Mom and Son


Supported life Institute of Northern California Honoree Maureen Kelly:

Supported life Institute of Northern California honored Co-op Director Maureen Kelly on October 5th, 2011 for the work she does with children and full inclusion of children with different abilities in the nursery school. Click Here to read the presentation and the words from Parents.



“I have seldom been so deeply touched by a visit to any school in the world, and I have been to hundreds all over.

The simplicity and beauty are so valuable, yet upon closer inspection, I see so much thought and complexity goes into creating this rich, engaging, and delightful place. I loved “reading” your walls and the rest of the environment.

Your circle time was the most amazing experience I’ve had in a preschool. Your ability to make your Thailand trip and visiting an elephant hospital that specialize in prosthetic legs personal and relevant to the kids and to your visiting alumni student’s real daily experience as a child with a prosthesis was truly genius in action. I’m still in awe and processing this amazing experience. Thank you.

I wish everyone could see the work you are engaged in, and the school you have created for countless families lucky enough to have had their preschoolers attend. What is going on there is a stunning example of what is possible. I believe Early Childhood students should be exposed to the BEST; to be able to imagine what is possible to create with deep commitment, unwavering belief in the competence of children, a very strong educational and experiential background, an immense amount of work and a total dedication to enriching the life of every child and family that comes to your school. You and your team have done just that!!!

I’m very grateful to have had the privilege to visit your school.”

Carole Kent
Napa Valley College, Professor Emeritus and Department Chair, Child and Family Studies Dept. 1976-2001

“Co-op is all about Slow Parenting. In our fast-paced and technology filled world, Co-op is a rare and special place where parents disconnect from their phones and computers and set everything else aside to focus on being with their child.”

Holly Finkelstein

“I often think that parents today are concerned about whether their child’s pre-school will prepare them for kindergarten. To me, the Co-op not only prepares them for school, but for the world. It offers children (and their families!) the opportunity to reach beyond themselves and form lasting connections. I can think of no better place for my kids to have spent their precious early years. My family will always treasure the St. Helena Co-op and it’s teachers!”

Dana Hand

“During his time at the St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School, our son explored his world through carefully crafted, developmentally appropriate play. This is a program where my child’s own inquiry guided his experience. Aidan learned academics and honed his social skills in “real world” based structured play settings. A foundation was lovingly laid, and the end result is a child who is empathetic, socially aware, and a lifelong learner. Since leaving the “porch”, our son has thrived in elementary school, and continues to return for visits. The St. Helena Co-op and our relationship with its teachers and other families has been a gift to our family.”

Randy and Andrea Kingsford, Napa, California

“At the Co-op, Lucio and Lia learned to accept everyone and include everyone.  I think this has proven to be the most important thing they learned in the pre-school years.  Now as a 6th grader and a 9th grader, they really do look for the best in people and encourage the kids who have been left out to join in.  They are very good group participants/leaders, which we attribute to all the community learning they received from the co-op teachers in those early years.  However, if you were to ask Lucio, he would say that the blue bike meant the most to him.  If you asked Lia, she would say the hospital and the inside swing were the best!”

Katie Mondavi

“The best place on Earth for a child. I feel so blessed that my girls were able to attend this wonderful nursery school. It is a back to basics environment where my children learned to play cooperatively with others, find independence in choosing activities and find comfort in other loving adults.  And they learned a great lesson in life…”leave it ready for the next person.”

Debbie Saldivar, Mother of Kelcey 14 and Haylee 11

“Our experience at the Co-op over the last 6 years will be one we will treasure forever.  Through the co-op I have made some of my most special friends.  I have been able to bond and receive insight from teachers and other parents who have similar philosophies on parenting as I do.  My children have learned first hand about patience, tolerance, problem solving, self-reliance, empathy, and self-regulation.  They have had the freedom to explore, discover, and play all in a safe and nurturing environment where their individual personalities and interests were celebrated.  As a parent, my experience at the Co-op has brought me closer towards becoming the “parent” I want to be.  I have learned how to really listen to my children and to remove any preconceived “agendas” I used to have regarding their learning and development.  As a result, I have become much more relaxed and confident about how I parent, and I think my children are happier and more confident too.  The Co-op is so much more than a nursery school.  It is a community of wonderful people that my children and I will always remember.”

Joscelyn Ivanoff

“The co-op teachers have been the best first teachers for our children. They are caring, thoughtful and the wonderful listeners. I heartily recommend the Co-op to families who want to be a part of their children’s education – who doesn’t!!”

