Watertown Cooperative Nursery School Seeking New Home in Town

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Mary Brackett

Students roll out Play-Doh at the Watertown Cooperative Nursery School.

Mary Brackett

Students roll out Play-Doh at the Watertown Cooperative Nursery School.

For nearly two decades, a nursery school with a different approach from most has operated in the basement of a church in Watertown, but now the school is in search of a new home. 

Watertown Cooperative Nursery School began in 1952, and has been in the basement of the Grace Chapel Church on Main Street since 2001. One thing that separates the WCNS from other nursery schools is the involvement of family, said Kim O’Mahony, co-director and teacher at the nursery school.

“Parent participate daily in school,” Cohen said. “They take turns being in the classroom, running the board, helping with maintenance.”

A parent typically volunteers for the day once every three weeks, which also allows working parents to participate.

Mary Brackett, whose son attended the school and now has a daughter there, said that WCNS provides a way to connect to other parents and families, which can be difficult today when people are so focused on their own families and careers.

“Parents need to be friends with other parents,” Brackett said. “It’s like a community (at WCNS), a village raising children. Now everything is singular and individual.”

Abby Cohen, a co-director, teacher and former WCNS parent, said that the friendships made at the school are lasting.

“I was a parent. I knew the families, I knew the kids,” Cohen said. “When I look at Facebook now I see updates from my children’s friends.”

Mary Brackett

The Watertown Cooperative Nursery School has been in a church on Main Street since 2001, but now seeks a new space.

The school also mixes children of different ages, and allows them to focus on activities that interest them. Brackett said she has seen the students learning from each other.

“The younger children are learning leadership from the older children, and they are not thinking that they can only be friends with people who are the same age,” Brackett said.

Last spring, school officials learned that the church was expanding its ministries and would need the basement space. School official realized they would need to find a new home by the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“Ideally, we would like to stay in Watertown,” said Cohen. “We would love to continue to support the Watertown community.”

Mary Brackett

The outdoor space is a big part of the day at Watertown Cooperative Nursery School, because students spend half their day outside.

The school is licensed to have 34 students and currently has 27, O’Mahony said. Students come from Watertown, Belmont, Waltham, Newton, Cambridge and even Somerville and Natick.

Finding a space for a school has not proven easy. They have a number of requirements, including having a bathroom, no lead paint, and being handicap accessible. WCNS seeks a space of 1,650 sq. ft or more, with 2-3 bathrooms, a kitchen area, handicap accessible, an outdoor area of around the same size as the indoor space, and ideally it would be on the first floor and in Watertown, O’Mahony said.

Another major need is an outdoor space.

“Students spend half of their day outside in all weather,” O’Mahony said. “They love to be outside.”

For more information about the school, go to www.watertowncoop.org The school’s Real Estate Committee can be reached by calling 617-924-0225, or email Noreen at hughes.noreen@gmail.com 0r Sivaraman at siva.watertown@gmail.com.

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