“In graduate school, I needed to take a foreign language class. So I took Fortran,” she said. 

When would knowing code become helpful? When she decided to start her own business in the early 80s and hated all of the off-the-shelf payroll computer programs. She simply created her own program.

Necessity is the mother of invention. And perhaps moms know that best.

coffee with jeanne murphy, pioneering before and after school care in baltimore

Does your child attend before or after school care at an area school? We have one Baltimore mom — in particular — to thank for those services.

The idea of childcare centers was developed in 1943 during World War II, to help support mothers working as welders, riveters, heavy machinery operators, and parachute riggers.  Initially, the then U.S. Department of Education protested against the concept, calling such centers “a danger to parental authority, particularly the mother-child relationship.” But model programs at two Kaiser Portland shipyards persisted, developed to support families with working parents round-the-clock, regardless of when their shift took place. Some children would come after school, play, have supper and sleep until their mothers got off work at 1:30 AM. Other children would come before breakfast and leave before dinner. Schedules were intentionally flexible, designed to provide safe and nurturing environments for children so their mothers could work nearby without worry.

In 1983, Baltimore City only had two before and after school care programs. 

{We’d come a long way, eh?}

With her eldest child about to enter half day kindergarten, Jeanne Murphy was faced with the same hurdle many working parents still hurdle today: what do I do with my child when he ISN’T in school?

She tried a home-based neighborhood daycare. But the provider wasn’t particularly interested in taking the child to school if it was raining or something else came up. Trying to pull double duty and watch her kids while working from home wasn’t really an option then — or even feasible as she was a psychologist working with pediatric cerebral palsy patients at Kennedy Krieger Institute. 

So she quit. And started Open Door Care, a before and after school program at Pine Grove Elementary. There were a handful of students in the program. 2 of them were her own children. 32 years later, Open Door is in 34 Greater Baltimore area locations. 

Coffee with Jeanne Murphy, pioneering before and after school care in #Baltimore - (cool) progeny, #coolprogeny #coffeewith

“We’re really about supporting the whole family,” said Jeanne, over a glass of iced tea at Village Square Cafe last week. {Coincidentally, she drinks it straight. No sugar or sweetener.} 

Open Door, a non-profit organization,  provides a nurturing before and after school environment for children that gives them space to grow as learners and world citizens without a rigid school structure. For example,  when children arrive at the program, they will typically come into the school cafeteria or gym setting and have breakfast or a snack. What happens next is up to them. They have the option of working with a homework coach, participating in one of Open Door’s inquiry-based activity centers (games, arts and crafts, outside play, chilling out with friends, construction zone — to name a few), or even snuggling with a staff member. 

“Some of our little guys come to Open Door before breakfast, when it’s still dark out. Sometimes they just want to curl up in someone’s lap,” said Jeannie. They provide what kids need to grow. Sometimes that’s a snuggle.

Jeanne, a Manhattan-native-turned-Charm-City-lover, has a passion for whole-child education. In 1997, she created Camelot Learning, a math intervention curriculum that involves a manipulative-rich “non-computer” learning environment. The patented lesson plans are correlated to Core Standards and NCTM Standards, and can be used during the school day, after school or in summer learning programs. Designed to make learning magical and transforming for all students. Of course, they are used in Open Door programs. 

What does a Camelot activity look like? Something like rolling up newspapers to measure an intestinal tract. That’s part of a week-long Open Door exploration called “In and Out.” A pint-sizer favorite.

“Kids are absorbing so much,” said Jeanne.  “And yet they don’t even know they’re learning.”

Two businesses, serving on several boards of directors, mom, grandma — Jeanne has a lot of roles to juggle. Yet she knows the value of nurturing her ‘whole’ self, too. It’s as important for adults as it is for kids. How does she kick back? A great book or — even better — a fabulous show. She loves everything about Center Stage or taking the train to NYC for a Broadway show. But like a true Manhattanite,she’ll probably leave the theatre before the encore to get ahead of the crowd. Unless Hugh Jackman is starring. Then she’ll stay until the very end.

So as you’re dropping your child off or picking them from before or after-school care, say a little thanks to Jeanne for giving a third hand to the ball juggling that is modern parenting. Even if your child’s school doesn’t use Open Door as a provider, chances are they have a program in place due in part to Jeanne’s pioneering endeavor to deliver quality, affordable before and after school care in Baltimore. 

Or maybe send her some theatre tickets.


Should we have coffee? Coffee with is a series on (cool) progeny that highlights moms in Baltimore doing (cool) things. Know a mom we should have coffee with? Email Heather at heather AT coolprogeny.com. And sure, we’ll do Iced Tea, too.