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“I'm so blessed. I always tell my kids that I love life and love what I do."
Meet Corrine Jermine, director and head teacher of the Playschool Pre-K Learning Center right near the Town Green in North Haven.
The playschool caters to kids aged three to five.
Corrine laughs and says, "My family calls this place 'Corky's World' because my nickname is Corky."
She says, "They often ask me, 'What's happening in Corky's World?'"
Corky? Corrine got the nickname from her dad due to her curly hair and says, laughing, "Corky's World-guess it's rather like Elmo's World."
Corrine has been with the center for about 16 years. She first got involved when her mentors and dear friends, Arlene Baldo and Susan Pepe, were founders and her kids attended the school and supported her interest in the school.
The strong support structure in her life started, "with my siblings being so close," she says. "All eight of us are each other's best friends, and live in, or close to North Haven.
"Then it trickles down from there. I come into work each day with these four wonderful women, Peggy White, Annette Esposito, Cindy Rockefeller, and Michele Salzano, who are my friends, as well as my co-workers," Corrine continues.
"I honestly couldn't do what I do without them; it's a team effort to create this amazing environment."
Corrine describes the Playschool as a "structured, loving, nurturing pre-school environment, which gives the children a head start on formal learning to prepare them for kindergarten.
"A lot is expected of children these days because kindergarten is now being called the new 1st grade," Corrine says.
"I'm a teaching director, but I do all my administrative work after the kids are gone. When the kids are here, I focus on working directly with them because my greatest love is working with children," says Corrine.
She adds, "I come to the school every day because I truly love it, then I go home and share all my wonderful stories about the children with my family."
Corrine's close-knit family is dear to her heart.
"My greatest inspiration is my mother," Francis Maiocco, who at 85 passed away shortly after Corinne's interview for this story. "We are both graduates of Central Connecticut State University."
"Mom was also a teacher, and had eight kids...She was a wonderful person who has taught me so much, with a very supportive father, [Vincent Maiocco],throughout my life, too."
Corrine confides, "My husband, Bobby, is just wonderful figure in my life. He supports and loves my career with the children and has been the love of my life since I was 14."
Being married to a pre-school director comes with its requirements.
"Every week we have a different school theme, and Bobby will gladly come in here dressed as a penguin for bird month or [on] St, Patrick's Day dressed as a leprechaun."
Bobby also keeps busy with his own commercial plumbing and heating business, Jermine Plumbing.
Corrine's three children, Robert, Jr., David, and Tara are, as Corrine proudly calls them, her "greatest achievement, my pride and joy.
"I'm so very proud of all of them," she says. "Both of my boys were just recently engaged to wonderful ladies, and my youngest, Tara, is turning 21 this week."
Tara is still in school and "is following in her mother and grandmother's footsteps and working on her degree in education."
Tara also comes into the playschool as a substitute teacher on occasion.
Corrine says, "We are a non-profit, non-religious program, but instill strong values and teach goodness, respect, [and] honesty.
"I embrace my time with the kids and believe they leave here with such a confident, positive first school experience to take with them," says Corrine, smiling.