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75 Years Young

El Segundo Co-op Nursery School celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

By Maureen Kingsley

Yolanda Canter and Chris Lubs embrace and smile in the main playroom of El Segundo Co-op Nursery Schoo
Yolanda “Yo” Canter (left) is current president of El Segundo Co-op Nursery School, and Chris Lubs (right) is the school’s director and teacher.

This year the El Segundo Co-op Nursery School, which serves three- and four-year olds and their families, celebrates its 75th anniversary. Originally founded in 1947, “when the whole South Bay was booming and growing” as a result of World War Two-era industrialization, says Chris Lubs, the Co-op’s director and teacher, the school has enjoyed a long history of preparing children for kindergarten and introducing young families to one another.

Left: El Segundo Co-op Nursery School members have maintained scrapbooks of the school’s activities, fundraisers, and press coverage over the years. Pictured here are two pages from the school’s earliest years, 1947 and 1948.

“Our philosophy is to promote learning through play and hands-on experiences,” Chris explains. To that end, the school’s classrooms, located on the first floor of El Segundo’s George E. Gordon Clubhouse in Recreation Park, are full of art supplies, learning activities, games, and toys encouraging cooperative and make-believe play. A typical school day includes self-directed indoor play, “group time,” outdoor play in the park, story time, music, and a good-bye song.

Just as important as the play and education elements, adds Yolanda Canter, current Co-op president and parent of a four-year-old Co-op student, are the relationships forged among both students and their parents at the school. “We are an all-volunteer-run school led by parents,” Yolanda explains. “Director Chris Lubs is our one employee. Our board is all parents, and parents must volunteer at the school one or two times per month, doing some teaching and other jobs as needed.” So while Chris directs the program and creates classroom projects and plans, parents are always present and involved—and as a result, they all get to know each other and form friendships, just as the kids do.

Right: For many years a parent fashion show served as one of the Co-op’s main fundraisers.

“We’re like a family here,” Yolanda says of the parents and kids she’s met through the Co-op. “There’s so much support, which is important, because being a mom of young kids can be isolating.”

Katie Billups, another Co-op parent who will take over as president next school year, adds that the school is very popular and is well known locally through word of mouth from parent to parent. “This is a great community,” she says. “Parents get to know each other, then bring other families in, too.”

Yolanda adds that the Co-op is also a place for parents of young children to get an education in child development. “Chris teaches us so much about how kids develop at ages 3 and 4,” she explains. “We feel reassured.”

The tidy main playroom of El Segundo Co-op Nursery School is silhouetted against an door opening into a brightly lit classroom
The El Segundo Co-op Nursery School’s classrooms for children aged 3 and 4 are located in the George E. Gordon Clubhouse in Recreation Park.

The Co-op typically holds a big “Casino Night” fundraising event in March (with exceptions made this year and the previous two as a result of the pandemic) and additional, smaller fundraisers throughout the year, including Superbowl Squares and yard sales. Casino Night is expected to return in 2023.

Those interested in learning more about El Segundo Co-op Nursery School are encouraged to visit the school online for more information.

This story appears in the May 2022 issue of The El Segundo Scene.

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