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Well, we are ramping up to get back in the saddle here at Open Arms for a brand new year. Once again, here I go asking where the summer went. My summer had planned events that kept me busy, but also some not-so-planned that definitely threw a wrench in things, but such is life. I do hope summer has been good to all of you!

Every summer we give the classroom a deep cleaning, so that’s part of what I’ve been working on along with administrative things to get ready for the fall. The toys get a deep clean and everything that can be laundered goes home with me for a good washing. I even pulled out screens and scrubbed those down this year! Washing, scrubbing, laundry and paint touch ups—that’s what summer brings for the classroom. Tom scrubbed the carpet, and as I write this, the tile floor is getting polished. I love a fresh new classroom to greet our families for Orientation night, which was on August 18. It’s always a fun time to meet the new families and reconnect with those who are returning from last year. We really enjoy seeing students from years past at Orientation with their little sibling who’s about to start preschool. Those kiddos tell me they want to return to preschool! That warms my heart so much.

We are starting the year with two completely full morning classes, for a total of thirty students. Even without an afternoon class, we have three more students than we had last year. We are still bouncing back from the COVID days, but I fully expect a leap in numbers next year due to the free PreK that will be kicking in fall of 2023. I guess this is the time to use those afternoons to get ready for next year!

We welcome Lani Long back on staff this year in the three-year-old class with me. After her family’s plans to move out of state took a different turn, she just took last year off and is back with us this year! Jennifer Cole will be with me in the PreK class. We are looking forward to a great year with our families, both familiar and new.

We’ve met with a couple of playground consultants as we are starting to look ahead to updating the playground. We keep managing to get approval on the playground with state licensing, but the wooden structure is getting very tired and I’m afraid our “squeaking by” time is going to be up here very soon. We will continue to work through that exciting project and keep you all updated.

Our first day of Preschool is September 6 for our three-year-olds, and PreK starts on September 7. The families are so excited to get their kids started, but we always have just as many tears from moms as we do the kid—or, in most cases, moms cry more than the kids! We will spend that first month getting to know the children and assess where they are with their learning skills so we have a good baseline and know what to focus on.

Say a little prayer that our first weeks of school will be smooth, with calm little people, very few or zero tears, and that the children will see God’s light and love through our nurturing, positive classroom environment. Pray that the children make new friends, and their parents make new friends as well. I love to see the families become good friends through this program right alongside their children. I believe so strongly that these young families need good community, and if we can foster that in their lives, I am so grateful!

Thank you all for your continued support of Open Arms. I wish you could see firsthand all of the little lives that are touched here. When I get inquiries from families who tell me that Open Arms keeps popping up in conversation when they ask friends or acquaintances about preschools, it’s confirmation that we are doing something right here. Onward we go into a new year!

Kandy Wise is the Director of Open Arms Preschool, a ministry of Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You may reach her at 482-1357 or OpenArms@StJohnsFC.org with any questions about the Preschool.