house" at 149 South Montowese Street in Branford. Almost seventy years later, PONS maintains its original mission: to provide an exceptional preschool experience in a parent-involved school.

At PONS, we strive to nurture a child's innate sense of wonder and curiosity. Our teachers encourage exploration and growth in an environment that is safe, stimulating, consistent, and nurturing. We encourage cooperation, communication, and respect for others. We believe that school should be a happy place, and we strive to make every child's first school experience a positive one.

Through cooperation and communication, parents and teachers work together and form relationships which create a community spirit. Preschool children find comfort in this close relationship between school and home. Parents are always welcomed into the classroom, encouraged to observe and participate. Everyone at PONS is a learner - the children, the teachers, and the parents. Together we create a community of learning.


If you're interested in reading more about how current research supports our educational philosophies, take a look at some of this writing.


Erin Aschettino


I couldn't be happier to be returning to PONS! I am a lifelong Branford resident who attended PONS when I was a kid! My daughter attended preschool here and I am so excited to now be a teacher at this wonderful school!. The warm atmosphere and connection with families is like no other preschool!

I am a mother of three (Christopher 12, Lexie, 9 and Brady 8) and have spent the last 10 years as a stay at home mom with them! During that time we attended different classes around town and met so many wonderful families. As they started their school years, I served on the board of the PTA at Tisko School and continue to volunteer within the community. In my free time I love traveling, going to the beach, reading and spending time with my family. I also have a passion for fashion and you can often find me talking about jewelry and handbags!

I graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Rhode Island. Soon after, I earned my Masters degree in Elementary Education from the University of New Haven. During that time I was an intern at Tisko school and went on to teach fourth grade there for 5 years. I am so excited to get back into teaching after taking the time off to raise my children. I am looking forward to a fun year ahead!

Cindy Mascola


Shana Johnson-Lanning

Head Teacher

I am so excited to be back at Pine Orchard Nursery School! My family goes back generations teaching here at PONS, from my grandmother, to my mother, and myself! I also attended school here when I was younger, and my own children followed in my footsteps. It is an amazing little school that you just can't help but love.

I am a mother of three : Tyler (16), Spencer(13), and Rylin (10). I was a stay at home mom for a few years so I could watch them grow. I also had the chance to volunteer at their schools and loved every minute of it! I have been a substitute teacher here at PONS for many years, worked at daycares, and as a nanny as well.

I have a degree in early childhood education. Teaching was my dream since childhood. I am so glad that I am back at it. I am truly looking forward to this year and many more to come here at PONS! I know your family will love it just as much as we do.

Sara Anglemire

Teacher / Bookkeeper

I am excited to join the teaching staff at PONS this year. Both of my daughters (now 9 & 7) attended Pine Orchard, and I guess you can say I never left. PONS is such a special place, where life long relationships are formed. While at PONS I have served on the board for Maintanance and as President. I have been a counselor at summer camp, substitute teacher, and became Bookkeeper in 2021. I have also served on the Sliney's PTA, and enjoy being a room parent and coach for Sliney's Running Club.

In my free time, I love to read, go hiking, and spend time with my family. I look forward to your family discovering the magic that is Pine Orchard Nursery School this year too!