We Are Collaborative

This will begin with an 'I' and will change quickly to 'we'. That is the way of the parent cooperative. It is also the way of the parent cooperative to find a need and then work to fill it. From the founding of schools to the digging of a dry creek bed. This story begins with imagine and ends with create. Each day, imagine and create happens in little and big ways. This story is about imagining a dry creek bed and then creating that creek bed. I found a need and we worked to fill it.

Since we installed a stepping stone pathway around the other side of the school, we gained space and discovered opportunities for new experiences. The stepping stones extend from the Children's Teahouse to a second gate that we use to exit the school each class session. Our imaginings - rock garden - revealed a new geography, a new ecosystem. The back of the school has always presented an interesting puzzle of rain drainage. The basement would regularly flood and as each little hiccup was addressed, like the roof, the gutters, etc., another hiccup would crop up, or rather flood down. With all of the building problems addressed, the rock garden introduced a new flooding pattern. Now, rain is an important thing for young children. Mud is too, but the rain would wash and pool around the foundation and over the stepping stones. We needed to figure out a way to direct the flooding.

I watched how the rain would stream and wash over the pathway. The rain would then rush out onto the street and that impacts the Anacostia Watershed. We can't have that! Find a need, fill it. I thought, dry creek bed, and we made it happen. Now the rain water is collecting in a stream and draining and the best part is the children did all the heavy lifting!

About the time the children were digging dirt and dragging rocks, I was elected President of Parent Cooperative Preschools International (PCPI). Just as the story of the dry creek began with a need, this story does too. And it is made all the more meaningful to serve an organization that played an important role in our school's history. One of its founding members, Rebecca Allen, is one of our alumni parents. It feels important to give back to an organization that galvanizes the parent participatory model. The need is there and it is time to fill it.

As President, I hope to look back to its rich history to revitalize the organization and call attention to the cooperative movement and how the early childhood educational community can find the resources they need to support parent and family involvement. To do this, I will need we. If you want to learn more about the cooperative or participatory model, please visit PCPI's website. If you are parent or teacher in a cooperative/participatory school and you are not already a member of PCPI, then please join. If you want to learn about the cooperative movement and the United Nations International Year of the Cooperative, 2012, visit the NCBA. Gather and collect. Imagine and create!