The El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative has been around since 1940. To commemorate that long history in our community, we are sharing a series of stories from people who experienced ECPC over the years. If you went to ECPC in years past, as a child or parent, please email your story to marketing(at)ecpckids.com for possible publication on this blog. Thanks!
Teacher Par, current ECPC AM teacher
When did you start at ECPC? 1985
What’s special about ECPC?
I have learned a lot from the co-op. I’ve learned to deal with the people. You have to accept people the way they are. You never know what happened at their house that day and maybe they don’t feel good – I learned to go and talk to them. It’s not easy to work with the co-op system. You can’t judge people.
In my culture, you had to learn all the formulas. Here, I noticed you can be free. I had to go to school with shiny shoes, clean clothes. Little by little, I noticed we can learn by being free. Learning is not only memorizing and memorizing is not learning. I can see the kids are learning, mixing water, mixing color…
I never learned to say no and stand up for myself. I’m still learning. I’m teaching my students to say no and go talk to the person, because I want them to learn that.
The kids don’t need to learn the ABCs, they’ll learn it when they’re ready. Learning to stand on their own feet and be able to raise their hands and ask the teacher, “I didn’t understand,” “I need this,” or “I don’t like it,” that’s important to learn.
How has ECPC changed since you began in 1985?
The yard wasn’t the same. There was no structure, but metal pipes connected with bungee cords, for climbing on. We could move them around; could make monkey bars.
The backyard was almost empty. Over the years, parents built the structures, play house, loft area. It’s a co-op, so a group does one thing, another group comes and doesn’t like it, changes it – so there are lots of changes.
The telephone booth in the backyard was my idea. One of the parents made it about 8 years ago. He had a plan to have a wire to connect it to the playhouse. But he left and the project stopped.
I’d like to have a gas station with a hose and a car wash next to it.
For the future, I would like to have a younger group in the backyard with two teachers, so parents wouldn’t have to go two different places. This is my wish.