For many local families the Dexter Co-op Preschool is a multi-generational experience passed on to children from parents who were once preschoolers in the co-op themselves.
That Dexter tradition is now housed at Peace Lutheran Church, located at 8260 Jackson Road, after the 40-year-old school for three- and four-year-olds moved from its previous home at a Dexter United Methodist Church outbuilding used previously as an education building, located on Central Street. That building then became the Dexter District Library building, which housed the community’s library before the creation of the current Alpine Street library location. The preschool moved with DUMC to Huron River Drive where it operated until this year.
Peace Lutheran’s builders recently completed the construction of their classroom building expansion this fall, in order to provide classroom and larger meeting space for the congregation’s religious studies and church events and meetings. A grand-opening was held last Saturday during the school’s yearly fall festival.
This is the first school-year that the co-op has operated at its new space. Co-op organizers say they’re eager to fully settle in and begin expanding their programming for the children and their parents, who are heavily involved in the education and overall preschool experience of their co-op students.
“Every family has a job,” said co-op spokesperson Carissa Poroko. “Our board is parent-run and every family has a job that is involved with the Co-op’s basic administration from lining up enrichment guests to cleaning the toys and classrooms to ordering supplies or putting together the yearbook. Our parents also assist the teachers in the classroom.”
The co-op’s 55 students are broken up into four classes taught by teachers Jessica Flaherty (3’s teacher) and Holly Baker (4’s teacher) with no other regular staff aside from the parent-volunteers.
The new classroom spaces are broken up into three separate educational rooms and two restrooms, one restroom within the classroom and one within the gymnasium.
Two of the three educational rooms are classrooms where kids can explore toys, work on their social interactions, and build skills needed for kindergarten.
The third room is a full-sized gymnasium, where the kids have a chance to explore gross motor movement, do giant floor puzzles, ride bikes, walk on a balance beam and participate in the co-op’s guest enrichment programs such as Spanish language, dance, yoga, soccer, music, karate, gardening, and more.
The spacious gymnasium in particular is an exciting new amenity, as is the new playground built with donations garnered by the parents.
“A typical day includes plenty of free play, group activities, individual learning with the teacher, snack and fresh air,” Poroko said. “After coming together for circle time, the kids are broken into small groups and rotate through the three rooms. This way everyone gets to experience all the school has to offer for the day, but in a manageable group size.”
Co-op parents spearheaded the relocation process including touring and interviewing potential relocation organizations, selecting the final location and overseeing plans for architectural design recommendations and the move.
Peace Lutheran was their top choice because of its convenient location within the Dexter Community School District and the opportunity Peace presented to provide input for and occupy a brand new classroom space.
Despite being housed at a church, the preschool program is a non-religious. Those who are interested in exploring the preschool will have another opportunity to attend the next open-house next before enrollment for the 2017-18 school year begins.
For more information on the Dexter Co-op or to schedule a tour, visit www.dextercoop.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for open house dates in the spring.