We are excited to have Mary Rigdon as our Assistant Director this year at Aldersgate. Some of you may recognize Ms. Mary because she has been a beloved teacher at our preschool for many years. Don’t worry, she is still teaching in the classroom, but she is also helping in the office to support our teachers and our families. Ms. Mary wanted to introduce herself to everyone!
Hello! I would like to introduce myself and tell you a little about my role at Aldersgate Preschool. My name is Mary Rigdon, and I am beginning my 15th year at Aldersgate. I taught in the Blue class up until last year, when I moved over to the Red class. Prior to working in this school, I taught first grade and then stayed home with my three children for several years. I began teaching here when my youngest daughter was in Purple class. I was excited to get back into the classroom and this program offered a perfect fit for me, allowing me to be home for my children both before and after school each day.
This year I will continue teaching in the Red class on Mondays and Wednesdays while also beginning in my role as the Assistant Director at Aldersgate. You can find me in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am excited to work on curriculum development for our school, provide teacher in-services, and support our teachers, students, and parents in a variety of ways throughout the school year. I’ve gotten to know and work with many wonderful families during my years here and I look forward to getting to know many more!
Saturday was our Ice Cream Social and it was so fun to see all of our families enjoying themselves! This morning the children were so excited to come in and tell us all about their favorite parts of the event. Not being able to have our Ice Cream Social last year, it made it extra special to all be together this year!
Here is a glimpse into all of the fun we had!
We want to thank all of the people that worked hard to make sure this day was a success. Thank you to Julia Willhite and the rest of our board members who organized such a great day! Thank you for organizing all of our donations, scooping ice cream, setting everything up, and so much more. Thank you to our amazing Aldersgate staff for helping set up our activities and making sure the day ran smoothly. Thank you to everyone who provided baked goods for our bake sale. We sold a record number of goodies this year! Thank you to Stepping Stones KC for providing entertainment. Our preschoolers loved being musicians! Thank you to the boy scouts for setting up an amazing box maze, serving ice cream, and cleaning up at the end of the day!
We also want to thank all of the wonderful people and organizations who donated to our event:
Abbott Insurance Amazeum Andys Frozen Custard Anonymous Aldersgate Family AquaTots B&B Theaters Backyard Specialists Blackbob Pet Hospital Blade and Timber Board and Brush Bocks Steam Star Botanica Bret’s Automotive Ceramic Cafe Charlie’s Car Wash Chick-Fil-A Chicken N Pickle CocoBolos Cosentinos Costco Lenexa Crown Center Culvers Cyndi Mawhiney Dairy Queen Denver Museum of Nature and Science Denver Zoo Dick’s Sporting goods Emery Sapp and Sons Enterprise Bank Exploration Place Wichita Feeny’s Hallmark Fetchers Play and Stay Freddys HyVee Iowa Science Center Jersey Mike’s Johnson County Museum Johnson County Parks and Rec Junque Drawer Lowes Magic House St Louis Main Event
MAK Management Museum at Prairiefire Museum of World Treasures Nothing Bundt Cakes Olathe Parks and Rec Olathe Parks and Rec Overland Park Arboretum Paint Glaze and Fire Paint Nail Bar Powell Gardens Purpose Play QT Rainbow Play Rock N Brews RoKC Ryan Lawn Scheels Sedgwick Zoo Silver Dollar City Six Flags St Louis Tanganyika Tastebuds Kitchen The Facial Bar The Hewlett Family The Peanut The Roltgen Family The Yellow Barn Theater in the Park Torchy’s Tacos Tropical Smoothie Union Station Victory Auto Group KC Well Wilderness Wonderscope Yellow Brick Bakery Yogurtini
My favorite parts of my day are when I get to walk around the classrooms and see what everyone is doing. I wanted to give you all a glimpse into what a day at our preschool looks like!
When I walked into our Discovery Days class this morning, they were having their work time. This is a time where kids can play and explore everything that is set up in the room. The teachers regularly switch out the toys, so there is always something new! This is a perfect time for our kids to practice their social skills as well as develop language skills. Our teachers had also set out an activity that the kids could practice stringing objects. This is a perfect activity to enhance fine motor skills and strengthen their hand muscles!
