Community Preschool Roselawn, a newly reopened ministry of Community Christian Reformed Church in DeMotte, Ind., earned a designation in that state’s quality rating and improvement system for early learning programs in January. Through the preschool the church hopes to serve its community in meeting children’s social, emotional, and academic needs.
For a couple of years Newton County, where the church is located, was a desert for early childhood education, said Jill Dahm, the preschool’s lead teacher. That’s because a preschool in the nearby public elementary school closed after the 2017-2018 school year. In its absence, community organizers began asking Community CRC to revive the preschool that it had run from 1980 to 2016.
Tim Myers, the head of Newton County Economic Development who sent his children to the preschool years ago, was on board.
Myers advocated for thousands of dollars to help purchase supplies and make sure classrooms met state standards.
The preschool, which re-opened for the 2019-2020 school year, works with a board that is made up of church members. There is a liaison between the preschool board and the church elders and deacons. The school provides the church with a monthly report.
Dahm is a member of Bethel CRC, also in DeMotte. “It is a mark of the solid teaching in the past that anywhere I go in the community to ask for support for our preschool, non-church people are excited to help because of the excellent education they, or their children, received,” she said.
The school went through an evaluation process so that they could receive state and federal funds to help families with lower incomes with tuition assistance. Dahm explained that the school first had to be inspected for safety-escape routes, smoke alarms, and other safe standards.
“The next step was quality of teaching. They checked our credentials, saw our ongoing training, and checked our lesson plans and our supplies,” she said. The school achieved a Level 3 rating for the Paths of Quality Education, and now families can see if they qualify for tuition from two different sources. Currently, there are 11 students enrolled in the preschool program.
“What I especially love about working here is how truly intentional Community CRC is in working for the community,” Dahm said. “They were willing to start up this ministry because there were people that needed daycare and education for their children while they worked or went back to school.”