Classes & Teachers
Children are grouped in classes by age as of September 1st. This is the deadline used by the Georgia public school system, as well as most area private schools. Class structuring changes year by year based on membership needs. Please contact email@example.com with specific questions about how the upcoming school year is forming.
The Owls are at least three years old as of September 1. The student-teacher ratio is 8-to-1, with one parent-teacher. There are eight children in each class. Attendance options include two, three, four, or five days a week.
The Sparrows are at least three years old as of September 1. The student-teacher ratio is 8-to-1, with one parent-teacher. There are eight children in each class. Attendance options include two, three, four, or five days a week.
Ashley Norton is our energetic Larks teacher. She grew up in central Florida and attended college in Georgia, studying musical theatre and early childhood education. Ashley spent many years performing both at Disney World and in regional theatres throughout the United States. Since moving to Decatur in 2009, she has had the privilege of teaching art and music classes as well as working at Reggio Emilia inspired schools in the community.
Susan Diamond has been involved in cooperative preschool education for seventeen years. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Georgia State University, with a major in French. After completing college she was employed in the hospitality and restaurant industries, which allowed her to pursue her interest in travel.
Eighteen years ago Susan and her husband, Michael, became parents, traveling to China to adopt their daughter, Ivy. Ivy began attending a cooperative preschool when she was two and a half. Soon after Susan became employed there as a substitute teacher, after-care teacher, and teacher’s assistant. She then became a teacher and taught a multi-age class of three- and four- year olds.
Susan believes that children at the preschool level learn through play, and from experiencing and exploring the world around them. She feels that having parents present to participate and contribute in the classroom fosters a strong sense of community.
Her daughter is a sophomore at Georgia Tech and has an incredible enthusiasm for learning, which Susan attributes to early school years at a cooperative preschool. This is Susan’s twelfth year as an OCP teacher. She enjoys playing a positive role in the lives of her students here at OCP.
Julie Vazquez has done it all at OCP–parent, board member, advisory council member, summer camp director, sub and now Owls teacher. As a founding parent, she helped build the foundation for the holistic, green, creative educational curriculum of our school.
Her professional experience includes music, teaching, curriculum development, health education, and nonprofit leadership. Before returning to OCP in 2022, Julie shared the gift of music with countless children from birth to pre-K in various Decatur schools, as well as older children ages 6-10 through private group keyboarding instruction. She is certified in all levels of the Musikgarten curriculum and adapted it for her use in the classroom.
A gifted singer and supporter of the arts, Julie serves as the honorary social chair of the Oakhurst Community Choir and a board member of Decatur Performs. She has volunteered extensively in the community, including 15+ years with City Schools of Decatur. After sending three children through OCP, she is excited to help nurture and guide a new generation of students and their families.
Chickadees (younger twos)
Chase Martin is thrilled to be joining OCP as the Chickadees teacher. Both of her children attended OCP in years past and she was happy to get the opportunity to be a substitute teacher throughout this past year at OCP, as well as, a Montessori school. She has a passion for working with children and has done so starting with her first job in high school at a daycare in the afternoons and continued with summer camps, non-profit work in the community/schools and most recently being a professional full-time nanny. She is at her happiest working with 2 and 3 year olds and loves to help them foster their curiosity, especially in nature. Chase believes in the value of community that OCP offers children and families and is happy to be a part of helping build those connections. She lives in Decatur with her husband and two children (Jackson age 9 and Charley age 6) and you can often find them hiking, camping and rock climbing!
Nancy Olivo started teaching in 2013 as an after-school drawing teacher for A Spunky Little Arts Company, while assisting classrooms in the Peachtree Road Lutheran Preschool for 3 years. She has lead summer camps for both programs, developing curriculum for school-aged campers based on students’ interests.
Nancy strives to make each child feel welcome and safe in the classroom, and continues to educate herself through professional development programs and in the classroom.
The teacher is the designer of the child’s environment and maintains the rhythm of the day. He or she constantly interacts with the children and is engaged in an ongoing cycle of observation, guidance, and assessment. The relationship that the teacher develops with each child is instrumental in providing the safe and secure environment on which OCP prides itself. The teacher also helps children work through disagreements as an unbiased mediator.
Another important relationship that the teacher nurtures is the relationship with the parent. Open communication with parents occurs on a regular basis, and the unique parent-teaching experience of the cooperative preschool allows for an even stronger relationship between parent, teacher, and child.
Relationships between caregivers/teachers and children and their families are the foundation of a child’s development of sense of self and security and his or her ability to relate to others and express feelings. Our low child-to-teacher ratio fosters this strong relationship between teacher, child, and family.
Every class at OCP is led by an experienced teacher with at least a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or related area of study and extensive experience working with young children and parent education. Lead teachers are supported by a parent-teacher, and in the case of the oldest class–the Larks, an assistant teacher. Assistant teachers must have successfully completed an associate degree in early childhood education with three to five years experience or a four-year degree with one to two years experience.
All teachers undergo an extensive interview process to determine their professional and ethical understanding of teaching young children. They must also understand and respect the parent’s role in a cooperative and value parent education. All are required to have current CPR and first aid certification.
Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool creates a nurturing community that gives children and their families the opportunity to learn, communicate, play and grow together. In this positive, family-centered educational environment, we strive to develop each child's curiosity, empathy, confidence, self-discipline, and enthusiasm for learning.
By encouraging children to be active and creative explorers of art, music, literature, nature, and the community, we provide a foundation for acquiring the skills children need to succeed both now and in the future. We model sustainable practices through our curriculum, daily operations, and community events.