Westchester Parents’ Coop (soon to be known as Westchester Parents’ Nursery School or WPNS) was founded in December 1950 when 11 families organized a backyard playgroup, elected officers and set up a cooperative constitution. In the beginning, WPNS had different homes, including backyards, local churches and the Westchester Recreation Center. One rainy day, a family member, who was also a member of the Congregational Church of the Messiah, took pity on the kids and parents playing in the rain. They invited us in…and we never left. Although we have no religious affiliation, we continue a good relationship with the Congregational Church of the Messiah.
Our school originally was housed in the very front rooms of our current location. Soon after we added the office and in 2009 we expanded our enrollment to 34 families and added the back two rooms. In 2014, we added another room, which we call the nursery, to accommodate our growing You & Me program.
As a non-profit, member-run school, fundraising has always been an important aspect of WPNS. We held our first fundraiser, a theater party, in December 1955. Historians proudly noted a profit of $84 from this successful event. By 1961, the international themed dance held at the Inglewood Country Club raised a little more than $200. WPNS’ first purchases included a Hectograph machine, train set, cradle and puzzles, as well as sawhorses and chairs. Parent volunteers built easels and shelves in the shed. It was also reported that parent Mr. Felburg varnished the blocks and built a dolly.
To this day, we continue to hold fundraisers and utilize parent volunteers. The extremely good news about our current fundraising is that we have far surpassed our founders and raised (a lot) more than $84 this past year!
Our last fall fundraiser was the sale of notecards with art from WPNS students. We also held a very successful Spring Fun Drum festival in April that included a drum circle, face painting, photo booth, silent auction, bake sale, food from Casablanca and more. Throughout the year, we also have fundraisers through Mabel’s Labels, Panino Wraps, Scholastic Book Club and Planet Box, a well as selling WPNS t-shirts and sweatshirts, magnet bumper stickers and travel mugs. See our store.
As our founders did, the funds raised and parent volunteer hours directly benefit the children through improvements to the school. Over recent years, we have added a fantastic play structure, renovated the bathrooms, added an outside clubhouse and drama room loft, and built student cubbies through our active and successful fundraising. This year our fundraising money was also used to obtain more space for our You & Me program, paint a number of our classrooms and add some new play equipment.
Parent volunteer hours are still very important to WPNS. In recent years, a parent obtained a grant from Home Depot, which was used to put in new decking at no cost. A group of parents also spent a Saturday this past Spring clearing ivy to make room for a swing area that will be built next to the path to the bike yard.
WPNS: Then & Now
from 1950…through the 70s…and today