50 years later, nursery school still going strong
Without potato salad – and the 20 pounds of potatoes the recipe called for – Tahoe Parents Nursery School might not have stared 50 years ago.
“We made beaucoup bucks with that stuff,” said TPNS founding member Bea Cook. “I don’t know who worked it out, but it was a darn good recipe.”
The potato salad helped fund the costs to open the school.
Founding member Roberta Mason said they sold the salad from the butcher shop where Longs Drugs in the Bijou Center now stands.
But the salad fundraising didn’t last long: The health department stopped it because the food was cooked in too many different kitchens.
“I haven’t made it since,” Mason said.
Buoyed by the money parents made selling the salad, the nursery school started to become a reality on Jan. 16, 1958, when 32 parents met. Mason said it all started because parents wanted to get their children together for play dates.
From that point on, they busied themselves planning a spring fashion show fundraiser in April 1958, and whipping up potato salad all summer.
By September 1958, they had raised enough money to pay for the necessary equipment, supplies and rent for a space on Fourth Street in Tahoe Valley.
Today, the school is housed at the Al Tahoe Learning Center with 32 children enrolled, said TPNS director Jen Bronken. Because space is limited, the nursery school caps enrollment at 32 kids.
The school is a parent-participation preschool that encourages parents to be proactive in their children’s education.
The school educates preschoolers and also benefits parents, Mason said. She said she has lifelong friends whom she met through the nursery school.
And that rings true for current parents, too.
“It doesn’t matter how old or young we are; we all have a lot in common because of TPNS,” said Jen David, a past president of the school.
Many parents involved with the school have gone on to other roles in education: Mason is president of the Lake Tahoe Community College Board of Trustees, and Wendy David, a past TPNS director, now is on the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board.
And only time will tell how many more people’s and children’s lives will be influenced in 50 more years of operation.