Just like our son Calvin, Papoose was born at home.
Dana and I met in 1993, in the Arizona State University’s pilot teacher training program. For me, it was love at first sight. Dana, being pragmatic, was a little more reserved. I did eventually win her heart and we’ve found over the years that this combination – passion and pragmatism – has made for a pretty good team!
But we both had a very real passion for teaching, and a strong interest in whole child development. ASU’s innovative teaching training program incorporating current brain research, whole child development and experiential education, and taught by master professors to only 28 undergrads, was the perfect place for us. While finishing the program, I spent a year student teaching directly under my mentor, Linda Sheppard, Dana worked at L.A.T.C.H., a state-run school for emotionally disturbed children.
After graduating, we took two years off to travel and explore Caribbean and South American cultures… and tie the knot! Finishing up our travels, we returned to Arizona and joined in union in 1998.
Now officially a team, we were both hired at Valley View Elementary school in Phoenix, where we enjoyed becoming grade team leaders – Dana teaching multi-year classrooms of 2-6th grades, while I taught combined 7th and 8th grade classes. Together, both Dana and I were on the Site Council, built an 11,000 sq. foot self-sustaining school garden, assisted in establishing the computer lab, and helped rewrite the school’s mission statement to serve all children and the community. In 2002, I achieved my National Board Certification as Middle School Generalist, qualifying me as proficient in math, science, English, art and health, subjects I like to link together into comprehensive themes. Meanwhile, Dana completed her studies in bio-diverse gardening, sustainable resources and eco-friendly irrigation systems.
Although we deeply loved our colleagues and students at Valley View, a trip to Lake Tahoe in 2003 finally stole our hearts away from Arizona. After 11 years in the desert, we were ready for some snow!
We relocated to the Sierras with just enough time to prepare for the arrival of our son, Calvin. I started teaching at Squaw Valley Academy, where I stayed for two years, eventually chairing the Middle School Department at SVA.
Dana spent the final four months of her pregnancy teaching at a local daycare and initializing the certification process to run a home-based facility, and in February 2004, Calvin was born.
Over the following six months, Dana finished the certification process and we readied the Infant/Toddler room for our State inspection. Papoose Infant Care officially opened on July 1, 2004 with 6 infants signing up for the three daily spots. Dana incorporated Spanish, ASL, gross/fine motor skills, art, dramatic play, and lots of outside time. Word spread so quickly, after only 6 months in operation, our waitlist grew to almost 2 years!
While Papoose Infant Care thrived, I took a position with the North Lake Tahoe Boys & Girls Club as Technology Director and Lego Robotics staff member, combining my love of constructing useful things with, well, Legos! I segued from the Boys & Girls Club to North Lake Tahoe Middle School, and I brought my Legos with me: we entered our Lego Robotics class in a national robotics competition held at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA!
Meanwhile, Papoose was growing almost as fast as Calvin! To accommodate the increasing need for quality childcare, we decided to undergo a full-scale remodel of our home. Two years later, we were able to add a Preschool Room to our Papoose facilities – and just in time! Those 6 original infants were now very active preschoolers who had completely outgrown the Infant / Toddler Room. The Preschool Room is now our favorite room in our house. We love it for its green construction, cozy hydronic heat and planned play and work areas; our preschoolers love it for the swings suspended from the ceiling, the costume stage and the incredible mural painted by my mom, Nancy Strand.
Calvin, 6 years old!
As Dana and I both became increasingly involved in the Greater Lake Tahoe Community, we have been privileged to participate in community events promoting childcare and parenting. Dana worked with Nevada County’s First Five and Sierra Nevada Children’s Services (SNCS) developing our local First 5 Parent Conference, where I presented an interactive workshop on Fathering. Dana has acted as consultant to three other home-based preschools in curriculum and start up operations, and is a founding member of Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, a K-8 public charter school in Truckee. Because of the phenomenal growth of Papoose, I have moved out of the public school sector to dedicate myself full-time to Papoose’s on-going success.
We’re very proud to report that our teamwork is still going strong: Papoose Preschool has been re-certified with Nevada County’s 5 Star Quality Rating!
Pirates who play together…