The Castro Valley Parent Nursery School was founded in 1949 by Mrs. Elaine Johnson. Thirty families participated and donated nearly all the materials and help. This pattern of direct participation has endured over the years and is the hallmark of the cooperative nursery school. Every year, we have a parent or two in the community that attended this same preschool when they were children, reminding us all what a special place this truly is for all. The preschool has an annual enrollment of approximately 53 families and it is frequently necessary to create a waiting list.
The school was first located in two small rooms rented from the Castro Valley Methodist Church. It had five different locations in seven years before its present location. The Parent Nursery School purchased the current property, at 3657 Christensen Lane in Castro Valley, in August 1957. Owning the property means tuition savings for our families since we pay no rent.
There have been 17 different directors between 1949 and the present year. Until June 1977, the school hired a separate Director for the morning and afternoon sessions. Beginning in September 1977, with Mr. Terry Hueffed, the school hired one Director for both sessions. The Director from September 1979 until 2000 was Jean Erickson. She was followed by Ms. Patricia Brohard, who served until 2012. The current Director is Ms. Charlene Giffin.
The school provides an open atmosphere where creativity, learning, free play and the development of social skills are fostered. The school year includes many fun and special events. Some of the most memorable include; the Halloween party; pajama day, Saint Patrick’s Day (the children build a trap to catch a leprechaun as he leaves trails of green footprints and leprechaun gold); Cowboy Day (the children dress up in their most authentic cowboy clothes and have a “trail drive” and ride horses); and the Circus… the grand finale to the school year. The Director creates a show where every child is in an act and parents transform the school into a circus arena including carnival games and treats. Throughout the year the preschool takes field trips related to the curriculum. Children’s Fairyland in Oakland for fairytales and nursery rhymes, the Aquarium of the Bay for sea life, and attendance at local children’s theater productions are examples of such excursions.
Children graduate ready and anxious to start kindergarten with many wonderful memories of the previous two years. Parents create a special scrapbook and photo album, a “Me Book,” for their children. The book contains photos, art, mementos and various projects created during the preschool years to present to the child upon graduation from the program.
The Co-op is all about parents working together to make their child’s first school experience enriching and enjoyable. Ultimately, the children and the parents leave the program with shared knowledge and memories to carry to kindergarten and beyond.