A photo of the early students of Farmington Presbyterian Preschool.

A photo of the early students of Farmington Presbyterian Preschool.

Photo provided by Farmington Presbyterian Preschool


Farmington Presbyterian Preschool celebrates 50 years

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published April 16, 2018

 Students participate in activities in a pre-kindergarten classroom April 11.

Students participate in activities in a pre-kindergarten classroom April 11.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Amelia Degen, 4, paints in a pre-kindergarten classroom.

Amelia Degen, 4, paints in a pre-kindergarten classroom.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FARMINGTON HILLS — What did a group of young moms do in 1967 when they saw that their church’s classroom at First Presbyterian Church of Farmington was underutilized?

They opened up a nursery school, obtained state licensing and got to work.

Farmington Presbyterian Preschool opened to serve community children over 50 years ago. 

First Presbyterian Church of Farmington approved and supported the preschool, and the mothers acquired state licensing in 1968.

First Presbyterian congregant Mary Carson, a former Farmington Presbyterian Preschool teacher for 20 years, said she is proud of the school’s history and its reach in the community.

“I was there a long time. I’ve made some fabulous friends and met some wonderful parents — one of the pluses of that small school,” she said during a phone interview, adding that she recalls one family with five children at the school. “Every time (the mom) is pregnant, we give her a hug and say, ‘We get to have another one of your children.’”

The school’s “children” will be visiting the school in another capacity — some with children and families of their own — during an open house 3-6 p.m. May 6 at the church, 26165 Farmington Road. The event, celebrating the 50th year of the preschool, will feature a bounce house, face painting, light refreshments and more.

“It does show you the longevity (of the preschool), and it is really world of mouth,” she said, adding that there were times when people thought the preschool would not survive another day because other daycares and church preschools had opened, but people kept sending their children. 

“Once they’ve been part of our school, they realize it is a good fit.”

Michelle Kreager, the second-year president of the Parent Teacher Association at Farmington Presbyterian Preschool, said the open house will be a reunion of sorts.

It will be about “reconnecting families from the past,” she said at the colorful, active preschool filled with posters and crafts touting positive messages on the walls April 11. “And we’re sending invitations to all the teachers. I think, mostly, our idea was reconnecting families; getting us, old and new, to celebrate being in the community for 50 years.”

Kreager, whose 7-year-old daughter used to attend and whose 5-year-old son currently attends, said that her family has been at the school for three years.

“I wasn’t happy with my daughter’s original preschool choice. I thought it was very disconnected. … It didn’t feel like anyone wanted to talk — no sense of community,” Kreager said.

Carson said there is no shortage of community at the preschool, where she began as a substitute teacher in 1989. She occasionally still comes in to fill in.

“The job allowed me to be with my family, yet still be part of the teaching experience,” which has always been very special, she said.

Carson’s daughter, now 34, was a student there at 4 years old the first year Carson taught there.

“I made it clear that I’m mom, but in the class, (she was) one of my students,” Carson said, adding that she gave her daughter a signal to let her know when she meant business. “If I pulled on my ear it meant, ‘I love you, but you have to be a student now.’”

Carson said that the preschool has seen noticeable changes in family involvement; in its earlier days, only moms brought the children.

Now, dads and extended family members bring their children, attend field trips and more to “spread the wealth a little bit.”

The programs, for 2 1/2- to 5-year-olds, revolve around learning experiences that benefit a child’s social, emotional, physical, creative and intellectual growth, according to the school’s website. Open enrollment begins each January and is on a first-come first-served basis.

Over the last 50 years, the nursery-school-turned-preschool has taught nearly 2,000 children.

Kim Kucharski co-director and teacher of two classes at the school, said that her 12 years of experience have been wonderful.

“I love coming to work every day. Children have so much to teach us as adults, and it’s fun to see them learn so much … and looking through their eyes and at how they see the world is really fun,” she said, adding that their school is a place where they like to meet kids where they are so they can develop at their own pace.

“When it first opened, it was an outreach to help children who weren’t able to attend a preschool and started as an outreach to help them attend from the church,” Kucharski said. “Back then, a lot of people didn’t attend preschool 50 years ago, and they just knew it was a need in the community to reach young children to use play as a means to develop kids.”

For more information, go to www.farmington-pres.org/farmington-presbyterian-preschool.

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