After work time, our Discovery Days class had circle time. Each child has a spot with a symbol that they know is their own to sit on during story time. Our class read a fun story about a tractor and they even got to help act out the story!
Preschool Lite was learning about magnets today. Each child had an object and had to guess whether it was magnetic or not. Then they got to test their object to see if their prediction was correct. It was fun for them all to try a magnetic object so they could test out what a magnetic pull feels like!
After their magnet activity, Preschool Lite transitioned into snack time. They first said the “Superman Prayer” to thank God for their food. They all had to watch for their name to see when it was their time to wash their hands. Our two and three year olds are doing a great job with name recognition! When it was their turn, each child washed their hands and found a seat to have their snack. This helps to foster independence in our young kids. Ms. Michelle made delicious and healthy chocolate chip cookies that our kids all enjoyed!
Our Yellow class has started their cooking unit. Last week they made chef hats, and this week our kids were able to make their own pizzas! Through this activity, our three and four year olds are able to practice following a recipe and following directions. It is also a lot of fun! Our kids loved getting to eat their own pizzas as a snack today!
Later in the morning, our Yellow class broke up into two small groups. While one group enjoyed eating their pizzas, the other group went to large motor. They used scooters to have a pizza relay!
When I first walked into the Blue class, they were in the middle of their morning circle time. This is the perfect time for our classes to build a strong community and empathy for each other. They also reinforce skills they have been working on during this time. Our four year olds graphed which art supplies they like to use.
After morning circle, they transitioned into two small groups. One group read the story for the day, while the other group worked on their journals. Both our Red and Blue class have writing journals that they work on throughout the whole school year. Today’s journal page went along with the book Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton. Our kids got to make a coat of many colors and decide who to give it to. We love to see what our kids come up with on their journal pages!
Our Red class has just started their 5 senses unit. This unit is full of science experiments, so I was excited to witness one today! Our Red class was experimenting with dry ice today. They learned about how dry ice gives off carbon dioxide and they saw how dry ice reacts to different elements.
After their science experiment, our Red class broke into small groups. One group was reading a story about our five senses. The other two were playing different games to help them learn early reading and early math skills. The first game involved matching objects to the letter sound it starts with. The second game involved estimating how many beans were in an egg and then counting and writing the correct number of beans on a white board. Both of these games involved learning while playing and having fun!
Here are some more fun things that were happening at preschool today!
We have been having so much fun with pumpkins this fall. Our preschoolers have been enjoying being able to explore pumpkins in many different ways.
There are many great experiments to do with pumpkins. We enjoyed making a chemical reaction inside of a pumpkin and predicting if a pumpkin will sink or float.
Exploring the inside of a pumpkin is very exciting for our young scientists.
Our preschoolers have loved doing sensory activities with our pumpkins. Pumpkin pounding has been very popular at Aldersgate Preschool for many years. We love putting pumpkin items in our sensory tables too.
Of course, we have to do pumpkin art!
We love pumpkins in preschool! What are some fun things you have done with pumpkins this fall?
As you know, my last day at Aldersgate Preschool is rapidly approaching. I have been feeling very nostalgic about it. I have had many people ask me if I am anxious for this next step in my life. I do look forward to having more time with my family (with the addition of our two newest ones we now have 6 grandkids), working in my garden, reading, finding somewhere to volunteer, and taking many trips (I especially love travelling in the spring and fall). Major milestones like this, however, always get me thinking and looking back at my life.
I remember our early years in marriage and raising young kids. I absolutely loved those years! As you can imagine, I loved molding our family and forming our children’s lives. I did home daycare so we often had up to 10 children at a time. I remember music shows we put on, carnivals for the neighborhood kids, 4th of July parades, and so much more. Those are the big moments. I also remember the day to day. Playing and playing for hours, digging in the sandbox, singing together, gathering with the neighborhood kids to play each afternoon, reading books and then more books, so much cuddle time, . . . . I also remember the harder times; the times I wished the kids would finally be in bed. the times I shoved the kids at my husband when he came home. the squabbles and tantrums (usually from the kids but I have to admit I’ve thrown a few in my day.) While I appreciated the chance to be home with my kids I also wished for more. We were very tight financially and I often thought my life would be so much better if/when we had . . . or could do . . .
