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In the early 1970’s, West University resident and early childhood educator Ann Wallin acted on her vision of creating a preschool in which her children and neighborhood friends could enhance their development, and parents could enrich their parenting skills. She and her friend Marcia Wall obtained permission from her church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, to use one of the church’s classrooms to pilot their idea. The concept was successful. However, when St. Andrew’s chose to adopt a more traditional preschool model for their comprehensive early childhood program, Beehive was without a home.
The Beehive Parent-Child Center, Inc. opened its doors on West University Elementary School’s campus in October 1973. Ann worked with the City of West University Place and Houston Independent School District officials for over a year in order to obtain the necessary permission and funding to move Beehive to the campus of West U. Elementary. The City of West University Place, through the Parks and Recreation Board, and HISD jointly sponsored the project. The City agreed to provide seed money for materials and supplies ad the school district agreed to allow Beehive to use space in “temporary buildings” already set up on the West University Elementary campus. A review committee made up of parents, city officials and HISD personnel was formed to oversee and evaluate the project after one year.
The school’s mission, as stated in the original proposal submitted to HISD, has 3 components. First, the school is to serve preschool age children in an environment designed to engage them in ways that are appropriate to develop physical, intellectual, emotional and social growth and form a healthy self-concept. The second goal is to provide parents support and guidance in early childhood development. The school’s final aim is to build community between families through the shared effort and interaction of children and parents at the school and develop positive feelings for the City of West University Place.
In May 2020, after decades of operation on the WUES campus, Beehive received a notice of eviction from HISD for the end of the 2020-2021 school year, citing plans to implement a district-run Pre-K program in the space. The director and board members promptly set about ensuring the future of Beehive. Proposals to WUES leadership and HISD representatives for Beehive to remain on campus were presented but denied; purchasing property and mergers with other similarly impacted schools were considered; and ultimately new locations were evaluated. In Fall 2020, Beehive approached the West University Church of Christ, having noticed their building formerly housed a preschool program. The West U Church of Christ was enthusiastic about the opportunity for their expansive space to be used by the community, and Beehive and the West U Church of Christ set forth a long-term agreement for Beehive to renovate and make use of one unused wing of their building as the future home of Beehive. The new location on Bissonnet will open in Fall 2021 and Beehive will continue to serve local families with our unique parent cooperative model and research backed curricula.
As envisioned by Mrs. Wallin, Beehive continues its mission of providing an environment that benefits young children and their parents as they grow and develop. The original model, which proposed that children be allowed to move between open classrooms with numerous interest centers and an outdoor playground, remains a viable concept. The most distinctive aspect of the school continues to be the daily, active involvement of parents, where the established curriculum is enriched by parent contributions. The Beehive Parent Child Center community is proud of its legacy of providing preschool children, their parents and the community many long-lasting benefits.