The El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative has been around since 1940. To commemorate that long history in our community, we are sharing a series of stories from people who experienced ECPC over the years. If you went to ECPC in years past, as a child or parent, please email your story to marketing(at)ecpckids.com for possible publication on this blog. Thanks!
April Jorden, former ECPC student and parents, current owner/director of Richmond/El Cerrito afterschool program The Kids’ House
When were you at ECPC?
As a student, about 1968. I was probably 4, maybe 3 and 4.
I had a kind of graduation certificate from ECPC that I gave to [former director] Ann and she used it for a number of years. It was a picture of us kids in the room and those huge big wooden blocks were there. I played with those big wooden blocks that I think are still there.
[Note, per Teacher Ann: The original blocks were slowly replaced over the years as they fell apart, with blocks that are the same as the originals. The small wooden blocks have also been at the school through generations of children.]
As a parent, I was at ECPC starting in 1992. I was there with my first child and then again with my third. I was on the board.
That was a trip. I remember coming back and there was some problem that we had fixed when I was on the board there before and I came back six years later and it was coming up again. I was like, “Are you kidding me?” And Ann said, “This is a co-op, this is what it is.”
I met a dear friend at that time who is still my friend. Our children are still really good friends.
What is special about ECPC?
I liked the old-fashioned, play-based curriculum. I liked the fact that there were all these different centers, there was a center for every kid.
If you wanted to swing you could swing, if you wanted to dig you could dig, if you wanted to paint you could paint.
I liked the basic materials for kids just to do what they wanted to do.
And I liked the co-op feel and working with other parents — the feeling you’re part of a community.
I recommend the school all the time. It’s play-based, it’s very child-oriented. There’s something for everyone.
What has changed at ECPC and what’s still the same?
They used to hatch chickens in an incubator. That was the most amazing thing.
There didn’t used to be a lock on the gate and vines covering the fences. I don’t like that now, but I know everyone is worried about safety.
The kids used to trick or treat around the school to each door in the school at Halloween.
One thing that’s very cool that’s still there, is the Christmas tree forest. And the end of the year overnight campout – that was cool, they still do that.