End of an era

Teacher who gave thousands of children a good start says goodbye, closes school

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published June 3, 2016

 Timmerman and her teaching assistants stand with their last group of preschoolers. Timmerman has owned the school since 1979.

Timmerman and her teaching assistants stand with their last group of preschoolers. Timmerman has owned the school since 1979.

Photo by Deb Jacques


ROSEVILLE — With some of the school’s former students old enough to be grandparents by now, and two generations of children sharing the same caring preschool teacher, parents and children were saddened by the news that Jack and Jill Nursery School would close this month.

First opened in 1964 in St. Clair Shores, the original owner retired in 1979. That was the year another teacher at the school, Fran Timmerman, bought the business.

She’s been educating preschoolers ever since.

“I was Miss Fran’s second or third class ever ... and my daughter’s the last class, so I thought that was kind of cool,” said Karyn Schoen, of Clinton Township.

She attended the school from 1979 to 1980 and always remembered “Miss Fran” because of a picture she had of her class.

“I just remember it being a lot of fun,” Schoen said. “Some of the songs that we sang in that class, I didn’t hear them other places and I remembered them and taught them to my kids, and my kid came home the other day singing it!”

She said that when she began investigating where to send her 3-year-old daughter, Kylie, to preschool, Jack and Jill Nursery School came up in the web search.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be cool to send Kylie there, but that can’t possibly be the same woman,’” she said.

But it was. And even more so, Timmerman still remembered Schoen and pulled out her class photo for Schoen to sign.

Tim Timmerman, Fran Timmerman’s son, said the school has been in the community for so long that his mom always runs into students, current or former, when out shopping.

“It’s a passion, and that’s why she’s hung in there when there’s so many options for free school programs,” he said.

Fran Timmerman said the time has just gone by fast.

“The original owner owned it for 15 years and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll own it for 15 years,’” she said.

She earned a degree in education from Michigan State University through an extension program, and over the years she had as many as 140 kids per year at the school. Jack and Jill Nursery School was held in different buildings in the Lake Shore Public Schools district, wherever they had space, until about a dozen years ago, when Timmerman moved the school into the St. Athanasius Church, which is now St. Pio, on 13 Mile Road in Roseville.

Even as class sizes dwindled with the proliferation of free preschool programs through the public schools, Timmerman said she loved teaching the children because, “I can learn right along with them.”

“They’re curious and little sponges, and they soak up everything,” she said. “Time goes by really fast.”

She said she preferred to stay with the “tried and true traditional” ways of teaching her students and said that most of the time, they don’t even know they’re learning — they’re just having fun playing a game.

Timmerman held her last graduation for her students May 26, celebrated Father’s Day with Donuts with Dad for the last time May 31, and held her last day of class June 2.

“It was hard graduating all the kids and knowing that I’m not going to see them next year,” she said.

She’s been a resident in the city for 40 years and has loved working in her community.

“I like being a local business. I wish people would patronize small businesses,” she said.

Schoen and other parents said they were sad to see the school close.

“I am very, very sad that this is closing and very upset that I can’t send my son there too, because he’s just a year and a half behind (my daughter),” Schoen said. “She has so much patience to just keep on doing this and wanting to keep on doing this.”

“She was an amazing teacher,” said Melissa Todd, of Fraser, whose 5-year-old son, Dante, just finished his second year at Jack and Jill.

“They do everything with him. ... He’s just so excited. When we did Dante’s graduation, she had people in the audience that she taught when they were little. I think that played a big part in it, and her teaching aides that she has with her, they were awesome too.”

Timmerman said she still has a lot of vintage toys and is planning to have a sale of educational and vintage toys at the school 9 a.m.-noon June 9-12.

“They’re better made from the ’60s,” she said.

Jack and Jill Nursery School is located in St. Pio Church, at 18720 13 Mile Road, in Roseville.