It was around a dinner table in 1977 that Karen Bock, Donna Bennett and Anne Philpot decided it was time for a nursery school in Marmora. Karen was a nursery school teacher, having taught previously in the basement of the United Church, and at the nursery school in Stirling. Anne & Donna, both business people in town, felt they could contribute administrative skills. They approached the United Church to open their basement again to preschool education, and without hesitation the church board was agreeable. The half day classes filled immediately and so began the long career of the Children's Nursery Centre.
After the graduation of the first class in 1978, it was time to formalize with the creation of a board, and incorporation. Sue Brennan, Donna Landry and Norma Rodine were added to complete the board, and incorporation with charitable status was obtained. Success fueled ambition and it was not long before discussions led to purchasing their own property. They each pledged five years of fundraising.
All was going well. Raffles, dances, dinners and the Christmas bazaar all helped to keep the books in the black, then, what seemed like disaster, fire struck over the New Year holiday of 1980. Pipes had frozen and thawed, and a faulty heater, used to dry the wet patches, started a fire.
Back to the drawing board - Donna Bennett, the insurance broker for the school announced the school was covered completely for replacement, and that her architect friend, Detty Pickert, would design the new building, pro bono. Ken Bock again donated his foreman skills, and the building was completed over the summer.
By this time, Leanne Stitt, wife of the principal of Earl Prentice School, had joined the board, as did Leigh Caldwell later.
Licensed under the Ministry of Community Social Services, adult/children ratio was limited to 1/6, requiring 2 parent volunteers per session - a program that worked well, keeping parents involved, children secure, and the teacher assisted at no cost.
First graduating class (1978) - Top row: ____Brownson, Joshua Caldwell, Tony ?, Jason Derry, boy from Belle Vista Motel, boy from Harold Cheese Factory, Middle row: Peter Hellman, Dana Landry, Allison Philpot, Kelli Hewitt, Barbara Glembiski, Matthew VanVolkenburg, Front row: Darryl Bennett, Angela Simmons, Kristin Philpot, Shawn Pascoe
It seemed the nursery school was cloaked in good luck. Redmond Logan's house at 71 Forsyth Street was put on the market at a reasonable price. Anne's husband, Andre, was a lawyer willing to do the legals pro bono, and Karen's husband, Ken was a contractor who would willingly act as foreman to all the volunteers that could be rounded up to convert the house to a nursery school. Janet Lunn ran a summer program at the back of the building as a fundraiser. By Sept. of 1978, the building was ready and the winter program installed, supported by constant fundraising.
First and only graduating class in Logan house. (1979) Top row: ___________ ,Freddie ?, Christina Williamson, _________, ________, Shawn Pascoe Middle row: Darryl Bennett, ________, __________, ? Jacques, Teacher Karen Bock, Front Row: Courtney Wells, Jeanette Rodine, Aimey Merkley, Kristin Philpot, Rodney Tompkins
Graduating class in 1982 in front of the new building. Back row: Scott Davey, Jane Vavolkenburg, ________, _________, Rebecca Taylor, Karen Bock, Rodney Tompkins, ___________ Front Row: __________, Joshua Drumm, Amy Jacques, Adrian Philpot, Tanya Devolin, Courtney Wells
Grant applications assisted with furniture and special needs programs, including a special needs teacher, Sheila MacLean, in 1981. The school continued on an even keel for many years.
Then, to the surprise of everyone, the Hastings Prince Edward Board of Education , in need of extra funding, decided to open Junior Kindergarten. Nursery schools everywhere protested the move as adult/child ratios for 4 year olds would change from 1/6 to 1/25 or more. But the nursery schools could not compete with the free tuition of public school. Classes declined and the budget got tighter. The Children's Nursery Centre stayed afloat with more fundraising but the future was not looking good. The solution was "Day Care" - younger children and longer program hours - something the board was not willing to venture into. Accordingly they donated the assets to the Madoc Daycare Centre, on the understanding they would run a similar program in Marmora, which they have done successfully to date.