Building life Skills and lifelong relationships.


Supporting Santa Cruz Families for nearly 50 years!

WPENS is a school for families. Since 1970, WPENS has been providing a sense of community that supports your whole family, valuable social skills for your child, learning through play and incredible parenting seminars and speakers.  Our non-profit parent cooperative has been an integral part of Santa Cruz offering quality education to both child and parent. 

You, as a parent, are able to support your child learning valuable life skills of sharing, conflict management, and cooperation.  Parent or caregiver involvement in the school provides a higher adult to child ratio and a lower tuition cost.

Parents and caregivers gain parent education through seminars and speakers at meetings, and children gain experience at an amazing preschool.

Preschool Program

While parent education is the focus for the adult, learning through play is the work of the child. At WPENS, children freely choose from a variety of materials and play equipment depending upon their own interest, learning style, level of readiness and mood for the day. Allowed this freedom of choice, the child’s play can be free, spontaneous, vigorous and creative.

Hands-on learning engages children in developing their whole being allowing them to become capable and enthusiastic learners. The curriculum for children includes art, music, dramatic play, emergent literacy, science, math, social development and large & fine motor activities.

Our positive discipline philosophy teaches respectful and effective ways of promoting cooperation. The conflict resolution skills that children learn will help them in their relationships with other people in and out of school for the rest of their lives.


What is a co-op preschool?


Parents are able to be actively involved in the daily program, working in the classroom with small groups of children. Parent participation results in lower tuition rates and a higher adult to child ratio than found in typical preschool settings.

Parent participation is the cornerstone of the WPENS program.

  • Parents are involved in every aspect of running the school.

  • This involvement enhances the quality of the program as each family shares its own unique talents.

  • Parents share resources, build friendships, grow a community of support, and learn to advocate for their children. Families join together and draw on each other’s talents and resources to provide a sound educational environment for their children. The director and teachers provide leadership and guidance as parents assume the responsibility for implementing the program. Parents receive instruction from the staff and other resources to increase their knowledge and skills related to the child. Thus parents grow in their abilities to be educators of their child both at home and at school.

The advantages of the parent participation system of education are numerous. Sharing your child’s preschool program provides you with a unique opportunity to see him/her in a group situation. Through interaction with the Teacher, you are able to develop a more knowledgeable approach to your child’s education.

Children will have practice in getting along with their peers and adults, in protecting their rights and in being sympathetic with other people’s feelings. They will begin to handle their own feelings realistically through play. They will learn best if they have the thoughtful and loving leadership parents and teachers provide.

The community experience provided where people are working together to accomplish a common goal is a healthy social experience for you and your child. Lasting relationships develop as families work together and support each other.

I see youuuuuu. 🙂 #buttoneyes #preschoolcrafts

Who we are

Cory Cherk

Teacher Cory has been teaching since the early 1980’s. Before her position at WPENS, Cory served as preschool teacher, Headstart teacher and classroom teacher in the elementary grades, in a variety of settings. Cory also founded and taught in a parent coop with her own children and other families during the early 1990’s. Through this experience, Cory confirmed her belief that building community is essential to raising a happy family. She has continued to put this belief into practice in her work with children and families at WPENS.

Cory graduated from UCSC in 1985 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. She has used her background in Environmental Studies in many settings with children. Exploration of the natural world is foremost in her teaching. Cory went on to finish a fifth-year program and to receive her multiple-subject credential from UCSC in 1985. Her first elementary assignment was to teach fourth grade at Spring Grove Elementary School in Hollister, California. During her five years at Spring Grove, Cory taught fourth grade, Kindergarten, a combination K/1/2 and Middle School ESL. Cory returned to Santa Cruz by 1990. She finds Santa Cruz to be a family-friendly and community oriented place. Cory and her husband Chris have raised their two daughters, Erin and Maya, in Santa Cruz. Cory founded a parent coop and was a Lead Teacher. She was instrumental in developing and supporting creative curriculum and parent support.

Cory’s first experience with WPENS was as a parent, as she and her daughter Maya enrolled in the program. Cory found WPENS to be a warm and educational community. She understood its value to families and society. Cory loves teaching at the coop because she gets to support children and parents as they practice skills, learn and grow together, and create life long friendships.

Cory has been teaching at the preschool since 1999. From 2013 to 2015, she returned briefly to the elementary setting, as she explored the newly created Transitional Kindergarten program. Cory also enrolled as a teacher in an Early Literacy Program, SEEDS, where she advanced her understanding of the foundations of teaching early literacy skills. Cory is currently a Mentor Teacher for other teachers in the SEEDS program. In this capacity she observes and mentors teachers who are learning how to implement literacy skills.

Cory returned to WPENS in 2015, drawn by the strong community and the work she gets to do with families. Cory says: “WPENS is the most supportive program possible for parents and children. It can be really hard to be a parent these days. Parents get a chance to meet, play and grow together. They realize that they are not alone in the issues they face as parents. When children have a difficult time, there is a whole community that rallies and supports them. I love teaching this age group. I observe the children and follow their natural curiosity. Working with children at this age is especially wonderful because I get to observe students as they discover the world all of the time, in every way. I feel privileged to share this very special time with families. Parents and children really do make life long friends through this program. They form connections that last into the elementary years and beyond. That’s the greatest joy.”


Lydia Klem & Kayti Mata, Co-Presidents

Laura Delaney, Vice President

Lindsey Knisely - Communications Chair

Dave McLaughlin, Paying Treasurer

Mary Casey , Receiving Treasurer

Rebecca Cohen, Waitlist Coordinator

Kayla Moor, Jobs Coordinator

Ryan Garcia, Secretary

Leah Kravtsov – Fundraising (elect)