Originally established in the 1960's as St. Bartholomew's Nursery School, Room to Grow was even then a leader in early childhood education, offering parent participation preschool to the Livermore community. Play-based learning with a strong emphasis on the development of positive social skills was the core philosophy of the school. Room to Grow reached out to the community, collaborating with a local nonprofit agency, CAPE, Inc to provide opportunities for quality preschool to underprivileged families throughout the Head Start program. The original Room to Grow closed in 1989.
In 2007, St Bartholomew's Episcopal Church again offered its classrooms and grounds to the community as a site for an early childhood program. A trio of local early childhood professionals, Karen Nattrass, Debbie Vigil, and Debbie Lignell , MFT. responded to this offer with a proposal for a parent participation preschool program grounded in theory and best practice. Together the partners formed a nonprofit corporation, adopting the original Room to Grow name and committed to providing both high quality preschool and parent education. Over a five month period they worked to renovate and equip the facility. In October of 2007 Room to Grow welcomed its first children. The program represents the realization of the hopes, dreams and over 70 years of cummulative experience of its founders.
Karen Nattrass, MA and Debbie Vigil have been continuously involved in early childhood programs for over 35 years. Karen and Debbie co-teach and administer the program. Debbie's experience includes both family childcare and preschool. She has been a mentor teacher and together with Karen is a frequent presenter of trainings and workshops thoughout the state. Karen's career has included both teaching and administration. In addition to her direct work with young children, Karen is also a mentor teacher and college instructor.
Both Karen and Debbie bring a love of learning and a passion for teaching along with extensive knowledge of art, science and nature to their work with young children. Their years of experience with children have forged their core belief that childen must play to learn and that it is from that play that the ideas emerge which focus the children's interests and drive their pursuit of further learning.