As we begin our 58thyear of teaching children and parents at MHCNS&K, this recently republished 1993 article in the August 2018 Cooperatively Speaking newsletter for PCPI (Parent Cooperative Preschools International) lists the reasons why I have long maintained a core belief in cooperative preschools.
Lest you turn away from the “old” 1993 advice, (ha!), please read on.
I know we sometimes miss these marks because after all we are human, but we at MH strive to incorporate and live what we espouse:
Everyone is Included
It’s never assumed that someone won’t be interested, always extend the invitation to all.
Feelings, concerns, and motivations are discussed openly.
Participation is Universal
People are encouraged to contribute in whatever way they can: there are guidelines but also some flexibility. Members are comfortable enough to participate beyond their responsibilities.There are MANY ways to engage within the MH community, some of those are required (ex. classroom participation, group meetings, committee work, workdays), but others are social and educational in nature, (ex. general playdates, parent education nights). Plus there will be manyfundraising opportunities (ex, auction, t-shirts, annual fund, Read-a-Thon, profit-sharing), but it is expected that you participate as you are comfortable.
Understanding is Encouraged
Everyone tries to focus on issues, not personalities; to look at the other side; to be prepared to consider others’ priorities and feelings.Another way to look at this is that we strive to be non-judgmental in our quest to make all children andparents learn and grow with teachable moments.
Appreciation is Obvious
Group members, board members and staff recognizes each other’s contributions, and there is tolerance for mistakes and other methods.I have frequently advised that in a board leadership position often as a first time volunteer, you may fall but you will “fall soft” because helping hands will be there to reach out and lift you up.
Support is the Norm
Once a decision is democratically made, regardless of initial disagreement, it is supported. There is support for each other, the board, and the teachers and his/her program goals. Definitely more absent than present these days in our political climate, but is this not one of the foundations of democracy? We encourage open discussion and while we don’t always agree, we respectfully discuss, vote, and work with the majority.
Resolution is Key
Conflicts are dealt with. There is a problem solving process. You will notice in this coming school year a re-emphasis on daily, end-of-class conferences with the teacher and that day’s participating parents. Five minutes of what our family dinner conversation used to call “pits and cherries” will help your understanding and growth in conflict management within the classroom and on the playground. My goal is to lessen the unhelpful “parking lot chatter.”
Communication is Effective
Opportunities abound for communication. Productive meetings, social occasions, newsletter, bulletin boards, and opportunities for two-way communication. Links and friendships have opportunities to form. I would also add constant! You will hear weekly from your teachers and regularly from board leadership and committee chairs on Rallyhood. Pictures that will make you smile will be posted in abundance. You will also hear from me in a monthly blog that will appear in Rallyhood, on Facebook and be posted on the MH website.
Enjoyment is Crucial
There is time, motivation, and opportunity for enjoyment and the establishment of good member relations.My 3 point philosophy for volunteers is: 1) your volunteer time is valuable, so we will start and end meetings on time; 2) you will learn new skills; and 3) you will enjoy your time with us. If these don’t materialize for you, you may choose one of the many other preschools in Indianapolis, but I would rather keep you here learning, growing and sharing the joy of our little school.
Some things old are new again. (1979 and 2018 attached pictures)
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year at Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery School & Kindergarten!
Best in parenting,
Ginny Hacker, Director