I remember our kids school years. I was still doing daycare for some of it so we did those extra things like a food fight on the driveway, a neighborhood Olympics, wading kickball games, lots of sleep-overs, themed birthday parties and more. I also remember our kids probably watched way to much TV. I remember wondering if I was doing enough. We still didn’t have much money so I thought our kids were missing out because we couldn’t take big vacations, give our middle child the horse riding lessons she begged for . . . We couldn’t live in the big houses many of their friends lived in. Again, I wished for so much. I was sure those things would make my life better.
As our kids have grown and began their own careers and families, I have truly enjoyed becoming friends with them and not just their mom. I’ll admit I may feel that friendship thing more than they do – you know I’m cool enough to be their friend. (right?) Again, though, I have walked through that time wishing for more; more free time to do whatever I wanted, the ability to do extravagant things for the kids and to just worry less. (You know, are the kids going to find their best place in life?, college, weddings . . .)
I have been at Aldersgate Preschool since April 2002. That’s a long time. Truly my time here has been fabulous! I’ve enjoyed the special projects like building a playground, adapting to technology needs as they arose, building a large store of supplies and equipment for our teachers and so many more. I have especially enjoyed the day to day things; playing with kids, laughing at the things they say (almost daily), watching children grow in skills, building relationships with kids and families, working with people I adore and respect, hearing a child’s first question about God and so much more. I have always had wishes for more too, though. I just new a few things would make this job perfect; a handyman or custodian on site (I wouldn’t have learned to replace a toilet flapper though), rooms with bathrooms connected to them, a human resource department to ask questions about staff issues, etc.
I heard a new song recently that really caught my attention; Getting Good, by Lauren Alaina. I’ll attach it below but here are a few of the lyrics:
Once I fall in love, then I’ll be happy But then you fall in love and there’s still a hole Once I get some money, it’ll all be easy But then you get that money, you still feel broke
Once I get a little older, I won’t worry Then you get older and it don’t feel like it should I’m thinking once I learn to grow right where I’m planted Maybe that’s when life starts getting good
This caused me to pause again: to rethink my life, to look back and truly appreciate the good that I had, to accept the phase I am in and just ENJOY. I encourage each of you to grow right where you are planted! Enjoy the moment and phase of life you are in.
I have often told our preschool parents to enjoy these days because they will go by sooo fast!
The song ends with these words.
I’m thinking once I learn to soak up every moment I’ll realize my life’s already good
I’ll realize my life’s already good Thank God that my life’s already good
And truly, it is good!
My years at Aldersgate have flown by. I have been blessed to play a small part in so many children’s lives. Many people have said I gave so much to Aldersgate Preschool but I definitely feel like this place, these kids, our staff (so many over the years) and our families (again, so many) have blessed me!
Yes, retirement will be good but all my years before have been exceptional. Each of you played a part in making them great!
For my own benefit I am including a few of my favorite pictures from my years here. Thank you for all the wonderful memories.
Although many things are different this school year at Aldersgate Preschool, we have learned that not all change is bad. We are happy that our preschool has been able to remain open this school year and our kids are loving being able to play and learn with their friends!
Our children have been resilient to all of the changes, and we hope to be a place full of love and consistency for our kids and families during uncertain times.
We are so thankful for our wonderful teachers who have handled this year with such grace! The joy our teachers have while being with children is seen even under their masks.
We want to thank all of our families for being so supportive during this school year!
I wanted to give everyone a chance to get to know me a little better. My name is Megan Lynn and I am excited to be working beside Cyndi as a co-director this year. I am already learning so much about this wonderful preschool!
