Inside this issue:  
Grant Application Deadlines Approaching | Becoming a Nature Explore Classroom  | Call to Advocacy from NAEYC  | Welcome UCNS  | In Memory of Jean Hillman  | PCPI Annual Meeting

December 2, 2017
Vol. 47 No.10

Cooperatively Speaking
The Latest News from PCPI

As membership applications and renewals have rolled in for 2018, our contact list is being updated frequently.  For many of you this will be the first issue of Cooperatively Speaking that comes directly to your inbox. Welcome!

This newsletter is about our unique cooperative community. If you have an idea for an article, a happening in your school that's worthy of sharing, or an interest that you think others might have in common, I welcome your suggestions, ideas, articles, and photos. Just send me a note at the email below and we'll get started.


Dianne Rose, M.Ed.
Editor, Cooperatively Speaking

Grant Application Deadlines Approaching
Deadlines to apply for several grants are nearly here.  Be sure to send in your applications soon! Here's a recap of what's coming up:
Becky Allen Fund Grant
The Becky Allen Fund offers an annual grant to one or more cooperative preschools to help fund a parent education project.   US based member schools and councils can apply for a mini-grant of up to $500 from the Becky Allen Fund to secure financial support for a parent education project (Canadian members are eligible to apply for the Katherine Whiteside Taylor Grant in the spring). 

Apply for the Becky Allen Fund Grant by December 15, 2017  

Cooperative Spirit Grant
PCPI supports and encourages parent involvement, parent participation and parent education in early childhood education programs. The newly developed Cooperative Spirit Grant provides financial support for schools who have an idea for increasing parent involvement and participation by initiating a project that will make their school a better place for their children and leave a legacy for future classes. 

U.S. and Canadian preschools with direct membership in PCPI are eligible. Member councils may apply for a grant to fund a council cooperative project. The total grant amount is up to $1,500 to fund one or more programs. Apply for the Cooperative Spirit Grant by December 17, 2017

Marika Townshend Travel Grant
The Marika Townshend Travel Grant program helps our members attend the PCPI annual meeting.  The 2018 meeting will be held  in San Francisco,  Thursday, March 8th until midday Sunday, March 11th. Applying for assistance with travel expenses to get to the PCPI annual meeting could make the trip even easier! 
Parents, teachers, directors and board members of cooperative preschools are all invited to join in this weekend of camaraderie and focus on our cooperative mission.  PCPI needs your talent and contributions, and you will take back many great ideas and renewed enthusiasm from this wonderful networking opportunity. 
Apply for the travel grant  by  Monday,  January 8, 2018  at noon Pacific Standard Time (3:00pm EST). 

Becoming a Nature Explore Classroom
by Ginny Hacker
In this era when two year olds know how to swipe on a phone and an iPad is at the end of little arms magnetizing eyes to focus, I feel that it is our job to connect children to each other and the natural world around them.
Here is our story of the REIMAGINED Playground - past and present - at Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery School & Kindergarten:
Meridian Hills Nature Explore Classroom Dedication
The Nature Explore Classroom is a collaborative program of the National Arbor Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. Well over a year in the planning, we are proud to be the first school in Indianapolis, Indiana to receive this designation.   More can be found at   The 10 required areas for certification are noted in italics throughout this article.
Without the support of our host, the First Congregational Church UCC, becoming a Nature Explore Classroom would not have been possible and we are very grateful.
Meridian Hills Nature Explore Classroom Dedication
raised garden area called The Sensory Garden includes a walking path around pla nts for smelling, touching and a rainbow of flowering plants for the eyes. Herb garden planters are placed near the entry of the lower level indoor classrooms to allow easy access for cooking and keep all edible plants in a well-defined area.
All new plants and flowers are native perennials and include plants and bulbs that were chosen based on how children could interact with them or use them for various art and science experiences. Sticks, leaves, flowers and seeds first studied under microscopes become paintbrushes used in artistic creations through the school year.
To address the rain run-off from the parking lot, the dry creek bed (The Creek) was built to address erosion down the hillside and includes a water pump. Generous parents built new outdoor acrylic easels (Nature Art Area) and herb planter boxes handcrafted from cedar for the natural resistance to moisture and pests.
Meridian Hills Nature Explore Classroom Dedication
As the shaded playground has evolved over the years, elements were added to fit into the natural beauty of the sloping landscape. A sidewalk in front of storage (The Sheds) encircles a large Sweetgum tree and is a favorite big wheel and trike path that opens to a large patio area for picnics and art projects in the Nature Art Area. The new dry creek bed follows one side of the hillside while the rest of the hill (The Hill) is a favorite for big wheels and winter sledding. Wood planks, tree blocks, and tree cookies are housed in our storage area (Hilltop Construction) next to a large sandbox. The Neighborhood has a little cabin, a mud kitchen and a fire truck for imaginative and messy play. Outside the playground is the Forest Kindergarten for the gathering of our kindergarten class one afternoon a week, rain or shine.
Meridian Hills Nature Explore Classroom Dedication

