Mercer Island has a rich legacy of providing for the youngest members of its community. The first nursery school on the Island was established in the 1920s. In 1937, Katharine MacGilvra hosted the first meeting of what would become the Mercer Island Preschool Association.
Times have changed since then, but the guiding principles of MIPA remain the same – strong commitment to the education and well-being of children from birth through Kindergarten on Mercer Island and in other communities.
In the 1940s, MIPA started Island nursery school programs, established the first cooperative preschool on Mercer Island and was instrumental in bringing Kindergarten to the Island elementary school. MIPA continued to bring early childhood educational experiences to Island children in the decades to follow, sponsoring dance classes, “Spanish for the small fry”, educational field trips and other opportunities as the needs and desires of the community changed.
Over the years, MIPA has been a key part of community life on the Island. MIPA was a driving force behind bringing a King County library to the Island in 1945. In the 1950s, MIPA sponsored a disadvantaged, rural school in Kentucky through the Save the Children Foundation. MIPA members donated time and talent to create the Mercer Island Children’s Park in 1962 (fondly known as the “dragon park”), with the addition of the beloved dragon in 1966. In 2000, MIPA raised much of the funds to build, in partnership with the city, a new children’s playground in Mercerdale Park. This new playground opened in 2002. MIPA again partnered with the City of Mercer Island in 2009 to install the new toddlers’ play area (the “fire engine” climbing toy) and swings at Luther Burbank Park. Most recently through funds raised by a successful auction, MIPA made a significant contribution toward the new playground at Luther Burbank Park, which opened September 2013.
Additionally, MIPA donates approximately $8,000 to the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services organization every year to provide preschool scholarships to families in need on Mercer Island.