I’ll start with telling you a little about my professional background. I grew up in the Olathe area and went to Olathe East High School. After I graduated, I attended Baker University and majored in Elementary Education. I also received my provisional licensure in Special Education. I knew from the very beginning that early education and working with kids of all needs was my passion!
I taught Kindergarten in the Turner School District in KCK for my first three years, and then I taught three years in the Gardner-Edgerton School District. I cherish the memories that I made at both of these schools with all of my Kindergarteners. These years helped me to realize how important the early years are for instilling a love for learning!
My husband, Branton, and I met at the wedding of our best friends. He was the best man and I was a bridesmaid. About a month after the wedding, Branton asked his friend to set us up on a double date, and the rest is history! We got married in April of 2016 and bought our first house in Gardner. Last summer, we moved out to Spring Hill, KS with our dog, Lorenzo. In September, our son Colton was born!
Colton’s story has been a challenging one, but one I am passionate about telling! He was born with a Congenital Heart Defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries. Basically, his two main arteries were switched, so oxygen was not getting where it needed to go. Colton was undiagnosed until hours after his birth, so his first day of life was very scary. Thankfully God was looking out for Colton, and a doctor was able to quickly diagnose his condition. He was taken to Children’s Mercy right away and had open heart surgery at 9 days old. He experienced many complications after the surgery that prolonged his stay, but after 99 days in the hospital, we were finally able to bring our baby boy home! He came home with a NG feeding tube, but after a month was fully eating on his own. He continues to make big growth and hit developmental milestones. We were so excited to celebrate Colton’s first birthday on September 10th! We are so proud of our heart warrior!
I feel so blessed to have found Aldersgate Preschool. With Colton’s unique situation, I was home with him for almost his whole first year. I was trying to decide what my next adventure would be when I heard about the director position. My mom had taught preschool when I was growing up and I had learned a lot about how important these first years are for children. My years in Kindergarten have taught me how we need to set a love for lifelong learning right from the very start. I loved how Aldesgate focused on learning through play and building a relationship with God. After asking many questions and spending time praying about it, my family decided this would be a perfect fit for us!
These first few days meeting and getting to know your kids have been so much fun! Adersgate is special place filled with amazing teachers that truly care and love the kids. I feel blessed to be have found this preschool and get to know all of you!
We finally got to have our back-to-school staff meeting. I always like to start the year learning about something relevant to where we are, and what we are doing. This year our focus was on Growth Mindset. If you haven’t heard this term before, it is a positive way to approach struggle and difficulty. Seeing the world as possibility. Carol Dweck is the leading author in this area. She has spent her professional career studying how people develop a fixed or growth mindset. Here is what Dweck says about Growth Mindset,
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
Even children as young as four years old showed a tendency toward either a fixed or growth mindset. In a research study they gave four year old children puzzles. Once the children mastered the first set they offered the children a choice of working on more complex puzzles or completing the ones they had mastered again. The ones with a growth mindset chose to learn as they struggled to complete the more challenging puzzles. One girl exclaimed, “I’m dying to figure them out!” In essence, a person with a growth mindset sees struggles and set-backs as an opportunity to learn.
We have definitely had some struggles and set-backs with this whole pandemic. Thus, the reason I felt this would be a great area for us to focus on Growth Mindset. We usually have some sort of get-to-know-each-other activity at the beginning of our meetings. This year each staff member had a flower picture on one side of a play coin. They used these to find their matching partner and then they each shared about the hardest thing they have ever gone through. Then I asked them to flip it and think about what they learned from that hard experience. “There are always two sides to every coin.”
So we then thought about what we have learned (and continue to learn) as we faced Covid-19 and all the difficulties that has come with it. The teachers quickly thought of several things:
flexibility, new technology: zoom, seesaw, google docs, etc., adaptability, faith, patience.
I mentioned that the thing I noticed through it all (regarding Aldersgate Preschool) is we continued to focus on the children; what they need, how to keep them safe, what would help them the most, etc. It was with that focus that we made decisions, changed schedules and so much more. This has been our focus for years and it continued to guide us as we faced this new struggle.
