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After 80 years, a cooperative preschool closes its doors, while another steps in to fill the void

A local preschool operating in North Arlington church will soon shut its doors — but another childcare center is already lined up to replace it.

Overlee Preschool, a cooperative, parent-led school out of the Church of the Covenant (2666 Military Road) will close next month. Children’s Weekday Program — currently operating out of Redeemer Church of Arlington in the Alcova Heights neighborhood — will take over.

Founded in the 1940s by a group of mothers, Overlee Preschool is closing after reduced enrollment complicated by Covid. The school weathered the pandemic by moving fully outdoors.

“We are very sad to be closing the doors of an organization that has played such a significant role in the lives of many, many Arlington families,” school president Melissa Farrar told ARLnow.

“The times, however, have changed, and the fully cooperative model — which requires every family to spend time in the classroom and have a school ‘job’ — has been more difficult to market to local families, who have a multitude of competing pressures on their time,” she continued.

Farrar thanked the teachers, particularly Louisa Stetekluh, who taught for more than 20 years and is “the beating heart” of the school.

“Her charisma, depth of experience, and gentle and respectful connection with our children has drawn family after family to Overlee,” she said. “It is impossible to speak of Overlee’s successes and what makes us special without mentioning her in the same breath.”

If there is a silver lining here, she says, it is that another preschool will replace Overlee.

“While our story is coming to an end, we will be glad to still hear the laughter of children on the playground as we walk by, and we wish the incoming tenant every success and growth in the coming years,” Farrar said.

Children’s Weekday Program intends to more than double the number of children for whom it can care. It has applied for a use permit to serve up to 71 children — a 136% increase over the 30 children Overlee Preschool was permitted to serve. The Arlington County Board is scheduled to approve the permit during its meeting this Saturday.

“We are really excited about the new space and look forward to moving into the building in August,” Children’s Weekday Program announced on its website. “CWP’s doors will open in September 2023 for Meet the Teacher events prior to the first day of school.”

Registration is ongoing for new and returning families, per the website.

County staff says the site can accommodate this proposed capacity increase with two indoor and outdoor play areas, divided up based on age, and a proposed staffing level of 16 employees. The program will operate on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The report says approval is recommended because the new school will not have negative impacts on the neighborhood, and the local civic associations either support it or have expressed no issue with it.

Arlington has long had a childcare shortage problem and the tight demand helped childcare programs survive the pandemic. The county has tried to encourage more daycare centers by loosening zoning regulations and helping people find options via a website and provider map.

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About Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT): Latinas Leading Tomorrow is a dynamic 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young Latina women through education, mentorship, and leadership development. We are committed to fostering a community of future leaders who will make a significant impact to the community.

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Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.

Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.

Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.

Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!

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Submit your own Announcement here.

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