2yo-2

Our School

The Williamsburg Parent Cooperative Preschool was founded in 1969 by community and college parents who were intrigued by the possibility of being involved with their children’s education. It is a non-profit, non-denominational, non-discriminatory school run by a Parent Board. After brief stays elsewhere, the Co-op found a home at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where it is regarded as part of the church’s outreach program. The school’s tradition of fostering healthy families and its long-term scholarship program meshed well with the church’s commitment to weekday use of its facilities, and the relationship has continued for nearly 40 years.

Our hallmarks are the unique enrichment of parent involvement, and the liveliness and diversity of our experiential learning environment. Our belief in children’s joy in discovery, and the particular charm added when teachers, children, and parents come together in the classroom, are central to our philosophy.

Our Philosophy

We believe children 2 ½ -5 can be taught almost anything. We choose to create an environment that allows them to teach themselves as much as possible by exploration and discovery, building confidence and competence. We don’t wish upon them a veneer of learning acquired to please adults, but promote self-motivated, practiced listening skills and a love of learning for its own sake.

Just as discipline and courtesy must be internalized to work well, so building blocks of learning must be embraced before more overtly academic approaches can succeed. Lots of pencil and paper tasks lie ahead of them in school. When asked to write something, we want them to have something to write about! Current brain research tells us that children have one minute of focused attention span for each year of age—for tasks not of their own choosing. We owe it to children to help them use their time well, so that they—and we—can be lifelong learners.

Our Staff

Meet the teachers who make Co-op so special.

Molly Gareis

Director and One-Day 2's teacher

I knew from a very young age that my life would be dedicated to teaching and working with children and families. After earning my Virginia teaching license from Old Dominion University with a B.S. in Elementary Education, I began my career as a classroom teacher in the Williamsburg-James City County public school system teaching children in grades 8, 6, and 3.

After my tenure with WJCC Schools, I spent the next eleven years as a stay-at-home mom with my son and two daughters. As a parent, contributing to the education of children remained a part of who I am. For eight consecutive years I was fortunate enough to be a Co-op parent. I loved working in my own children’s classes and I grew by serving alongside the amazing Co-op teachers. During this time I read constantly about child development and parenting, and, eventually I went back to ODU and earned my master’s in Early Childhood Education. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach at Co-op and be surrounded on a daily basis by such wonderful children, families, and teachers.

Children are my passion, and it is my hope that as a Co-op teacher, I will be able to give back some of the invaluable gifts that I have received over the years from Co-op.

Kim Reiter

Two-Day 3's teacher

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. I earned my undergraduate degree from Bloomsburg University in Adult Heath with a minor in Gerontology, and was a member of the field hockey team. After graduating I worked at the Allentown YMCA running fitness programs for adults & youth and truly fell in love with helping others. I left the YMCA to work for KidsPeace for two years before returning to school to earn my graduate degree in Education from Lehigh University. During my three years at Lehigh I was the graduate assistant coach for the field hockey team. In 2003, I began my teaching career. I have taught in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia. The majority of my teaching experience has been in kindergarten.

My husband, Andy, is going on twenty years in the Army as an Aviator. We have two children, Zoey and Daxton. For the past eight years I have been blessed to be at home with our children. I could not have asked for a better place to re-enter the working world. I am so excited to work alongside the talented and welcoming teachers at Co-op. I can also thank my time as a parent at Co-op for opening the door for me to get back into coaching field hockey. I am currently the JV field hockey coach at Lafayette High School, next to Kelley Engstrom, a former Co-op parent.

Lisa Old

Three-Day 4's teacher

I was born and raised in California. I graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara and worked as a reporter and editor in Los Angeles before moving to northern Virginia. I have two children, a daughter, Sarah, who loves horses, and a son, Ryan, who loves making music. My husband, Hunter, is an attorney here in Williamsburg. After having children, I decided to change careers so I studied early childhood education and began teaching preschool.

My favorite age of children is definitely these early years, particularly the 4- and 5-year-olds. I have the pleasure of playing with an exuberant group of boys and girls three days a week, sharing in their delight as they discover the world around them through play. Watching these children learn to play cooperatively with each other, get their hands dirty in arts and crafts, and run wild on the playground makes this the best job in the world.

Shelly Adkins

Two-Day 2's teacher

I earned my BA in English Literature, my Early Elementary Teaching Certification, along with honors and awards in student teaching from Mary Washington College. I spent the next two years as a first grade teacher. The next ten years I dedicated myself to being a stay-at-home mother with my three sons. I then taught one year as a lead 4 year old preschool teacher and enjoyed it immensely.

My love for teaching and passion for education only deepened as I watched my sons grow and I became an active part in the beginning steps of their early education. All three of my sons attended Co-op, and I was lucky enough to serve alongside some of the amazing Co-op teachers. I discovered the world of early childhood education and became deeply interested in child development and how it affects their later careers as life long learners. It is so wonderful to be back home at Co-op.

Sue Barton

Three-Day 3's teacher

Like my Co-op colleagues, I always knew that teaching and working with children was my calling. From the time I was young I spent a lot of time around children and loved helping out in nurseries, preschools and the kindergarten class in which my mother worked for several years. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Pittsburgh. My teaching career began in Williamsburg James City County Schools, and I spent 14 years teaching at the elementary level in both the U.S. and overseas for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools. I have a master’s degree in International Education from the George Washington University.

All three of my sons had the privilege of attending Co-op. My husband, Jim, and I both learned much from the teachers during the eight years that our boys were part of the school. The Co-op community was a nurturing place for our whole family, and we are grateful for the lasting friendships that we made during our time here. I was always impressed by the hard work and dedication of the caring Co-op staff, and I’m honored to be a part of this talented group of teachers. Now I get to share the same kind of joys that we experienced with someone else’s family. I have fun trying to create some of the magic that made my children’s preschool years special.

Emma McMillan

Assistant Director and Four-Day 4's teacher

I come from a business background with various business jobs such as cost accountant. I began my preschool career by substituting at my children’s preschool in Phoenix, AZ. The preschool transitioned into a parent participation preschool in 1986. I was offered a four-year-old teacher position with two parents helping in the classroom. I attended teacher training workshops and classes during my four years in Phoenix. Our family moved to Williamsburg in 1990 and I became an avid volunteer at Waller Mill Elementary where my children attended. I was hired as a Special Education aide for one year before the opportunity to apply at the Williamsburg Co-op arose. I received the 4 day 4’s & 5’s position in 1992 and have enjoyed four-year-olds for 25 years. I continue to attend early childhood conference workshops as well as having received training as an “observer” for Preschool Partners, an organization created in Newport News, VA, to help early childhood programs meet the needs of preschoolers.