Ocea Goers

Oak Bay co-op preschool encourages parent participation

Annual silent auction fundraiser happens this Saturday at St. Mary's

Parents in the classroom is not just the norm but expected at Oak Bay’s parent-owned preschool.

The co-op preschool is holding its annual fundraiser this Saturday (Nov. 16), with proceeds going towards maintaining this unique and affordable educational model.

Parents are expected to volunteer for various jobs and assist with classroom activities, under the guidance of a paid early childhood educator.

Kirsten Pite, preschool president and a mother of two, said the fundraiser is critical.

“We rely on it a lot,” she said. “It’s one way for us to keep tuition cost low. Everybody should be able to get an awesome education for their children, regardless of their income.”

Parental involvement in a child’s early education and the ability to get to know other kids and parents appealed to Roy Brooke, whose son Nathan, 3, is enrolled.

“Next to homeschooling, there is no other hands-on way to be part of his (educational) life,” he said. “With this model, we own the school, in effect, through our work and effort.”

Brooke is co-ordinating the fundraiser, while his wife participates in three “duty days” a month, in which she volunteers as a teacher’s aide.

Having parental involvement in the school’s operations creates a close-knit community, Pite said.

“You are suddenly in a community of like-minded people who are in a similar stage of life with young children. All of a sudden you have a new group of friends and people you can rely on.”

The preschool, one of 14 similarly run schools on the Island, has operated in St. Mary’s Church for more than 40 years and offers options for children aged two to four.

The preschool’s goal is to raise $10,000 at the fundraiser to help cover operating expenses.The festive event will have live music, appetizers and a cash bar. Some of the items up for bidding include luxury hotel stays, framed artwork and gift certificates for restaurants, various events, services and travel.

The silent auction happens from 7 to 10 p.m. in the upper hall at St. Mary’s Church, 1701 Elgin Rd. Tickets are $10 and available in advance only at silentauction.oakbaypreschool.com.

The preschool also runs a Christmas tree sale fundraiser in December. For more information visit oakbaypreschool.com.

reporter@vicnews.com