What Co-op Means to Me

by added on 20 May 2016, Comments Off on What Co-op Means to Me , posted in Blog
by Susan Carroll

After 12 years at WFP, I’m graduating, which has made me think about what being in a co-op has meant to me.  Recently I was talking to a friend who was looking at preschools for her child and she asked me about co-op.  I happily told her all about it, to which she replied, “Well, that sounds like a lot of work!”  She’s right, of course.  It is a lot of work.  But frankly, so is parenting, and this place has made such a difference in mine.  If my children had any clue how much of a better parent I am after being here, they would write thank-you notes to our teachers on a daily basis.  WFP helped create a foundation that my family has stood on for many years, and one that we will continue to build.

It’s funny how I say I’m graduating the preschool and not my son.  But that’s the truth of it, isn’t it?  This experience has been more mine than his in a lot of ways. I started at WFP when my oldest son was 3 months old.  He’s now 11 and about to venture into junior high!  I truly believe that his early years here helped give him the confidence to do well in elementary school.  And it will continue to help him make good choices in junior high, right?  My daughter sailed through WFP on a cloud of sassiness and spunk and now my youngest son is finishing his Pre-K year.  He’s brought us such joy and so many more challenges than we would have expected.  But through all these years and these three very different children, the co-op has been here for my family.  So, what makes co-op so spectacular?

First, there are the teachers:  Tami, is new this year, but has made an impression on my son.  He knows from her that even on the driest day, you can get wet and muddy!  He delights in coming home filthy and happy.  Then there’s Beth.  Oh, Beth who I aspire to be one day.  I’ve learned so much from her both personally and professionally.  When I was in her classes, the other parents and I would often say during our hardest times, that we were channeling our “Inner Beth.”  We joked that we should have bracelets made that said, “What Would Beth Do?”  Last, but certainly not least, is Cecile.  As Board Chair, there are some weeks when I talk to Cecile more than I talk to my own husband.  However, despite her own intense organization and dedication, Cecile will say to me, “Susan, relax.  It’s only preschool.”  In parent ed. Cecile will say the simplest, but most direct thing that will get me really thinking, truly reflecting.  She makes me acknowledge that obvious thing I’ve been avoiding so I leave parent ed. and think, “Darn it, Cecile, you’re right!  Of course, you’re right.”

Parent education is another amazing aspect of being in a co-op.  How do you explain parent ed. to someone who hasn’t done co-op?  How do you adequately describe the life raft that it can be?  Or the fact that you’ll cry in parent ed. because let’s face it, we’ve all cried in parent ed. at some point.  Well, if you haven’t you probably will.  Because this parenting thing is hard!  So you’ll cry out of exhaustion, or fear, or frustration, or just relief – to get it out to people who are there too and who understand!

And that brings me to the thing that is truly great about being in a co-op.  It’s the membership – it’s all of us.  Some of you I’ve known a long time.  And you’ve seen the best and the worst of my parenting over the years.  Some of you I’ve just met this year and others I’ve only known in passing over the years from various jobs and meetings.  But what’s remarkable about all of us is that we’ve come together to make this co-op an amazing community.  I believe if there were more communities like this, our world would be a much better place.  And I know that even though I’m sad to be graduating, and I know the other parents that are graduating feel it too, we are leaving a very special place, and one that will continue to be special to so many more children and families.

Yes, being in a co-op is a lot of work.  But it’s work that is absolutely worth it.  Thank you for all that you do to make this place so great!