Rose Weilerstein, Educator


Rose Weilerstein, Educator

Berkeley Hills Nursery School: 1161 Sterling Avenue

Rose Weilerstein was a devoted advocate, an unfailing friend, and trusted teacher of young children. In her soft spoken, gentle way, “Rosie,” as she was called by the kids, was a warrior on behalf of their education and emotional and social well-being. She became an acknowledged role model for many Berkeley mothers and fathers, setting by example how to educate, nurture, and mentor their own and other people’s children.

In addition to lobbying, writing, advising, and coordinating conferences, Rose was associated with the Berkeley Hills Nursery School from 1950 to 1976 as a teacher, at times assuming the additional role of Assistant Director or Director and serving as a  Board member after retirement. Berkeley Hills Nursery School, one of the first parent cooperative preschools in the country,* was guided by the educational philosophy of  Katherine Whiteside Taylor, a pioneer in parent/child education. Whiteside Taylor believed that children benefitted from a learning environment that included parents who could be offered the support, counsel, and parenting skills that contributed to a healthy family life.

Beginning in 1978, Rose oversaw a parent cooperative at the Children’s Centers of the Federal Correctional Institution, Pleasanton, and at the San Francisco Country Jail in San Bruno. The program, called Prison Match, provided incarcerated parents and their children ongoing visits and support. Every Sunday for eighteen years Rose and her husband, public health physician Dr. Ralph Weilerstein, picked up the children of inmates, piling up to ten of them in their station wagon, and brought them to the prison facilities for a few hours of supervised learning and play with their parents. Rose, to the occasional consternation of her husband, wouldn’t be deterred from fetching or returning a child whose home was inside a potentially unsafe housing project.

*The school now operates as a private non-profit preschool.

Contributed by Diana Kehlmann, 2013

  • Rose with students (ca.1960s), courtesy Ralph Weilerstein.

  • Rose at Berkeley Hills (ca.1970s), courtesy Ralph Weilerstein.

  • Celebrating a student's birthday (1973), courtesy Ralph Weilerstein.

  • Rose at Berkeley Hills Nursery School (ca. 1974), courtesy Ralph Weilerstein.

  • Rose at Prison Match (ca.1950), courtesy Ralph Weilerstein.

  • Prison Match child's drawing (unknown date), courtesy Ralph Weilerstein.

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society