The commemorative 50th Anniversary Brick Pathway divides the grassy hill from the newly established bird seed and herb gardens and the area called, Music by the Magnolia with wind chimes, a large wooden xylophone and disassembled drums for play. The area leads down to the Nature Art Area patio. Mulch defines the safety areas around six (6) swings and a tire swing, and all climbing all areas. Day lilies line the chain link fence to discourage climbing and provide a border of flowers and greenery between the playground and the parking lot.
Meridian Hills Nature Explore Classroom Dedication
To make this entire idea come together, we planned a fundraising effort to honor a beloved former teacher and director. We dedicated our "REIMAGINED Playground" to Shari Robinson who passed away in the fall of 2015. Shari was a nature and art lover, and after teaching for 25 years and retiring in 2000, she remained involved with the school by inviting classes to her home for fall nature scavenger hunts and to make cider from her vintage cider press.  As a watercolor artist, she returned annually to visit classes to lead individual and still life class projects. We raised an historic amount, nearly doubling the original goal of $5000. Her family and many former families made gifts of money and plants to make the upgrades and to restore her iconic cider press.
Meridian Hills Nature Explore Classroom Dedication
The additional summer workdays were well-attended and included a long-time friend of Shari and her two daughters and one granddaughter who came to weed, dig and transplant alongside the current staff and parents. Plants from Shari's home now sit in the new Directors' Corner Garden, situated between the school entrance and the (Welcome) welcome archway framed by woven willow branches to the playground. In the 57 year history of the school, there have only been three (3) to serve as directors, two past (Dessie Partenheimer Koch and Shari Robinson) and one current, Ginny Hacker. All three women were co-op parents, teachers and directors at this school and plants from the other two women's homes join Shari's.
Meridian Hills Nature Explore Classroom Dedication
A dedication of our new Nature Explore Classroom took place on September 23, 2017 at the annual Fall Picnic. Current families, staff, alumni donors and friends of the school came together, drank apple cider from her press, and celebrated our newly renovated space honoring the legacy of Shari Robinson. A commemorative limestone marker at the toe of the Welcome Gate marks the dedication:

Our REIMAGINED Playground is dedicated to MHCNS&K's
beloved teacher and director, Shari Robinson.
Make sweet memories and take them with you when you leave.


The author, Ginny Hacker, is the Director of  Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery School & Kindergarten in Indianapolis, IN.

A Call to Advocacy from NAEYC
by Lauren Hogan
Your voice matters. It's as simple as that. And at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), we are focused on creating equitable opportunities for you to elevate your voice and your advocacy efforts. Through the collective Power to the Profession initiative and the America for Early Ed campaign, NAEYC is making space for you to engage with your colleagues, parents, and friends to share your ideas, talk about your experiences, and connect with your policymakers. Everyone involved in these initiatives is working together to define the early childhood profession by establishing a unifying framework for career pathways, knowledge and competencies, qualifications, standards, and compensation, while growing the demand for a financing system that supports equitable access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education for all children birth through age 8. And we can't do it without you.

You know that the first years of a child's life are the period of the most rapid brain development and lay the foundation for all future learning. You know that high-quality early childhood programs deliver a return on investment that outpaces average stock market gains. You know that high-quality early childhood education depends on high-quality early childhood educators who ensure that children, supported by families, have the early experiences they need for a strong foundation.

Voters know this too. Polling continually demonstrates high levels of support from the public for investing in early childhood education across the demographic, geographic, and political lines that too often divide us. NAEYC's own polling shows that voters see early childhood educators as heroes, on par with firefighters and nurses. Yet the theoretical valuing of your work has not yet translated into the literal valuing of your work-through significantly increased investments in early childhood education and increased compensation for early childhood educators to improve quality care and education for kids.

Changing this reality is neither simple nor easy. But it is necessary, in order for our country to deliver on the promise of high-quality early learning for our children, families, educators, and economy. Each of you must choose to mobilize, taking advantage of the resources and support that organizations like NAEYC and others are offering. Each of you must help us make our collective voice powerful enough to ensure that our nation's policies catch up with the science behind the importance of early learning, and the benefits of investing in educators who are qualified, supported, and compensated for the complex and demanding jobs you perform.

We look forward to having you - and your voice - in the conversation, sharing information, accessing resources, getting involved, and joining the movement!


The author, Lauren Hogan, is the  Senior Director for Public Policy and Advocacy for NAEYC.

Hello to UCNS!
Welcome to our newest member school, UCNS , located in Ithica, NY.   Founded 1970, UCNS began as a program on the Cornell University campus, but now serves the entire community.   UCNS participates asa Universal Pre-K Community Partner with the Ithaca City School district

In Memory of Jean Hillman
Jean Hillman, a towering figure in the cooperative preschool movement in Michigan, and a supporter and Honorary Life member of PCPI, passed away August 14th.  Jean was a founder and teacher at  Memorial Presbyterian Preschool (formerly  Presbyterian Parent Cooperative Preschool), where she taught for 38 years.  In her retirement, she continued to be actively involved with education of young children in her community through volunteer work at Whiting Forest, inspiring an article to be published in the Midland Daily News.

Jean is remembered as a passionate teacher and learner who engaged children through creativity, music, and the arts.   The Jean C. Hillman Scholarship serves as tribute to Jean's many years of service to the Memorial Presbyterian Preschool.

PCPI Annual Meeting in San Francisco
The 2018 PCPI Annual meeting will be held in conjunctio with the California Council Of Parent Participation Nursery Schools 2018 Convention  March 8-11, 2018
CCPPNS Convention details will be available soon.  In the mean time, you can follow their Facebook page to stay up to date with announce ments and get a preview of convention activities.  Hotel booking is open.

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