Education Pioneers: CEC Co-Founders Retire After 4 Decades

Photos courtesy Child Educational Center
Elyssa and Eric Nelson have fun at the Child Educational Center’s Oak Grove preschool yard in the early 1980s.

When Eric and Elyssa Nelson founded the Child Educational Center more than 40 years ago, they aimed to create not just a child-care facility but a center to foster the holistic psychological and physical development of children, largely through healthful outdoor play.
“We thought of ourselves as creating a community, not a child-care center. We knew that happy teachers make happy children make happy parents. … We wanted love to be at the center of what we were doing,” said Eric Nelson, who was asked by Caltech and Jet Propulsion Laboratory officials to help expand child-care options for employees and establish a La Cañada Flintridge campus, which opened in 1979.
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