By Audra H. Anders for The Aha! Connection
Update: I just realized I failed to mention the amazing Liz Green. She was so wonderful to me and my family when I had preschoolers at DBP and her daughter Candace even taught my youngest in the 4 year old class! Liz was out of the office on the date of my tour but she was the person who spear headed the science lab and carefully chose the animals and everything to include in it. She hopes to one day incorporate a preschool garden. She started teaching at DBP when her daughters were in the 4 year and 3 year old classes. She later became Associate Director the year her daughter Candace started teaching there, and was still there while her grand-daughter attended Dunwoody Baptist Preschool! Wish I could have seen you on my tour day Liz!
By now you may have noticed that I am getting out and about a little more. I am still being Covid-cautious but am craving community interaction. Therefore, I have offered to visit a few of our community business and share what I learn during my visits. No offense to the others, but my favorite visit thus far was to Dunwoody Baptist Preschool! I had planned to visit for an hour but ended up being there for well more than TWO hours. I took sooooo many photos and wanted to keep viewing the photos and videos, so I ended up making an iMovie to share with you! (Be nice – I’m still new to video editing!)
I am grinning from ear to ear just thinking about all the adorable little kiddos that were so excited for me to video and photograph them. Seeing visitors is rare for this year’s students because due to Covid-precautions they have had to practically eliminate visitors from their schedule. But I can assure you they are still having fun! Speaking of Covid precautions, DBC is committed to being open during the pandemic. They follow CDC guidelines to minimize risk of exposure to Covid such as: keeping class sizes small and manageable, wearing masks during carpool time, temperature checks prior to entering the preschool and limiting visitors in the preschool facilities during the preschool day.
Both of my boys attended Dunwoody Baptist Preschool. Way back then, families new to the preschool had to CAMP OUT OVERNIGHT to ensure our kids would get a spot in a class. My husband still laughs about having to do that for our boys. It was FREEZING cold that night. Lesley Kammerer, the DBC Preschool Director assured me that nobody must camp out anymore. In fact, the amazing Madhu Kumari is still there and has automated everything, making DBP extremely tech savvy.
One funny thing I remember back from when my boys were in preschool is that Dunwoody Baptist Preschool was very popular because of the longer school day. Many area preschools end around noon. DBP ends at 1 and they feed your kids a lunch (brought from home) before you pick them up! DBP’s preschool day is from 9:00am -1:00pm with Early Morning, Extended Day, and Enrichment class options. They also offer convenient carpool drop off and pick up for children in 3-year-old classes – Young 5’s.
I was overjoyed to see my friend/neighbor and youngest son’s former 3-year-old class teacher (he’s now 19), Miriam Buechter, teaching a music class. Miriam has not aged a bit and is still so so sweet with the kids and had their full attention in music class. She also created a unique Bible curriculum just for the DBC preschool. Her Bible curriculum is full of fun, interactive and meaningful activities that allow young children to experience God’s truth, power, and love. The Bible curriculum is the cornerstone for all learning at Dunwoody Baptist Preschool.
As Lesley and I meandered through campus so many memories kept flooding back for me. Like the day Mrs. Buechter had to call to tell me Walt had given himself a haircut during art (it was a lovely cut, not)…..and the day Mrs. Ruffenach, Troy’s Young 5’s teacher, called to let me know that Troy had punched a certain girl in the class because she wouldn’t stop trying to kiss him. Oh, my.
Both of my boys have summer birthdays so we opted to keep them at Dunwoody Baptist for an extra year before starting Kindergarten at Vanderlyn. The Young 5’s Program at Dunwoody Baptist Preschool nurtured and challenged my boys in developmentally appropriate ways while allowing them time to enjoy traditional kindergarten activities as they increased academic skills, self-confidence and eased into social relations. The DBP Young 5’s curriculum is Saxon-based and integrated with their wonderful and fun Bible curriculum. Young 5’s is not another year of preschool. The curriculum develops language arts, science, social studies, and math skills aligned with Georgia Kindergarten standards. The pace of the day and smaller class size are the cornerstones of the program.
I won’t continue to bore you with my memories, but I will describe a few things that stood out to me:
- I had forgotten how HUGE all the classrooms are. Their class sizes are small and the classrooms are big! Every classroom is filled with fun art projects, a home living center, reading nook, science table, art area and, of course, lots of age-appropriate toys!
- They now have a classroom dedicated just to SCIENCE. They have live bunnies, frogs, toads, fish, and eyelash crusted geckos. Plus, magnets and magic mirrors and so much more! The beautiful Science Lab with wall murals painted by one of the preschool teachers, Ming-Su Wang, is one of the most active places on the preschool campus. Ms. Paula’s creative lessons highlight the many wonders of science for her young learners. (side note: Ms. Paula was my Walter’s first teacher at DBP. She is awesome!)
- The teachers seem to be having just as much fun as the kids. They are loving and kind and put so much effort into their classroom decor and activities. Lesley (the director and an old friend of mine who I met when her daughter Kathryn and my son Walt were in several DBP classes together) knew every.single.kid. in every.single.class by name…yep everyone. Impressive.
- The church is going through a massive renovation called “Project Main Street“. You can read about it here but the sneak peeks I got at the new decor and turning the outdoor wind tunnels into indoor space is going to be great! The preschool benefits from being able to have classes in the newly renovated DBC Children’s area and Rally rooms, the DBC Sports Center gym and soccer fields.
- The preschool also has a relationship with The Dunwoody School for the Arts located on the church campus through the after-school Enrichment Program. The preschool children may take Enrichment classes in Little Ballerinas, Preschool Piano, Beginning Combo and Little Maestros.
- All DBP children not only learn and explore within the classroom, but they also enjoy music and science classes, gym, playground time and chapel.
- Speaking of gym…I didn’t personally tour the gym last week, but I have fond memories of my boys and their carpool mates going on and on and on about “getting to ride the turtles in gym”. DBP is famous for these fun riding toys and I so wish I had a picture of one to share. Gym time is always fun with their amazing Gym teacher, Ms. Faith. Ms. Faith, who has run the DBC Sports Center since my boys were there, brings her love of sports and fitness to the preschoolers. On any given gym class day, you may find children running an obstacle course, learning fundamentals of basketball, practicing yoga poses or playing with her giant parachute.
When I asked Lesley what one thing she wanted me to be sure to share about DBP … this is what she said:
“We feel honored and blessed to continue to be in session and in person to support our community families and their need for preschool. We plan to open all our current classes in person for the 2021-22 school year. We are committed to encouraging our early learners to grow academically, but even more importantly spiritually. We, as teachers and staff, care deeply that all of our students know who God is and that He loves them unconditionally.”
Online registration for new students is going on now for 2021-22. To see all that is going on at Dunwoody Baptist Preschool or to put your name on the Waitlist for Enrollment, please visit the website. Click the Online Portal tab and then click Waitlist.
If I had it to do all over again, I would make the same choice to send my babies to Dunwoody Baptist Church Preschool. Time flies way too fast so hug your littles tight and smooch their sweet cheeks!
Dunwoody Baptist Preschool
1445 Mt. Vernon Road
Dunwoody, GA 30338