The Cooperative Preschool:
A 46 Year History of Quality Education
and Early Childhood Advocacy in Boise
In 1969, Jean Bishop and Pat Myers collaborated as St. Michael's church members, to plan a cooperative preschool in Boise. Jean, an early childhood educator, was raising five boys and brought her experience as a parent in a cooperative preschool in Oregon. Pat, with four children, taught kindergarten for many years. The first class started in the fall of 1969 in a basement space shared with the church's Sunday School program. In 1972 early childhood educator, Margaret Arnold, joined the teaching staff, staying for over 15 years to grow and establish the school in the community.
The Cooperative Preschool served as an unintended incubator for early childhood innovation, advocacy and programming over the years. Between 1969 and 1975, grass roots advocacy and a groundswell movement to improve the educational welfare of children in Boise sparked several innovative programs. In 1969 the YWCA, across the street from St. Michaels, agreed to sponsor the new volunteer-run kindergarten program in order to coordinate and expand to ten classes in ten churches, enabling 120 low-income children to attend; St. Michaels housed one of these classes. Mothers in both projects worked to establish three new educational programs in Boise: 1) kindergartens in the Boise public schools - 1971-72. 2.) a political lobbying group, Vote Rockers, to promote state supported public kindergartens (legislation came in 1975) and 3) the first charter school (1972-75) in Boise, Cottonwood Alternative School, for 100 elementary age children.
Parents from The Cooperative Preschool left to form new and innovative early childhood programs over the years. The Children's School and the Early Learners Program at Foothills School of Arts and Sciences were both started by parents who's children attended The Cooperative Preschool.
In 2008, the school and the church parted ways. A new but equally dedicated group of parents moved the school to its current location on River Street in the Bronco Elite building. We now have a large grassy outdoor space and plenty of classroom space that is used only by us! This, however, is not a permanent solution. In the fall of 2015 the school will relocate again.
In 2012 the staff at The Cooperative Preschool started The Idaho Early Childhood Roundtables. This is a self selected group of educators from all over the state. We meet quarterly (or connect through social media) to share research, practice, ideas, success and struggles and support each other in our field. We are currently engaged in a collaborative project called Caps and Lids.
Generations of children have been through the The Cooperative Preschool. Today we have a teacher that once attended the school as well as several alumni parents. Two of our teachers and our administrator have children that attended the school and many of our families have been a part of the preschool with now their third or fourth child. The Cooperative Preschool is a proud and important part of Boise's history and people that have attended or have had children attend feel connected to this community and seem to carry that with them later in life. If you were a part of the school in the past, we would love to hear from you! Please feel free to get in touch, or consider attending the Auction!