The Founding Mother's Vision and the Early Years

Trinity Cooperative Day Nursery began first in the minds of a small group of women who gathered together in Swarthmore, to discuss women's roles and their current limitations as it stood in fall 1971.

One of their number, Judy Brow, is credited as sounding the cry of creation by proclaiming, "Enough of complaint about societal constraint, we'll damned well do it ourselves! I swear on this copy of Kate Millet we shall have a Day Care Center where the yellowed leaves trace their graceful paths to frosting the earth." Soon after, questionnaires on child care needs were spotted all over the Ville, the needs were assessed and a home was found in the basement of Trinity Church where a Nursery School was already functioning. Mrs. Elizabeth Tolles who ran that nursery school, believed that her facilities and knowledge could be used to create a full time day care center.

Trinity Cooperative Day Nursery, as it was licensed by the state, opened in September 1972. Unlike other centers of it's day, TCDN offered care to children ages 1 to 6, during the hours of 8 am to 6 pm. And there were plenty of options! One could enroll a child for full day, five days a week or half day, five days a week or half or full day for two or even three days a week! 29 children attended in the morning and 26 in the afternoon. Lunch was supplied by Chef Gus of the Village Restaurant and he provided an array of nutritional and fun luncheon meals. Judy Brow was the President of the Board of Directors.

Cooperative was also meant quite literally in the early years. A list of jobs for parents from the first year who were volunteering included such varied things as  "Answer telephone", "Clean up rooms and cap paint jars" and even "Bring in milk from the back door." Volunteers also brought the luncheon meals from Chef Gus to the center, helped to keep the window shades functioning and someone also had the responsibility to stir up the mud in the back playground!

In fall 1973, a new Director began her tenure, Martha Cox, who came from Philadelphia's publicly supported day care system. Scheduling was altered, the part time options were lessened, but not abolished, so the day could be more easily managed. Enrollment numbers remained the same and parent co-oping continued in "an elevated level of logistical difficulty and the drive through traffic often looked like the Walt Whitman Bridge at rush hour." Parents were  expected to contribute 6 hours a year in cooperative help or pay $10.00.

1975 ushered in a new director, Paula Wehmiller, preschool room names were born; Kangaroos, Owls and Butterflies and one of TCDN's essential practices of family grouping began. There was a strong demand for afternoon kindergarten and it took place in the afternoons. Cindy Murray, our current Director joined TCDN in 1977 as a Butterfly teacher. 1978 brought a change in Directors, Anne Kopple,who ran TCDN for 6 years. The first after school program, also, began for 1st through 3rd graders.

Two Decades of Growth and Expansion

The 1980's and 1990's saw tremendous progress, growth and recognition for TCDN. In 1981, there was full preschool enrollment with 36 children. From 1979 - 1981, a small initial group of school-age children grew and in 1982, the decision was made to rent from the Wallingford Swarthmore School District. The first satellite site of 1st-5th grade children became the Swarthmore After School Club (SASC) within the Rutgers Avenue school.

Over the next two decades, TCDN received state grant money for school-age program start-up. SASC moved to within the SRS school, and new programs the Nether Providence After School Club (NPASC), the Older After School Club for 4th-6th grade children (OASC), the Explorers (AM and PM kindergarten complement), the Summer Club, and the Wallingford After School Club (WASC) were added. Additional expansions came with the move of the SASC site to a renovated building on the grounds of SRS in 1994 and the development of an Infant Toddler program in 1995. By the end of the century, TCDN included 7 programs located in 5 sites, and served approximately 250 families.

These years of program expansion were overseen by the long-term leadership of director, Anne Hansen from 1985-2000. Under Anne's guidance, came NAEYC Accreditation for the preschool program and the creation of TCDN's Scholarship Fund, funded by the Annual Leroy Stuppy Memorial Fun Run.

The Last Decade

With the beginning of the new millenium, there were changes, challenges and successes. After Anne Hansen retired, Barbara Quaintenance became the director until 2005, and then Pam Schaefer until 2009. 2007 brought the closing of the Infant Toddler Center, because of financial constraints and a young toddler (1-2 year olds) group was added to the preschool, named the Ducklings. TCDN's hiring of its first fulltime Development Coordinator, Vera D'Ercole, was also a milestone in 2007.

During these years, expansion ended and the focus shifted to increasing standards of program quality. Out of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) in Harrisburg, grew  PA Keystone STARS - a system to ensure continuous quality improvement  in preschool and school-age programs, and TCDN entered the system.

In 2009, 32 year TCDN veteran, Cindy Murray took on the role of Interim Director and was appointed Director in March, 2010. A Strategic Plan was developed by the TCDN Board and we begin the next decade in a healthy and positive position. Enrollment numbers are excellent, financial standing is strong, and we are perched on the path to fulfill our vision to set the standard of excellence in our community as the child care industry adjusts to meet the needs of an ever-changing world.

Click here to view TCDN Historical Time Line

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