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Meet Lisa Anand of The Garden Cooperative Nursery School in Glassell Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Anand.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I came to The Garden Cooperative Nursery School as a parent with my two young boys in 2007, looking for a preschool that offered community, outdoor exploration and free play, and was affordable. We hit the jackpot with The Garden, and it turned out this preschool world was even more enriching than I could have imagined–not just for my children, but for me. Through my weekly workdays on the yard and the parent training, I built my skills in nonviolent communication, learned to see things through the excited eyes of my children and their peers, and made strong bonds with other families going through similar ups and downs on their parenting journeys.

When my children graduated from preschool, I decided that I didn’t want to, so I went back to school and got my certificate in Early Childhood Education through UCLA Extension in order to teach. The information I learned dovetailed nicely with my previous experience teaching English to children in France, running playgroups for children with special needs and their parents, and teaching Music Together classes. When a part-time Garden position opened the year after my younger son graduated (2012), I applied and got the job. Part-time became full-time, and teaching grew into directing. As my role and involvement at the school grew, I completed more coursework and obtained my California Child Development Program Director Permit. Now I am lucky enough to get to work closely with the children, parents, and teachers in the Garden community.

I’m currently completing my sixth year as Teacher/Director. Over the years, I have learned a lot about children, families, parents, play, learning, development, running a non-profit, volunteer coordination, communication, fostering community, teacher supervision and mentorship, and more. This job is multi-faceted and complex, which makes it both rewarding and challenging. There is never a dull moment, and it pushes me to continue to learn and grow as an educator, a leader and a person.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I feel fortunate that my career pathway has led me to where I am now. That said, I think one of the biggest struggles as a preschool teacher and director is dealing with societal pressures and preconceived notions about our profession. Pressures come from a lack of prestige or money associated with the field of early childhood education (ECE), and a push to make something more of oneself by pursuing other options.

The preconceived notions about ECE that I have encountered are wide-ranged. The most problematic for me is the idea that “academics” should be pushed down to younger and younger age ranges, and kids should learn rote skills earlier. Those of this opinion often question the value of play, which is something I see as the primary learning tool and joyful activity of childhood (and beyond). Through play, curiosity, creativity and connection are fostered, and the skills that make children whole are developed on their own timetable. In this playful environment, it can sometimes seem that teachers and adults are unimportant as children are left to their own whims, but the adult role is nuanced and critical. They are there to help unlock the mystery of each child’s unique potential and provide the love, scaffolding and spark through activities, materials, strategies and support in order to help them reach it.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Garden Cooperative Nursery School – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I think our mission statement sums up well what we are all about and what we are known for.

The mission of The Garden is to love, nurture and grow self-confident, empowered, emotionally intelligent, expressive, curious and capable children by cultivating an inspiring outdoor play-based environment with a variety of hands-on experiences and activities and providing rich opportunities for parent involvement and education.

I believe we succeed in this mission because each member of our community, child and adult, is valued for who they are, and their contributions. We support each other, learn, and have fun together.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Life is so dynamic and full of surprises, gifts and challenges. I try not to get too ahead of myself. For as long as I feel that I am helping the children and families in my care grow, and they are helping me grow, I suppose you will find me at The Garden. I am inspired by field leaders who are crusading for children to be allowed to play, be outdoors, and take healthy risks. I am hopeful that the world is waking up to the fact that standardized information cramming is not the way to develop healthy minds, bodies and relationships, and kills inspiration and innovation. I know that no matter where my career path leads, I will always hold deep respect and love for children. Their wisdom, curiosity and spirit is a model for us adults.

Contact Info:

  • Address: The Garden Cooperative Nursery School
    3602 Eagle Rock Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90065
  • Website:
  • Phone: 424-319-0065
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @thegardencoop

Image Credit:
These photos were lovingly provided by Garden Co-op parents.

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