Though I had grown up in the Griffin area, I found when we moved into our half-finished new home in 1971 that I really knew very few “younger” people. So when Mrs. Groeschell, Scot’s kindergarten teacher, mentioned that there was a group of mothers interested in starting a preschool, I was curious — even if Greg was only twenty months old.
It was in the days when Evergreen-State College was just getting under way and there were many new families of staff and faculty moving into the area. They were accustomed to a more urban life style and missed having next-door neighbors and organized opportunities for young children. In a matter of weeks a group of women were meeting semi-weekly in homes, exchanging experiences with preschools in other areas, talking philosophy of childrearing, drinking coffee and just getting acquainted.
I believe it was Sandy Nisbet who first met with Griffin principal Eunice Carter, to present our proposal for utilizing the unused portable building behind the school (now one of the maintenance sheds) to house the prospective Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool Permission. The request was granted by the Griffin school board.
Now the work really began! We started moving out lumber scraps, broken chairs and miscellaneous “junk”. Then came the cleaning, painting and decorating. (Greg always did like having the left-over Winnie-the-Pooh wallpaper from his bedroom in the new “story comer”). Soon appeared the block area, painting place and housekeeping space all furnished with donated items from members and the supportive community.
It was time to get the fathers involved. The outside play area was their project. As with everything else, it was done on shoestring. There was a sandbox, a jungle-gym made of used tires bolted together, the ever-popular old wooden rowboat, and the low, peeled-pole territorial fence that doubled as a balance beam. It was as much to keep our little ones in as to keep out the curious grade school students.
We now had a name, bylaws, a building, two teachers, two sessions of eager students and many involved parents. It was March 1972 and school was open! Out of those six months of hard work had come new friends, new parenting skills, new opportunities for our children and a legacy of learning and laughter for years to come.
By Marilyn Calkins
Reprinted from the March 1999 issue of “Neighbors”, the newsletter of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. This is part of a series of articles reprinted from earlier publications in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.
This Saturday, August 8, from 10 AM to 12 noon, Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool will host an Open House. Interested families can meet Teacher Alex, tour the classroom, see the new play area, and chat with other preschool families!