Countryside child care centre awarded for longevity, excellence

Countryside Preschool wins provincial awards for taking care of Peninsula children

Countryside Preschool has a lot to celebrate as it anticipates its upcoming picnic wrap up. Two recent awards recognized the longevity and excellence of the care centre at St. Stephen’s Church in the Mount Newton Valley, one for the school itself and another for the teacher.

“It’s a co-op so you feel a real community here,” said parent Rachel Fisher, who also serves as treasurer. “We all help with the school.”

On May 11, Countryside got a 2012 B.C. Child Care Legacy Award that recognizes child care facilities which have been serving children and families for 40 years or more.

It earned merit for four decades of service since its inception and Countryside will also celebrate 40 years at the St. Stephen’s site next year. For the last 10 of those, Nancy Dobbs has led the little two- to five-year-olds in song and play.

“I’ve really enjoyed the parent participation, building community. It’s really hard to find in this day and age,” Dobbs said, espousing her appreciation of co-op schooling. “We can share what we know about early childhood and preschool education.”

Parents wrote in to get Dobbs a B.C. Child Care Award of Excellence. The award recognizes outstanding contributions made by child-care professionals, innovative individuals, organizations and local governments who support child care initiatives in their communities. Award recipients were chosen by a selection committee made up of individuals knowledgeable in the child-care field and ministry representatives.

“She’s done such a great job. The kids love her. It’s really her calling to do this,” Fisher said. She was among the letter-writers from Countryside to nominate Dobbs.

“It’s been mutually rewarding,” Dobbs said with a laugh. “I got into education for love of children.

“I love the setting,” she added, passing a hand toward the valley behind her. “Community, music and connecting with nature – that’s the biggest values at our school.”

Each year the Countryside community celebrates year end with song, dance and dinner on site in a field beside the historic St. Stephen’s church.

“We all run a big fundraiser at the end of the year,” Fisher said. “It’s great fun for families … and it’s our big fundraiser. We rely on it.”

Countryside’s annual picnic dinner and dance is June 9. Once Upon a Picnic runs from 3 to 7 p.m. at 7921 St. Stephen’s Rd. (off Mt. Newton X Road) with entertainment by Water in the Crawlspace. It will include a silent auction, bake sale, crafts games and more. Tickets are $15 at the gate for adults and $5 for children aged four to 12, those aged three and younger are free.