Amelia and Todd Humphries

What the co-op has meant to my family and me…

“Nurturing, parenting support, comradely, learning, playing, exploring, second family, endless resource, and my children are now 15, 13 & 11 and still ask “when can I visit the co-op?” The sad part is that I often say ” you’re too busy” or “you can’t miss school right now” Then I shake some sense back to myself and say life is too short for such young children to be “too busy” to do what they love and know they need! The co-op has been such a stable loving; caring place that understands children and what they truly need to grow no matter what gifts or challenges that God has given them. It takes a village to raise a child, I’m so glad to be a part of this “village”.  The co-op has been such a huge blessing to our family, thank you!!”

Sally Alfaro

“The co-op will be the best 3 years of your child’s education.”

“Our four boys devoured the play and hands on learning that was offered. The friendships made at the co-op will last a lifetime, including everyone… kids, moms, dads, teachers, community folks. It’s simply impossible to put into words how the co-op has meant to my family. You won’t find anything like it! I wish co-op were K-12.”

Jennifer Kolbylka

“Our three years at the co-op have provided a wealth of fun, loving, and joyful lifelong memories for our family. My 11-year old son, Sam, still brings up things he remembers about the co-op, and still waves to it every time we drive by. Two of his very best friends today are other children he met in the Saturday program when he was two and we still dig our memory books out every now and then and take a trip down memory lane. I can say without hesitation that our co-op experience has been one of the milestone highlights of my son’s
Quite simply, Maureen Kelly makes magic there!”

Julie Jenanyan, Proud SH Co-op Alumnus

“As a graduate of the co-op, my son had a great eagerness to learn that supports our main goal for him: a lifetime love of learning. As a 1st grader, he is an advanced reader, excited about math and has just written his third book! He sets his alarm clock early to work on writing, which he is truly excited about. I believe that this intrinsic motivation is the greatest force for learning, and it was beautifully fostered at the co-op. The co-op’s developmentally appropriate, child-centered, play-based curriculum was nurturing, stimulating, enriching and wholesome. By being involved as a parent, I got the best parenting education and advice. This framed my understanding of my child, his early development and his future education. By participating in the classroom I got to be a part of some of the sweetest and most memorable milestones of my child’s early years. I am so grateful that I had this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Jennifer Becker

The co-op is truly a magical learning environment where a young child can just be a child.  There were no expectations about their learning but at the same time the 3 years at the co-op prepared my sons to really enjoy learning and exploring as they moved on into the primary and elementary school years.”

“I feel that their time in the co-op, where they learned how to play together and how to view the world around them, resulted in their continued excitement of learning and the joy they feel for school.”

Aaron – 4th grade

Alex – 2nd grade

“It is hard to put it all into to words. Mainly, I feel that the philosophy of the co-op really helped both Aaron and Alex to enjoy learning and being active and well-behaved students in the school community.”

Jeannie Kerr

“As you know so well, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time at the co-op. It is an experience that neither we, nor our children will ever forget. It will continue to be a part of our lives as we carry on some of the many wonderful traditions that we learned there. Friendship, compassion, sharing, and getting involved to make a difference in our community and our world are but a few of the lifelong lessons we will take with us.”

All of our love always, the Battistini Family.

“The St. Helena Co-op experience and memories will live with our family forever.  Not only did my kids start out on the road to healthy, self-discovery and experiential learning, but, as a parent, I have learned more about good healthy parenting because of my experience at the Co-op.  Maureen Kelly is hands down one of the best early development role model a person can ask for.  I’ve learned to slow down, to give my kids room to explore and make mistakes without my interference.  At the same time, I’ve learned how critical it is to provide boundaries and healthy guidance as a way to balance all of these freedoms.  I could have read this in a book, but I never would have truly embraced it until it was experienced from the strong yet gentle guidance that Maureen delivers to everyone she meets. I’m a better parent, wife and mom because of my experience at the Co-op.”

– Lisa Cort (Gage ’03) and Lily (’05) Goldman’s mom)

“Jack’s smile as he emerged each day from the co-op is something that I wish I could have bottled.”

“The most surprising thing about the co-op to us was that it was as much a learning experience for us as parents as it was a rich, creative, and nurturing environment for our Jack.

Catherine Dann

“Co-op was an amazing experience for both my two girls and me. I made lifetime friends, learned wonderful and valuable parenting skills and enjoyed being such an instrumental part of my children’s learning experiences.”

“My two girls blossomed as active learners and became kind and compassionate little people as a result of the co-op philosophy.  They took what they learned at co-op and have become successful, curious and interesting school age children.”

“Thank you goes to the entire staff of devoted teachers and parents who participate so passionately in each child’s development and experiences at co-op!”

Missy Gott (kindergarten teacher, SHPS)

“Without the co-op experience our vision as to what is appropriate for toddlers and preschool children may have been completely different.  We would, most likely, have believed that the only way a child could learn to read was through flash cards, and the only way they would learn math was with flash cards.  As with our current educational system, we may have followed the dictates of a system which requires children to learn information they are not ready for, much too soon in their lives.”

