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Changing household dynamics lead to closure of Nanaimo’s parent participation preschool

Program ending this month after 48 years
Vanessa Edis, early childhood educator Lynn Macaulay, and Georgina Baumel play at the Nanaimo Parent Participation Preschool site at Beban Park. The school will be closing for good at the end of June. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

The changing economic climate has led to a Nanaimo preschool, built on parental participation, closing for good.

Nanaimo Parent Participation Preschool, founded in 1974 by Pearl Steel, is set to close its doors at the end of June, said Lynn Macaulay, the preschool’s educator. The school follows a model in which parents take an active role in their children’s learning, however, it is time-consuming with meetings to adhere to licensing requirements on top of assisting with children, said Macaulay.

“I’ve been at this preschool 30 years in September and back in the day, I used to have 50-odd families and now I’m down to 10. And the thing is, we’re a non-profit organization, so we have to fundraise and that’s another thing that parents have to do,” said Macaulay. “So there’s a whole bunch of different things; it’s a commitment.”

In addition, she said similar schools in Victoria have after-school programming, but as the Nanaimo preschool rents space, it can’t offer that.

Teri Atherton, preschool president and treasurer, echoes Macaulay’s disappointment. Three of her children have gone through Nanaimo Parent Participation Preschool, but she said with parents’ needs and availability changing so much, what is offered “just doesn’t fit the mould so much anymore.”

“With food costs and gas and rent, people have to work and fair enough,” she said. “I’m going back to work now that my youngest is going into kindergarten, so I’ll be working full time again, too. It’s going to be a relief for us because it’s been a stretch to only be working off one and a half incomes. So I don’t blame people for not being able to do it. It’s just the dynamics of households have changed.”

The preschool has been located at various sites over the years, from Kin Hut at Departure Bay to Brechin United Church to East Wellington community hall, and Macaulay said it is a sombre occasion to cease operations.

“This has been not just a job to me, this has been my life, other than my own family,” said Macaulay. “It’s extremely sad because it just served the community for all these years. The model is dying away and it’s very, very sad the fact that it is closing.”

A farewell party is planned for Saturday, July 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the preschool location at Beban House at 2290 Bowen Rd.

RELATED: Redevelopment pushes out Nanaimo Parent Participation Preschool

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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