Over the past 60 years, thousands of tots, toddlers, kiddies and pre-kindergartners have crawled, waddled, and ran through the halls of Jack and Jill Co-op Preschool – the first of its kind in Tacoma.
Started in 1951 under the name of Mason Methodist Co-Op, the pre-school program followed the growing trend nation-wide that made parents partners in their children’s early learning.
Six decades later, there are many co-ops in the Tacoma/Pierce County region, which like Jack and Jill, still partner with Bates Technical College to offer affordable pre-school care with a work and learning commitment on the parents’ behalf.
Jack and Jill in particular has withstood the test of time, nurturing countless children and families through the early stages of learning and parenthood.
On Jan. 21, the co-op invites all past Jack and Jill families, students, teachers and friends for a celebration of the history of the pre-school that is still going strong.
Jack and Jill alumni who would like to attend the school’s 60th birthday party are asked to RSVP with their name, their teacher’s name, as well as the location they attended.
In 1964, the co-op moved from Mason Methodist Church, dropping its original name and adopting the current moniker. The preschool has been operating out of the basement of Grace Baptist Church in Tacoma’s North End since the early 1980s.
“We’ve conjured up a list of alumni, families, old teachers… it will be like a reunion, but we’re mainly just celebrating this milestone,” said Christie Hasbrook, membership chair for the pre-school.
Hasbrook currently has one child, 3-year-old Ryan, enrolled at Jack and Jill. Next year, 2-year-old Blaise will join the family legacy.
Hasbrook and her two siblings attended Jack and Jill when they were children, too.
“I have very fond memories of being here – it was such a fun place to be,” Hasbrook recalls of her time as a tot at the pre-school.
As a parent, she said she appreciates the connection she has with other co-op parents, and the ability to take an active part in her children’s learning and development.
“You get to connect with other parents, and you realize you’re not the only one having problems or frustrations with your kids that day.”
The educational component, which all co-op parents complete to some degree through Bates, is an added bonus.
“The parenting classes at Bates are great. I have become a better parent through the co-op and I’ve gained so many tools.”
Jack and Jill Co-op welcomes children starting at age 2 for part-day sessions two or three times a week.
Family members volunteer to work in the classroom once or twice a month, while they participate in parenting classes and activities monthly as well.
Students are taught through exploration, hands-on activities and play, something that teacher Kim Wilson, an 18-year Jack and Jill veteran as well as former co-op parent, says is key.
“Our philosophy is that children learn through play,” she said. “And parents are the best first teacher for their child…that’s the most important thing for us about co-op.”
Join the Jack and Jill family for a celebration of 60 years from 1-4 p.m. on Jan. 21 at 2507 N. Vassault St., on the upper level of Grace Baptist Church.