The mother, who moved to Sequim about 18 months ago, has been trekking to Port Angeles with her toddler for the Pre-Three Cooperative, a parent-run co-op preschool affiliated with Peninsula College's Family Life Education program.
So about a year ago, Albers got together with five mothers who also were commuting and presented a proposal to Peninsula College officials to open a co-op preschool in Sequim.
"Sequim is growing, there are tons of families here that could utilize it," said Albers, who now is the chairwoman for the Sequim Pre-Three board.
According to Albers, Sequim used to have its own pre-three
co-op, but it disbanded about eight years ago.
The program, which requires parents, grandparents or any guardian to attend the once-a-week preschool sessions with their toddler, is beneficial for the caregivers as well.
"A portion of the tuition goes to Peninsula College and in turn they pay for insurance and college credits for any parents who want to take advantage of it," Albers said.
In short, parents can choose to earn two credits per quarter their child is enrolled and earn a family life degree from the college in two years.
"It's really a great thing, especially for moms," said board member Heidi Krzyworz. "They can pursue education while still being able to stay home with their child."
Each session is supervised by a preschool teacher, who the co-op board is in charge of selecting and paying, and a parent educator, who is provided by the college. According to the board members, the children spend the first hour with the preschool teacher while the parents work with the parent educator learning more about how to work with their children.
"Then, the parents and kids get together and play, do some outdoor activities, things like that," Albers said.
While the board members are elated about the acceptance of the proposal, Albers and Krzyworz say there is still a lot of work to be done.
"Right now, we have been OK'd for 15 kids once a week," Albers said. "Hopefully, if we show that we do have the numbers, we can get funding for more time and children."
The biggest priority, according to the board members, is finding a permanent home. As of now, First Teacher, located inside Sequim Community School, has offered its space to the program, but Albers said they are searching for a location they can have to themselves.
"First Teacher and the school district have been extremely supportive, and we are thankful for that," she said. "If we have our own space, though, we can be more flexible with times and enrollment numbers."
With their own space, the group also can divide the children up by age group instead of having one multi-age group session, Krzyworz added.
As the board's fundraising chairman, Susan Baritelle is hard at work on ideas to garner financial support. She is in the midst of organizing a flower bulb sale for spring, a laptop and cell phone recycling program and a baby fair to be held in early June.
All in all, the board has high hopes for the program, which they all agree is a necessity in Sequim.
"Port Angeles has a waiting list for its Pre-Three program and a good number of those on the list are from Sequim," Albers said. "It's something that is needed here."
The Sequim Pre-Three program is holding an open house from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at First Teacher in the Sequim Community School building. Registration will be available at the open house or by calling Heidi Krzyworz at 582-0287.
To donate money or a location to the program, or for more information, contact chairman Ericka Albers at email@example.com.
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