As always, I had several quotes included in the presentation. Here are a few I especially liked:
Growth mindset can apply to our intellect, our artistic abilities, our athletic abilities and our social/emotional abilities. Most people fall at various points of a spectrum with this different areas. Our staff took a little “quiz” to determine where they fit on this scale. If you are interested in knowing more about your mindset, you can link to that quiz HERE. It is also interesting to think about your beliefs regarding the different areas listed above. I’ve often heard people say, “I’m not artistic.” But, have you tried taking a class to learn how to see objects with specific lines, shadows, etc.
We also talked about the frontal lobe development of the brain. This is the area that drives our emotions (such as perseverance) and our organization skills (such as knowing the next step, thinking of a new way to do something, etc.) This frontal lobe is in the very beginning stages of developing while children are with us. It actually takes about 20 years before the frontal love is fully mature. So what does this mean as we think about the young children we teach. Teacher’s helped me think about how to finish the following statements:
Because our kids are in the baby stages of growing their frontal lobes they will:
make mistakes have meltdowns push limits be distracted constantly changing challenge the way we think
So, then, we need to:
be flexible be understanding be patient be supportive engage them know their developmental level be persistent in finding ways that
reach them remember they are doing things with a positive intent educate their parents give reminders
Megan then talked with the staff about how we go about teaching Growth Mindset ideas to our little ones. She talked about giving the children a new way of saying things:
Big Life Journal has a ton of information on their Growth Mindset blog. I would suggest you take a look HERE.
Megan said that their are many videos available that have a growth mindset theme. Sesame Street offers a good one HERE. For those of you that like Bruno Mars, this will be a fun one for you.
Megan shared how she used this book to help children realize that we all struggle doing something while others struggle with something different.
Then each teaching team took a book or resource and and had a chance to come up with their own ways to use it, or to develop a lesson plan. It was great to hear their ideas and I will look forward to seeing some of these activities used with your children this year.
We also had a devotion and prayer focusing on being able to bloom right where we are. Each year we honor a staff member (or two) that has shown grace and perserverance as she worked though a difficult time. We call this our “Dancing in the Rain Award.” Jennie Nichols, an Aldersgate Alum, died as a teenager from Osteosarcoma. We give this award in her honor.
We sort of felt like we ALL deserved this award; having gotten this far through this pandemic. I think maybe the whold world deserves this kind of award.
We did, however, select Ms. Kendra as our true recipient. Kendra has worked so hard as we have changed our programming, re-enrolled families, given refunds, managed the paper work of all this, spear-headed the effort to apply for and receive a PPP Loan and . . . . . . . All the extra challenges were met, faced and figured out. I don’t know what I would have done without Kendra here this year!
We ended with each person making their own Growth Mindset flowers. The picked a favorite quote that shows a growth mindset and then also included areas they are currently growing themselves. I loved how they all turned out – so different but also working together so well. This is fitting as this is how I believe our Aldersgate Staff are in general;
We had a full crowd for both of our Christmas worships this past Saturday. Luckily the snowy weather waited so we could fit this in! This is truly one of my favorite things (and one of the things I will most miss once I retire.) The sound of children singing songs that tell the story of Jesus’ birth is precious to me and to all the teachers. I hope this short, child-centered worship touched your hearts as well.
This year the message and the children’s story focused on the animals, During the message the animals each brought something for baby Jesus. The donkey carried them to Bethlehem. The cow shared her manger and the hay to make a soft bed. The sheep shared a blanket made from her wool. And the dove shared her sweet song to sooth Jesus to sleep.
With snow on the ground this week we continue to have our morning music time (I get to kind-of be the indoor recess option.) I love that children continue to ask for songs from our Wriggly Nativity story. This story has definitely made a mark on their hearts as well. If you were unable to attend, or you want to have your children share the songs with your extended family, you can find the song recordings on our website WHAT’S HAPPENING page. Just simply click on those words and the link will take you there.
We are all so grateful for your generous donations to our mission; Mission Southside’s BackSnack program. I know your kindness will be felt far into the new year!