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St. Columba’s Nursery School

"We need accounting people who are reliable and accurate...."


Since 1959, St. Columba’s Nursery School has been offering a haven for childhood, embracing play as a child’s most natural and effective way of learning. Located in the Tenley Circle area of northwest Washington, D.C., the school operates under the 501c3 of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church but with its own business, accounting and bookkeeping systems. The school’s philosophy affirms that every individual – children, parents, and staff – connected with the school is regarded as a person with an inestimable capacity to grow and learn. Discerning each child’s unique level of development and challenging him or her with new and varied experiences to excite and engage their learning and exploration are the goals of the approach to teaching. The school prides itself on fostering the art of play, cultivating earthly stewardship and nurturing vital social skills to help children learn through discovery.

Julia Berry, Head of St. Columba’s Nursery School, came to her job 12 years ago. “I’m not an accountant. I had a fairly rudimentary knowledge of accounting but I know what I know and I know what I don’t know,” she says. “So we need accounting people who are reliable and accurate. Our $1.8 million budget isn’t ‘chump change’ but we operate on a shoestring.

“There aren’t that many accountants out there who are willing to work on a freelance basis for only several days a month and do the thorough job that we need. For many years I had a wonderful accountant but she retired. Every day I was wondering what we were going to do when by sheer luck I heard a YPTC sponsorship on National Public Radio.” Berry met with staff in our D.C. office. “I felt confident that it would work out perfectly and I have not been disappointed.”

Today, Associate Cheryl Chartier come to the school on a flexible basis and adjusts her schedule accordingly as the accounting systems become more efficient. “Cheryl has been very reliable. I can count on her to come in when she says she will and she is spot-on. She’s developed systems for us and different pathways that have illuminated my eyes to things that had slipped through the cracks which we otherwise would not have been aware of. It’s been just great.”

Berry lauds the cost-effectiveness of YPTC’s services. “Cheryl has been really great about monitoring her time and our accounting expenses, which I truly appreciate.”

Berry particularly appreciates Chartier’s energy. “Cheryl has been a lovely addition to our team and we love working with her. It’s been a tremendous education working with someone like her who is so adept at explaining best practices and setting up reports that are transparent and understandable. She’s been open and willing to learn about our school’s operations. I’m so happy when we both get to exchange ‘Aha! moments.’ It’s lovely to see someone with that much enthusiasm and interest in expanding her knowledge base.”

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