06.18.05


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Three Generations at Merry Moppet Preschool and Belmont Oaks Academy

Merry Moppet Preschool and Belmont Oaks Academy began in 1948 as a small co-op nursery school in Belmont. With only ten students in 1948 to a current enrollment of 360, Merry Moppet Preschool and Belmont Oaks Academy has grown in size as well as in reputation.

The founder Janet Graetz along with her daughter, Pamela Clarke (Executive Director) have dedicated their lives to the education of the young child.

Photo (clockwise from top left): Jennifer Khoury (grand daughter of founder and former Belmont Oaks Teacher), Pamela Clarke, Great Grandchildren of founder, Janel Reams, Morgan Khoury and Benjamin Khoury.


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Janet Card Graetz - Founder

Janet Card Graetz was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Her parents were both educators: her mother taught all grades in elementary and high school, while her father taught Law in Tacoma as well as being the youngest man to ever serve as a Superior Court Judge.

Although she came from a background of teachers, Janet Graetz decided at a young age to never be a teacher and instead entered the University of Washington - Seattle as a business major. A member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and various campus organizations provided Janet with not only a Liberal Arts background but three years towards her business degree.

In 1934, she was one of sixty women accepted to Prince School, formerly a graduate school of Harvard University (now Simmons University, Boston) and received a full scholarship. Upon receiving a B.S. in Business from Simmons ,she went to New York where she was employed by Bamberger's Department Store, doing of all things TEACHING in the personnel department. Subsequently, she worked in the personnel department of Fredrick and Nelsons in Seattle, Washington...still teaching.

Janet Graez was married in 1937, and moved to Belmont, California in 1946. She had two daughters, Judith and Pamela and decided to professinally retire to become a housewife and mother. In 1948, she took her younger daughter, Pamela, to a local parent co-op in Belmont. Due to the unexpected death of one of the teachers, Mrs. Graetz found herself teaching once again. It didn't take long before she became fascinated with the field of Early Childhoon Education, and because the field was in its infancy in 1948 the opportunity to create and fulfill the needs of young children were endless. Mrs. Graetz and her former partner, Jeanne Miles decided to expand the co-op and Merry Moppet Nursery School was born.

Mrs. Graetz insisted that she "never really wanted to be a teacher" but always felt blessed with the knowledge that she had made a difference. As Mrs. Graetz once stated, "Teaching is a most rewarding profession to which you should definitely, 'never say never.' "


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History of our Location

For the past 55 years, Merry Moppet Preschool and Belmont Oaks Academy has established its home here in Belmont. Beginning as a small parent co-op with an enrollment of 20 children, Merry Moppet realized that their current home (located in the old Belmont City Hall), was no longer able to meet it's growing enrollment.

Wanting to become more than just a preschool, Merry Moppet began looking for a more suitable and permanent location, one where they could really put their roots down and expand through the grades. Not wanting to look anywhere but Belmont, an opportunity came for the school to purchase the beautiful home of Dr. Wieper, retiring head of the California T.B. Sanitarium. His home along with the beautiful swimming pool became the permanent school house for Merry Moppet Preschool and today house our three year old classes.

Shortly there after the Charles Howard Foundation closed. The foundation, a hospital for children with various heart disorders, was located adjacent to the Merry Moppet property. It was the wishes of the doctors that the building continue to be used for children. The Belmont Oaks building and Warren Hall Museum was added to a fast growing enrollment and expanding school. the elementary school opened it's doors with Kindergarten and First Grade in 1955.

Warren Hall, a small wildlife museum which housed trophies of a variety of wild animals, now houses one of our First Grade classes. Our current Third Grade classroom has history as the one room school house used by the students at te Charles Howard Foundation. The front section of the Belmont Oaks building for many years after its purchase was the professional office of Dr. Gerald Fairburn, who was well known and loved by all residents of Belmont. How many schools had their own doctor on site?

Throughout the years many changes and additions have taken place, but always with a priority to maintain the architectuarl beauty of the main buildings on the property.

The beautiful swimming pool is only operational from June through August providing private swim lessons and recreational swimming for our students. Merry Moppet Preschool and Belmont Oaks Academy is truly fortunate to be situated in this beautiful garden setting on it's two tree shaded acres in the sheltered valley of Belmont Hills.

Merry Moppet Preschool and Belmont Oaks Academy is honored and proud to have provided an "Excellence in Education" program for over 55 years to the children of Belmont and our surrounding communities