Join the fun
What: Davis Community Church Nursery School open house for the Early Explorer Program, designed for ages 15 to 24 months
When: Noon-1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27
Where: DCCNS, corner of Fourth and C streets
Watching her children climb on the play structure under the broad shade tree at Davis Community Church Nursery School brought a huge smile to Christine Watts’ face recently. She remembers playing in almost the exact same spot nearly four decades earlier on a big old tractor that served as the play structure in the early days of the school.
It is a full-circle experience for Watts as she prepares her fifth child to enter the same classrooms where she laughed, played and learned as a young child.
“It has always felt like a second home to me and my children, so I’m looking forward to Bronwen spending time at DCCNS,” said Watts, who was one of the first students at the preschool that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Today, there are some 60 children attending four different programs for ages 15 months to 5 years, but for that first September session all those years ago at the fledgling preschool, there were only four children. By January, there were six. And when the school opened for the second year, it was with 20 children for a morning session, expanding soon after to encompass an afternoon program.
From the start, building a sense of community and caring was a guiding force for DCCNS, a nonprofit organization run by a board of directors made up of school parents.
“There was a group of parents and grandparents in the church (Davis Community Church) who believed that a good nursery school experience that involved families in the learning process recognized something important about us as a human family,” remembers Sandra Lommasson, one of those who helped create DCCNS and then became its first director.
“Parents and children learning together was a definite value from the beginning, because this group recognized that we need one another to grow — and are always ‘unfinished’ and in development,” she said.
The church remains very committed to the preschool and the community at large.
As a parent cooperative, DCCNS benefits greatly from strong parent participation in both the classroom and in program development.
“The goal remains the same: to create an optimal family learning environment during the preschool years,” said Liz Allewelt-Smith, whose sons attended DCCNS. “Even after 40 years, we are so grateful for the support we are able to provide to, and the support we receive from, Davis families.
“The DCCNS experience has really affected our lives as parents,” continued Allewelt-Smith, who is now the head teacher and director of the preschool. “The majority of our teachers are former parents and we recognize the significance of the parent connections we made as parents in a co-op as watch our own children and those we are teaching grow.”
The preschool was established as an educational outreach of Davis Community Church into the community and was intentionally wide in its welcome.
“While the DCCNS curriculum is guided loosely by a Christian philosophy, no Christian doctrine is taught,” said Lommasson, adding that central to the mission of the preschool is the creation of an environment in which families from all backgrounds and traditions feel comfortable, welcome and respected.
For 18-year-old Paul Mohr, who learned about giving back to the community watching his mother donate time and energy as both a parent and now a teacher at DCCNS, it seemed a natural setting for his Eagle Scout project.
“I knew the school had wanted a stage for a while and it looked like a challenging project, so I stepped up and volunteered,” said Mohr, whose stage debuted in the school’s playground last February.
He has enjoyed watching the stage he built for the yard where he played as a child become a gathering spot for DCCNS families.
“Going there as a kid, I wanted to give back, so the project would have a real personal tie.”