A dream come true: former student at Milford preschool now head of facility

Connor Archer with The Courageous Steps Project fulfill vision that began when he was 8 years old
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 4:17 PM EST
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MILFORD, Maine (WABI) - A dream come true.

That’s how The Courageous Steps Founder and CEO Connor Archer describes the Green House Village Preschool in Milford.

At Green House Village Preschool, you’ll find children with all kinds of abilities as well as challenges. The Milford preschool prides itself on inclusivity.

“From keeping all of our children in the classroom learning in the same space to the way that we do activities,” says The Courageous Steps CEO and Chairman, Connor Archer.

Research shows that the first five years of a child’s life are critical for growth and development. For those on the autism spectrum, early intervention becomes even more key.

“Interacting with these children teaches the other children the importance of skills around patience, around teamwork, sharing, caring for others,” explains Archer.

“We don’t force a pencil in their hand at this age because this has to be strong first,” explains Karen Thibault, gesturing to the body’s core strength.

Karen Thibault is the Director of Green House Village Preschool. She’s been with the preschool since 1986.

“So that’s the famous one right there,” says Archer, pointing to a young photo of himself on the wall of the preschool.

More than 20 years ago, Connor Archer was a student at what was then known as Green House Nursery School. Thibault was his teacher.

“He had maybe three words, i think, that he could speak,” Thibault recalls.

At the age of three, Archer was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“We didn’t have an opening at the time and his mother kept coming,” says Thibault. “And coming. And coming.”

She chuckles, continuing- “Then one day, she just wouldn’t leave. So we finally figured out how we could make it work.”

That out of the box thinking continues today. The preschool is licensed for up to 20 kids and to date, they have not turned anyone away.

“And if that means we have to delve into a whole other issue, then we go to conferences, we go to workshops, we figure out what we need to do to support that child,” says Thibault.

That support includes speech and occupational therapy, board certified behavioral analysts and more.

“It’s surreal that when I was 8 years old, I had this vision- I never thought it would happen. It’s one of many dreams that I’m happy came true,” says Archer, smiling. “Proud of what we’ve done but there’s still more to do.”

Eventually, The Courageous Steps Project would like to open a center- to help kids through their school years as well as transitioning into adulthood.

“To see a lot of my students now have college degrees, they’re out driving, they’re out living their life independently,” says Thibault. “It’s really amazing.”

Watching Archer and all the other students that have graduated in her last 37 years at Green House. Thibault knows they’re on to something.

“i wouldn’t be here still if i didn’t think that it was something special,” she says. “it’s overwhelming sometimes to think that wow- this is special. this is special.”

Green House Village Preschool currently has openings. They accept kids ages 3 - 5.