As August winds down, the school year is ramping up. The youngest children of the Glenn family will be experiencing the excitement, anticipation, and sometimes trepidation that accompanies the first day as Glenn School begins this week. Eager and nervous parents hold the hands of eager and nervous preschoolers and toddlers as they walk into the building. For many, this is their first encounter of the beloved place we call Glenn. We have a lot of ways that our church serves the community, and one of the biggest and most important of these is through the ministry of The Glenn School for Young Children. While there are many wonderful programs that the church offers for family and children - and I am a big supporter of each of them - Glenn School holds a special place in my heart.
As a child, I was nurtured by loving teachers like Mudie Weber as my family was going through a difficult transition. Her constant love and extra attention offered me stability that eased my anxieties - I think she literally rocked with me in the rocking chair every day until I no longer needed it. Glenn School and Glenn Church offered our family a home when we no longer felt welcome at the previous church and preschool where we had been. I have many good memories of preschool and Kindergarten at Glenn and I still have my journals filled with drawings as I began to explore expressing my thoughts and ideas.
As a teenager, I again encountered Glenn School as my mom returned to teach in the Kindergarten. I loved helping in her classroom, which was much more fun than my high school classes.
As a new parent, I couldn’t wait for my daughter to start at Glenn School. Her first experience was in the baby room with Glenn Church member and baby whisperer Nancy Asbury. Her years at Glenn School provided a wonderful foundation she will continue to build upon all her life. Her Kindergarten year at Glenn School was the icing on the cake and truly launched her as person who loves to learn. There was no question that my son would also attend Glenn School, and he is excited to start PreK this week, his fourth year at Glenn School. The talented and caring teachers and staff have supported our family in more ways than I can count, in ways they may never know, and we are forever grateful for their impact on our family.
My story is unique and it is universal. The specifics belong to my family, but the experiences are shared by so many, both church members and members of the community. One thing that I often hear is how at home parents feel at Glenn, both in the school and the church. They know their children are loved and nurtured, encouraged to grow and play and learn. The parents also find a community to share their joys and their fears, their challenges and their triumphs. Words of encouragement or helpful suggestions from other parents going through similar situations can counter discouraging and frustrating feelings. We often only see celebrations shared publicly, contributing to feelings of isolation when things are not going well. A supportive network of parents is crucial to navigate the difficult waters of parenting.
One important aspect of Glenn School is that it is open to families and children of all shapes, sizes, and faiths. Families are embraced, period. There are Christian families, Jewish families, Muslim families, families from different countries and backgrounds, and all are welcome at Glenn. Recently, Glenn School and Glenn Church worked together to provide a place for the child of a refugee family new to the area. What better way to love our neighbor? Glenn School has served to open the door to new families getting connected at Glenn Church. Families who might never have made their way to Glenn Church, have found a home at Glenn School first and felt welcomed as a part of the church also.
I could go on and on about Glenn School, but I want to share one last thing that is so special about Glenn. At Glenn School, play is paramount. Structured and unstructured, children spend their days playing - and learning about life and themselves in the process. They learn how to fill their time with their imagination, settle disagreements between friends, and simply practice everyday skills they need in life. Teachers create and facilitate situations that allow children to learn to be kind, make good choices, and respect others - things we could all use reminders of in these polarizing and contentious times. Academic learning comes through play - and the skills and concepts learned are better retained because they are gained through creativity and experience. Children leave Glenn School prepared for whatever learning situation they will experience next - and they had fun in the process. The playground is an excellent facilitator of that imaginative and physically-challenging play - for children at both Glenn School and Glenn Church. As we look to the exciting new plans for our playground, we hope that everyone in the Glenn Church and Glenn School community will support the effort to bring that dream to life through donations to the playground fund. The new playground will serve not only the children of today, but hopefully their children as well.
Our Glenn Church mission statement proclaims that we are “committed to loving God and loving neighbor….” Whether being loved in the nursery, experiencing thought-provoking lessons in Sunday School, raising their voices in song in choir, relaxing with friends each day in After School, playing basketball, skating, participating in service projects, or learning each day at Glenn School, children are active participants in that mission, both as givers and receivers. Glenn School is only one of the ways in which Glenn Church shares the love of God with the community, but it is a powerful one in terms of the impact on the lives of the families who walk through our doors, year after year. I know our family has felt God’s loving presence through the ministry of the Glenn School, both when I was a child as well as now when I am a parent. I hope and pray that this amazing ministry can impact the lives of families in our community for countless years to come.