“We learned another way.”

“My son was at the co-op for two years and my daughter for three years.  They were both completely enchanted with their experiences with their peers, the adults, and the teachers. They were both ready for kindergarten when they arrived and excelled both socially and academically.  They learned to be patient and wait for a turn, even though another child wanted to stay on the swing longer.  They learned to love, unconditionally, and be compassionate with other children, some of whom they did not know well or did not know at all (food bank donations, etc.).  They made life-long friends (okay-elementary and middle school friends, now) who they recognize and give hugs to when they see them at the store or at the fair or at a school performance or at a softball or little league game, even though they do not go to the same school now.  We have made life-long friends who we connect with at those same venues and we have long chats and catch up.  We know, if it were necessary, we could call on any of those friends, again even if we don’t see them very often, to give us support when and if necessary.  And they know, we would do the same for them.”

“Our world doesn’t need our children to recite letters or words or ideas.  Our world needs to provide opportunities for our children to learn through experience and thoughtful guidance by those around them.  That is what the co-op staff does every day they spend with your children.  The co-op continues to be a part of our lives as we continually find treasures in scrapbooks and pictures.  It will stay in our hearts forever!”

Debbie Duplantis

“As a working mother of 3, I was initially hesitant to join the co-op because I thought that it would require too much of my time.  After hearing numerous positive comments about the co-op, I decided to give it a try anyway, and I am so glad that I did.  Not only did the co-op provide my daughters with a solid foundation to prepare them for school, but the co-op provided my husband and I with the tools to become better parents.  It was truly an invaluable experience for our entire family.”

Jeanne DeVincenzi

” In retrospect (post high school), you realize that the nursery school was one of the most creative periods in the K – 12 experiences. St. Helena’s MAP program (a Co-op brainchild) keeps it going for a while, but it was never more fun than at the schoolhouse. And yes, if you care, your children can and will get into great colleges.”

“When you’re there, it’s all about the children, the program and the facilities. In retrospect, you realize that it was really about the people; the same parents that you will work with on every committee through high school. Co-op parents are the District’s biggest asset.”

  -Chris Cole

“The St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School is not just a school. It is a life style choice for your family’s growth and development…A choice to foster “FAMILY”. My daughters, now in their twenties, proudly proclaim the co-op as “THE BEST!!!” program, place, philosophy, friends and chosen family we all still cherish. Now is the time to find your life long support group you will rely upon again and again. Please pay attention now and enjoy these times—difficult, challenging and cherished moments you will remember long after they have started their own families!”

“Thank you St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School!!!”

Anne, Peter, Monica and Margaret Nissen

“What I love most about the co-op is that it stays the same. Litto attended from 1998-2001 and Albie 2005-2008. Coming back was such a comforting feeling-the school had changed very little, same traditions, many of the same toys, and of course Maureen, and Christie were still “on the porch” to greet us!”

“In this world of bigger, better, faster; the co-op remains consistent and based on time-tested values: honor the child and learning through play. We all know that “kindergarten is the new first grade” and I believe kids are missing the innocent and joyful experience that it once was. The co-op has that to offer and more.”

Kelly Rios

“Those lazy warm fall days playing outside on the swings with trucks and sand and paint and tricycles. Being pushed up in the sky by those parents who long to give our kids simple childhood memories. Those rainy days in the play kitchen with the colored rice and the blocks, stacked into forts and hiding places. Making birds in a nest to eat for snack and still loving that when you’re in High School! And lastly but not least falling asleep on your elbows as Maureen reads that favorite book of the day…priceless”

Tipp family

“Besides just being a wonderful place “to be’, the co op is a great foundation for our children and their interaction with others. The way respect is “taught” in such a positive, nurturing way makes this quality a natural part of who they are and who they become.”

Lisa Hayman

“The Co-op is the perfect balance of fun and education…the most wonderful combination I can ever imagine finding in a pre-school, or in any school forthat matter.  My children’s experience there was nothing less than magical.  Thank goodness they can still visit, and continue to experience that happy place.”

Carolyn Duryea

The Co-Op is a stepping stone in your children’s education. The community that you build here will be with you through out their school years.”

Laura Behrens

“The St. Helena Co-op Nursery School was one of the top 5 choices of early childhood for our child. Not only did our son learn through play, but we also made adult friends that we keep up with to this day. The Co-op is about community and learning for kids and parents, and it really doesn’t get any better. We have special bonds with everyone we met at that time. We wouldn’t have done it any other way. The Co-op let our son be himself, he didn’t have to fit into a preconceived mold.”

Tracy Mc Bride




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"If a child does not learn the way you teach, teach the way the child learns."

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