Tahoe Community Nursery School celebrates 50 years | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Community Nursery School celebrates 50 years

From left, Trevor Thorne-Trujillo, Zoe Hazen and Emma Brown are among the current crop of students for the 2015-16 year at TCNS.
Courtesy Tim Hauserman |

Look toward the future

Tahoe Community Nursery School is a run by a nonprofit organization that enables tuition to be affordable while keeping the facility well-staffed.

To assist in this effort, come to Family Night Out with TCNS, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 4-10 p.m. during the Magical Memories Holiday Celebration at the Resort at Squaw Creek (when, in honor of Christmas, the resort presents a gigantic gingerbread house which is popular with kids every year).

On that night, the Resort at Squaw Creek will donate 20 percent of all dinner sales back to the school while providing free hot chocolate and free valet parking.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for the Big 50th Anniversary TCNS Party, which will take place during the 35th annual SnowFest! in 2016.

An important part of the festivities will be a reunion of former students. Dates and details still to be announced.

Visit tahoeschool.com to learn more.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The Tahoe Community Nursery School has been a fixture of the North Tahoe community for half a century.

Founded in Squaw Valley in 1965, it moved to its current location at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Dollar Hill, 3125 North Lake Blvd., a few years later.

Generations of North Tahoe kids fondly remember those precious years playing with friends in the sand, camping in the woods, and creating those amazing pieces of artwork that 20 years later still hang on their parents’ walls.

The current director, Angela Bourke (formerly Bruno) has been at the helm for six years, with Laura Stout holding the reins for eight years before that.

For most of its 50 years, TCNS was led by Claudia Jones — or “Mrs. Jones,” as thousands of now-grown-up kids remember her.

Meghan Robins, 29, remembers Mrs. Jones as, “this magical woman who wore a ton of jewelry and flowery dresses.”

Robins wanted to be like her and came to school “wearing these extravagant dresses, all puffy with plastic necklaces,” she said.

My 49-year-old sister, Heidi Wilmott, remembers Mrs. Jones “standing on the top of the stairs of the church, and with a great big smile saying ‘good morning’ every day!”

FOND FATHERS

A primary focus of the school has always been to increase the involvement of dads with the raising of kids, and fathers are the centerpieces of two of the most memorable traditions: overnight camping trips to DL. Bliss State Park, and Dad’s Night.

The camping trip gives kids a chance to spend special time with their dads in the wilderness while enjoying the thrill of sleeping outside in a tent. Dad’s Night, meanwhile, is an evening where all the dads and kids gather together.

Robins remembers Dad’s Night like it was yesterday. She and her dad built a wooden boat, then watched as all the dads put on a skit wearing dog masks, followed by the piéce de résistance: ice cream.

She remembers that one father pulled out a real worm to put on his ice cream.

“I swear that he ate it,” Robins said.

Or maybe Mrs. Jones ate it, as she was documented to thrill the kids on several occasions by eating, or at least looking like she was eating, worms.

Robins still proudly owns that little wood boat that she crafted with her dad 25 years ago.

Years ago, Jeff Hill was a student at TCNS, and now his daughter, Hannah, is in her second year at the school.

“It’s pretty special to have your daughter go to the same school that you went to,” Jeff said. “I remember how warm and welcoming it was with Mrs. Jones, and it still is with Angela.”

Hill feels the play-based learning that is the focus at TCNS coincides well with the play-based lifestyle of the Tahoe community.

‘A MAGICAL FUN PLACE’

Jan Corda was TCNS Board President years ago and recently assisted in its fundraising efforts to sell flower bulbs.

As she sat out in front of the store, she was approached by a steady supply of former students who were all excited to reminisce about how much fun they had during there years at TCNS.

“Mrs. Jones was so fun — she had so much spirit. I loved her costumes and her props,” said Corda.

The school’s second director, Laura Stout, worked with Mrs. Jones for several years before taking over as director when Jones retired.

“TCNS is a magical fun place for kids to be kids! Get dirty, get creative, sing songs and laugh,” says Stout. “I loved my time there and I miss it a lot. I loved working with Mrs. Jones and learning from such an amazing woman.

“The love that I experienced from the community, kids, parents and staff will forever be with me in my heart.”

Bourke says the school is “keeping the traditions that Mrs. Jones started, while moving forward to help kids prepare for kindergarden as well.”

And they do what they have always done: Make being a kid fun. Whether it is movie nights, beach days in the winter, or just playing in the playground, the school believes that kids develop and learn by playing with other kids in a warm and supportive environment.

Tim Hauserman, a nearly lifelong resident of Tahoe City, is a freelance author and cross-country ski instructor whose sister and daughter attended Tahoe Community Nursery School. He may be reached at writeonrex@yahoo.com.