By Melanie Williams-Galuten
Wind your way into peaceful Rustic Canyon and you will discover a sweet old-fashioned preschool delivering fun and magic filled days to the lucky preschoolers who get to hang out there.
It has been that way for the past 69 years. In this busy age of, well, ‘busy’ it’s nice that there is still a warm, comforting, grounded soft landing for the next generation to get their bearings before navigating their futures.
Rustic Canyon Nursery School is what preschool should be.
Family run by Eve Pontius and her daughter Jennifer Kearney, this wonderful community coop program provides fun and educational days filled with exploration, learning, playing, art, and more. Every child heads home happy, tired and full of stories after a big day. Also they most likely will have something hand-made in tow, a treasure discovered in the grass or perhaps an art project involving an egg-carton or something equally ‘old school’.
Oh, and it isn’t just fun for the kids. More than ‘just a school’ Rustic Canyon is home to a warm, inviting community where lifetime friendships are formed. Throughout the year families get together for festive dinner parties and other school events. The annual and well-loved “Pasta Party” just celebrated its 25th year. There are lots of fun family inclusive events throughout the year. Halloween is an adventure, Thanksgiving is very special and each year some Leprechauns mysteriously arrive in the wee hours of the morning leaving sparkling green footprints for the kids to discover on a magical day in March.
Co-director Jennifer is enthusiastic about the close family connections made at the parent-participation school, “It’s a really a special thing. In a small school you really get to make close bonds and memories of people who are sharing a really important period of time with you. You go from being a parent of your own child alone and then you meet all these other people who are going through the same thing as you and it’s nice to have that support system. And because we are a coop you get to become really close with everybody. The parents know all the kids and the kids know all the parents and so everybody is kind of bonded in a special way.”
Most importantly the kids learn a great deal more than just their ABC’s. Jennifer points out, “It’s about learning to be away from your family and gaining that independence. It’s about learning that you can be self sufficient and learning that school is a fun place to be. Our kids graduate with the feeling that, ‘I really like school, I like to be with my friends, I like to be with my teachers, I like learning.’ ”
Jennifer pauses and adds, “It’s really a special, special time.”