LETTER FROM BARBARA
Who is that short gray-haired lady who keeps showing up at Annual Meetings and other Parent Meetings to share the history of Family Cooperative Preschool? That would be me, Barbara Hartrich, parent of two daughters who came to the school from 1988-1993. I discovered the school when we moved to North Andover while pregnant with our older daughter and bought the little house next to the red barn (now a beautiful home) on Osgood St. practically across the street from Edgewood Farm. It felt like fate, even then. Moreover, I was born the very same year Family Kindergarten (the school’s precursor) started – 1952.
Both my daughters loved Family Co-op and their awesome teachers Sylvia and Deedee (the practice of calling them Mrs. Stephenson and Mrs. Roberts came after they “graduated”). But I was the one for whom it became a life-long community and even a calling, gracing me with wonderful friends and colleagues.
I became Chairperson of the Board of Directors in 1993 – asked to fill in for the then-current Chair who said she was stepping aside briefly while her youngest daughter was at the school. Little did I know at the time that I would still be here – 28 years later! I’ve often said that if I couldn’t stay connected to the school by continuing to have more children, the next best thing would be to join the Board.
I have loved working with all the people I’ve met through the years – some who were parents during the first years when the school was a kindergarten and some who are the ages of my own children. What I’m realizing as I write this is that there is a long, long chain of people who have cared about our little school over its 69 years. Those Founding Parents who had a vision. The Charles/Stevens Family who supported that vision – in 1952 when we needed funds to open, in 1981 when we needed a new site after a fire burned down our location in the Old Center, and in 2002 when they enabled us to stay in perpetuity near the conservation protected Half Mile and Weir Hill properties. The outstanding Directors and Teachers – who have held steadfast to the core philosophy of child-centered, play-based learning and parent involvement despite societal pressures, and who embrace the outdoors no matter what the weather. And all the parents, hundreds of parents, who have become part of the Family Co-op community – many from the time they were children at the school, themselves.
Family Cooperative Preschool – since its very beginnings - has relied on fundraising to balance our operating budget so that, among other things, we can offer financial aid and pay off the loan we took when we purchased the school in 2002. In recent years we have turned more to current parents for fundraising. But this year, we are looking to you as well - our long chain of Family Cooperative Preschool supporters - because the need is especially great due to the COVID pandemic. The choice we faced was to close temporarily or operate at-a-loss. We chose to stay open – because the thought of young children (who are only young once) not having the opportunity to play with friends at Family Co-op, under the guidance of our extraordinary staff, was unthinkable. But even with forgivable government loans through the CARES Act, the hit to our Reserves is close to $20,000.
Your support and generosity are truly appreciated! We want to be there for all the future families so that they, too, can become links in an ever-growing chain of people who love that little yellow schoolhouse “on the farm” that we call Family Co-op.