About Us

For more than 50 years, Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool (AUCP) has educated young children with a play-based curriculum that builds self-confidence and independence. As a pioneer in outdoor education in our area, AUCP fosters creativity and nature exploration with its dedicated outdoor classroom.

Serving infants through pre-kindergarteners, AUCP is a half-day cooperative preschool that values parent involvement and fosters community. It is parent-owned and operated, non-sectarian, and requires parents to work along with the teacher in their own child’s classroom on a rotating basis. In addition, parents take responsibility for many administrative and maintenance functions of the school throughout the school year.

History

In 1969 a group of moms whose two-year-olds attended Sunday School at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington decided they wanted their children to play and learn together during the week as well as on Sundays.

They enlisted the help of Dr. E.M. Bridge, a retired pediatrician who also participated in the Sunday School program. Within three years the program transformed from an informal, parent-run volunteer program to a preschool with paid teachers, parent orientation, a policy handbook, and an age-based curriculum modeled on the Montessori philosophy. By the end of the third year, the preschool enrolled 54 students in four different classes.

Originally established with a firm Montessori base, the AUCP curriculum has expanded to include not only those early Montessori roots but also concepts from current child development research and theory. The AUCP curriculum promotes the child’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development rather than focusing upon a body of knowledge that the child must acquire. The children are encouraged to express themselves imaginatively and creatively. Check out our Philosophy for more details.

Staff

Diann Vaughan, Program Director

Diann earned her Bachelor of Arts from The College of William & Mary, and her Master’s degree in Counseling form Argosy University. She and her family joined AUCP in 2005, and all three of her boys, Christopher, Erik, and Owen, attended. Diann was so impressed with the community and its approach to working with children that she accepted a job as Assistant Director in 2011 and then as Program Director in 2020.

Kevan Miller, Director, Curriculum & Staff Development

After five years in publishing, Kevan began her teaching career in 1996 as a pre-kindergarten teacher at Burgundy Farm Country Day School in Alexandria, VA. She completed a Master’s in Early Childhood Education at George Mason University in 2000 and spent the next nine years teaching first grade for Fairfax County Public Schools. Kevan joined the AUCP community as a parent in 2006 and has enjoyed teaching at AUCP since 2010.

Inspired by children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder about the world, Kevan strives to create an environment that encourages children to ask questions, express their thoughts and ideas, and grow as creative problem solvers and learners. She and her husband Steve live in Arlington with their two children, Phoebe and Noah, both AUCP alums.

Teachers

Anna Bowman, Panda Teacher

AUCP hired Anna in 2007 to teach the Panda class, and she has been there ever since! Before joining AUCP, she taught 1st grade at Barrett Elementary School in Arlington for 12 years and two years of Pre-K in Buffalo, NY. Anna received a BS in Early Childhood Education from Buffalo State College in NY and has taken many graduate classes in Reading and ESOL at GMU and other universities. Her son, JD, is an AUCP alum; Anna took the teaching job to get him into AUCP!

Stephanie Brown, Wallaby & Owl Teacher

After growing up in Florida and graduating from the University of Florida, Stephanie moved to the DC area in 2007. She completed a Master’s degree in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Virginia and became passionate about the transformative power of high-quality early childhood education. She taught pre-kindergarten in Arlington Public Schools for 10 years before choosing to stay home with her daughter in 2017. After being inspired by AUCP’s mission and community while co-oping in the Panda class, she gratefully found a home teaching at AUCP. She and her husband, Jonas, reside in Arlington along with their daughter, Olive.

JJ Gardiner, Kangaroo Teacher

JJ holds a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Gallaudet University. She worked as an SLP in public schools with students from preschool through high school before taking time off when her sons were born. JJ’s boys are proud AUCP graduates. She has been an active member of AUCP since 2005 and has been teaching here since 2011. She also oversees AUCP’s garden and outdoor education program and continues to see preschool age speech-language clients in the afternoons.

Alison Marino, Dolphin and Owl Teacher

Alison joined AUCP as a parent in 2000. She started teaching at AUCP in 2003 after 6 years as a stay-at-home mom. She taught one day a week in the Panda class in 2003 when her oldest daughter started kindergarten, just to discover that baby #3 was on the way. She went back to the co-oping parent role until another Panda teaching position opened in 2005. In 2007, Alison started doing the music program in addition to teaching the Pandas. She studied ECC at Union College and Special Education at Kean University in New Jersey. She has been working with children since 1988: first as a classroom assistant in college, later on as head teacher in various Pre-K programs, and as both an assistant director and director of child development centers.

Julie McDonald, Penguin Teacher

Julie grew up in Gainesville, Florida and graduated from the University of Florida with a Masters in Elementary Education. She spent 10 years teaching fifth grade, first grade, and Kindergarten for Fairfax County Public Schools before electing to stay at home with her children. Julie became a member of the AUCP community in 2015 when her son Connor joined the Penguin class. Her early years working at an outdoor education summer camp and new experiences co-oping at a play-based preschool influenced her choice to teach at AUCP. She and her husband Paul live in Arlington with their three children, Connor, Anna, and Rose.

Elizabeth Rodas, Classroom Aide

Elizabeth has been teaching at AUCP since 2001, at all age levels. She moved here from El Salvador in 1988 and worked with children as a nanny until her arrival at AUCP. She went to school in El Salvador and completed her CDA. Elizabeth loves to introduce children to new words in Spanish. In addition to all of her children at AUCP, she has a grown son named Alexander, who just moved here from El Salvador.

Asmaa Rosenberg, Puffin Teacher

Asmaa Rosenberg joined AUCP as a teacher and parent in 2008. Asmaa holds a Diploma in Childhood Education from the Croissant Rouge in Rabat, Morocco and has taught preschoolers in both Rabat and Arlington. She is fluent in Arabic, French, and English and shares her love of language with her students.  Asmaa draws inspiration from her father, also an educator and principal: learn one thing every day, have fun with your friends, and believe in yourself.

Licensing

AUCP is fully licensed through both Arlington County and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia grants three-year licenses only to those schools that are in full compliance with state regulations.