Murphys preschool a 30-year tradition

February 06, 2003 11:00 pm

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

The giggles and shouts of small children still reverberate around the old Murphys Grammar School on Jones Street.

Built in 1860 at a cost of $4,000, the two-room schoolhouse served as the area's elementary school for more than a century, until its students moved to the new Albert Michelson Elementary School in 1973.

But the lovely old schoolhouse surrounded by evergreens on the hill remains a place of learning. Now, however, the children are preschoolers.

Murphys Preschool, a nonprofit parent-cooperative, holds classes for children ages 3 to 5 from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from September through May.

From puzzle and painting time to story time and snack time, the kids learn how to share, create and play together, preschool Director Pam Chisholm said. They also take field trips to the Murphys Fire Station to learn about the engines, and to the local music store to learn about instruments.

"The children are curious and eager to learn," Chisholm said. "It's a joy to work with them because they're anxious to please."

Chisholm also appreciates the parents' involvement. Because Murphys Preschool is a cooperative, every parent is required to contribute three hours one day each month.

"They are a teacher's aide during their time here," Chisholm said. "They participate in the classroom and outside on the playground."

Parental involvement is synonymous with Murphys Preschool. In fact, parents began the whole enterprise. Two young mothers, Jeannie Airola and Kathy Grover, started a preschool playgroup.

In the beginning, the playgroup met in the Congregational Church in Murphys. But when the old grammar school became available, the two mothers, along with other parents and kids headed to 65 Jones St.