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North Bay church adds a preschool

Superior parents have another opportunity this fall for educating their tiny tykes. North Bay Community Church plans to offer early childhood education with a preschool program and a family class modeled after the Superior School District's forme...

Superior parents have another opportunity this fall for educating their tiny tykes.

North Bay Community Church plans to offer early childhood education with a preschool program and a family class modeled after the Superior School District's former Shooting Stars and Early Childhood Family Education programs.

Coordinator Tracy Henegar approached the church elders about offering a preschool when the school district started talking about eliminating Shooting Stars.

"It's something I've been exploring for awhile," she said.

Henegar is the former director of Shooting Stars and Early Childhood Family Education at the Superior School District.

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Both programs were effectively eliminated from the district but live on in some fashion. The Superior YMCA is offering Shooting Stars this fall and the Family Resource Center, a countywide program housed in the district, is expanding to incorporate Early Childhood Family Education-style programming.

When the YMCA agreed to take over Shooting Stars that put a hold on the North Bay preschool for awhile, Henegar said.

However, when the church saw that YMCA would raise rates for Shooting Stars, it started planning once more.

The school district offered Shooting Stars for $8.25 per day. The YMCA will offer the preschool for $9 for YMCA members and $10 for non-members per day. The YMCA offers scholarships to families who cannot afford the program.

This cost is comparable to other preschools, but isn't affordable for some families in the community, Henegar said.

North Bay is offering its preschool program for $7 per day, she said.

Both the North Bay and YMCA preschools serve children ages 3-5.

The North Bay preschool will not be licensed. Church preschools do not need licensing in their first year if they last four or fewer hours per week or parents are present, Henegar said.

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Even without a license, North Bay's preschool plans to be high quality, she said.

The preschool teacher, Amanda Guttormson, is a licensed teacher and earned her bachelor's degree with emphasis in early childhood education. Henegar, who will lead the parent discussions, is pursuing a master's degree in child development, she said.

North Bay's preschool will be offered for two hours Wednesdays and Fridays with a family education component for two hours on Tuesdays.

For the Tuesday classes, parents will work with their children for 30 minutes followed by a parent discussion and child activity time.

"That's really where my heart is to work with families as a whole," Henegar said.

This will be North Bay's first preschool program. If it is successful, North Bay would seek a license for the future, Henegar said.

This year is testing the waters to see what is needed in the community. In the future North Bay could also add infant or toddler classes, she said.

"I think there's a huge need," she said. "There's always been a tremendous need out there."

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The congregation supports the preschool and feels its a good mission for the church, said Tom Fennessey, church elder.

The church is vacant for most of the week. A preschool is a way to put the building to good use while benefiting the community, he said.

"We just felt that the preschool would be very good for the church, Fennessey said.

The preschool and family education programs will not be Bible-based. Instead, the programs will be value-based.

As part of the preschool experience, children will learn about values through games, stories and songs. Parents will learn how to reinforce the values their children learn in preschool during the parent discussion, Henegar said.

Parents are the greatest impact in their children's lives and are the ones who must reinforce values, she said.

The parent discussion will also focus on other topics once covered by the Early Childhood Family Education program in the Superior school district. Parents will speak about everyday issues such as potty training, nutrition and child-friendly locations in the community, Henegar said.

The preschool class will include typical early childhood education components and follow standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, she said.

North Bay plans to enroll between six and 16 preschoolers ages 3-5 in its inaugural program. Parents with 2-year-olds can also enroll for the parent education Tuesdays. Parents can enroll their children for one to all three days of the program.

The preschool opens in September. North Bay plans to hold an open house for the Child and Family Education program from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 29 at North Bay Community Church, 1316 E. Fifth St.

For more information, call Tracy Henegar at 398-7484.

Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram.com .

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