Our Philosophy

We believe children feel the most secure, learn best, and are the happiest when they can explore a diverse range of indoor and outdoor activities which our experienced and caring staff offer in an open setting.

We find value in having all ages play together. Of course, younger children will learn from older but we also believe that older can learn from younger, for example, by being more nurturing and more patient, and that they can realize that they too were at that age once. We remember one five-year-old remarking, “When I was a little kid…”

We strive for verbalization and socialization — we want the children to get along with one another and to express their feelings. Resolve their conflicts through words, not hurtful deeds. To that end, we strictly disallow fighting games and weapons play, and discourage superhero references in clothing, shoes, and Share toys.

While we don’t stress academics, we don’t ignore them either. Children learn best through play — it is, after all, their work. To that end, we do a lot of pre-reading, pre-writing, and pre-math hands-on activities. Children who graduate from here are fully prepared for kindergarten. See the links below on the importance of play.

Director & Founders

Portrait of Anna

Anna Rodrigues (Director)

Anna has a degree in child development. She is a certified post partum doula. She has worked in infant care, toddler care and with special needs children. She has also taught parent education at the adult school level. Anna brings a wealth of experience to the Playschool.

Photo of young bernice and joe

Bernice and Joe Humbert (Founders)

Bernice started the Playschool in 1980 with 2 children on a simple philosophy: that ‘play’ was not a dirty word, but in fact the key to the way children learn, and perhaps more importantly, the way to teach children on how to get along with one another. In 1981, she recruited her husband, Joe, to join her on their incredible journey which lasted 36 years. Together, they nurtured over 600 children of Oakland and the East Bay community. We honor Bernice’s vision, her ceaseless energy, and her love of children.

Bernice had earned a degree in Child Development when she started doing child care in their home. In 1992, she received a Director’s accreditation when Bernice and Joe converted their home into a center. She was named an Early Childhood Mentor Teacher and studied child care systems in Sweden and Wales.

Joe earned his Master’s degree in Physics. Since joining the business in 1981, he has written and published pre-school software, earned a Certificate in Technical Communication, wrote and maintained the Playschool’s first website, and pursued film writing. In 2013, he published his first novel [http://www.josephmhumbert.com/] and continues to write.

They have two grown sons, Michael and David, who are alumni of the Playschool.


Portrait of Rebecca


Rebecca started her time with our playschool as a teacher’s aid working with the Train Room Group eight years ago. She is now the lead teacher in the Big Room Group. As the mother of four young adult children, Rebecca has volunteered and worked in classroom settings for over 15 years. She is currently continuing her education in Early Childhood Development at Merritt College.

Portait of Jenny


Jenny is the teacher’s aid in the Big Room Group, and has been at Bernice & Joe Playschool for almost a year. Before joining our playschool staff, she was a volunteer in a childcare working primarily with special needs students. Like several of our teachers, she grew up with her mother running a childcare home. Jenny has an associate’s degree in medical assisting, and her toddler son will soon be attending the playschool.

Portrait of Martina


Martina has been with Bernice & Joe Playschool since 2006. She started as a teacher’s aid, and after continuing her education in Early Childhood Development, moved into the lead teacher role for the Train Room Group. Martina has 3 children of her own, and one of her children is a playschool alumni.

Portait of Nancy


Nancy began teaching at Bernice & Joe Playschool two years ago, as a teacher’s aid in our afternoon program. She has since completed her teacher’s permit at Merritt College, and is now a teacher’s aid working with the Train Room Group. Nancy is also preparing for a transfer in fall 2017 to Cal State East Bay to continue her education in Early Childhood Development.

Portrait of Trina


Trina has been our afternoon program’s lead teacher for five years. She has a Clear Multiple Subject Credential that allows her to teach students in grades twelve and below, including preschool. Trina started her teaching career as a volunteer with the Teaching Reading Development Program. She has taught preschool, grades K-5, and children with special needs.


Jen is a substitute teacher, and part time afternoon teacher at the playschool. She is currently a student at Cal State East Bay, studying Psychology with a minor in Child Development. Jen has been caring for children in the classroom, as well as home care, for 5 years.