TCP's Philosophy

Kids at easel Tustin Community Preschool's philosophy is simple: The best way to prepare children for life and to become independent thinkers is to allow them to develop at their own pace through playtime and creative expression. We offer a hands-on approach in a developmental environment, nurturing all sides of the mind, body and spirit.

Because we recognize the importance of human development within the early childhood years, TCP's program is structured around helping each child reach their highest potential through the exploration of their natural abilities and curiosities.

Our mission is to provide an enriching and stimulating developmental preschool experience for young children through dedicated and committed parent participation.

What is a Co-Op? And Why a Co-Op?

A cooperative preschool, or "co-op", is one at which parents work as volunteers on a rotating basis fulfilling jobs both in and out of the classroom. Father and daughter

Question Is your family right for a parent participation or "co-op" preschool?
Answer In a parent participation preschool, each family is involved in the planning and operation of the school. In the day-to-day running of the school, parents work under the supervision of one of our very experienced teachers and/or director.

Additionally, each parent takes on a job at the school to ensure that we maintain a fun, fully-enriching environment for our children. This can be anything from a board director position (Each year, the parents form a board of directors and are active in all decision-making at either the board or general membership level) to maintaining the classroom art area, to serving on a committee such as Curriculum or Ways & Means. For TCP to run smoothly, every parent's contribution and commitment is important. This is what drives the developmental enrichment program that we are committed to providing for all of our children. Finally, all parents participate in fundraising and event activities as needed.

Question What makes the ideal TCP working parent?
Answer A parent that stays at home, works part-time or has flexible work hours makes an ideal candidate. If you love to volunteer and get involved with your child, and aren't afraid to get your hands dirty, then you will love this school. We also need parents that can "love up" all the kids in the class – not just their own.

Question What does a parent participation program offer?
Answer The child learns to communicate and be social not only with other children, but with adults outside of their family as well.

There is tremendous benefit in learning about how your child develops, how the educational process begins, and in being able to watch your child change and grow along with their friends.

TCP families create a community within the school, and we all work together to help nurture all of our children. Bonds of friendship and community are created quickly in this setting, providing both children AND parents with a supportive network of peers. We all share a common goal: to raise our kids in the developmentally enriching environment of which we all become a part. In other words, TCP becomes as much a learning experience for the parents as it does the child.

The Developmental Approach

The study of child development is the exploration of how children grow and develop naturally as they age from infancy to adulthood, reaching milestones at different stages of growth. Tustin Community Preschool takes that knowledge, through the experience and background of our teachers and director, and creates a program that takes into consideration the maturation process for each child's own level. So, rather than force a learning process that a child is not developmentally or chronologically ready to embrace, we instead encourage a learning process through thoughtful playtime, creative experiences and sensory discovery. By doing what is age-appropriate, your child will become confident and socially ready to handle life's next venture without losing their childhood. This type of "open-ended" learning will encourage your child to use their own amazing brain.

Our Director, Ms. Shelley Burnett

Shelley Burnett – lovingly referred to as Ms. Shelley, and known for her warmth and enthusiasm with children and parents alike – has been a part of the TCP family for many years. First, as a mother with two of her sons attending the preschool, and then in 1999, Shelley Burnett she joined the team as the Parent/Toddler Teacher. Ms. Shelley brings with her a background in child development and has been recognized by the State of California as Teacher of the Year in 2008. Along with her husband and their three adult sons, Shelley is a long-time resident of Tustin.

In 2013 she took on the role of Director and 3 Day Class Teacher. With fresh new ideas and a strong foundation in beloved TCP traditions, Ms. Shelley's passion for children and love for the school will take TCP into the next 50 years of playing to learn.

Our Teacher, Ms. Christina Wilmer

Christina Wilmer

Christina Wilmer joined TCP in 2010 as an enthusiastic parent, and never left. She founded TCP's Kids' Book Club in 2013, and has filled in as a substitute teacher for us as well. She served on the Board of Directors for all of her years until 2017, when she took over Parent/Toddler and 2 Day A.M. classes from her friend, Ms. Juliana.

Ms. Christina holds a teaching credential in English, and is pursuing her Masters degree in Curriculum with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. She has worked with preschoolers; has taught TK, kindergarten and middle school; and has experience assisting special-needs high school students. Ms. Christina brings literature-based ideas, project-based learning experience, and a love for hands-on, experiential learning. She believes in TCP's developmental learning model and is driven by a curiosity in arts and sciences and children's abilities to solve problems and create. She believes parents are their children's first and most important teachers.