school has offered a teacher-guided, parent-involved, activities-driven learning environment for preschoolers ages three to five. The driving force for the last ten years has been Bonnie Jacques, affectionately referred to as Ms. Bonnie.
“My role in the class is to call the activities, giving the kids a variety of experiences, academically, socially, emotionally, and physically,” Bonnie said. “The parents’ role in the class is to engage in those activities.”
Bonnie’s fascination with babies has been with her since adolescence and she always played teacher growing up. It wasn’t until she took a child development class at Michigan State University that she recognized her professional calling. Bonnie walked into Saline Co-Op with 12 years of teaching experience and looking for a new challenge.
Honesty and observation
“My favorite part about working with young children is their honesty and worldly observations,” Bonnie said. “Working in an environment where you are always being observed encourages you to reflect and evaluate daily and has made me a better teacher.”
The nonprofit Saline-based school is operated by member parents and an elected school board. Parents volunteer their time to run the school efficiently on a rotating schedule. They spend, approximately, one full day per month in the classroom, giving students time to learn how to separate from them.
“Co-op is unique in the way that it’s reasonably priced because parents are working in the classroom and they tend to be more involved, which is a healthier environment for the children,” she said. “There are a lot of good Head Start programs for young children, but Saline Co-op makes it reasonable for parents with young children to provide this educational experience without taking a big bite out of their wallet.”
Three age related programs
The three programs Saline Co-op offers are divided by age and playtime. Three-year-olds attend “3am”, four-year-olds attend “4am”, and four and five-year-olds who will attend kindergarten the following year enroll in “Kindergarten Readiness.”
All programs focus on socialization and conflict resolution, while “4am” and “Kindergarten Readiness” include numbers and other cognitive lessons.
“Kids attending Kindergarten after experiencing our school tend to have a better understanding of what’s expected of them. They take responsibility for their personal items, they have better self-confidence, and they’re familiar with the environment and the process of attending school,” Bonnie said. “I’m fascinated with the way children learn and I love helping them see all the possibilities that this world has to offer.”
6299 Saline Ann Arbor Rd., Saline. Saline Co-op’s tuition rates are based on total
enrollment annually. www.salinecoop.org.