The 2020/21 school year for First Steps Preschool is now in the books, and what an extraordinary year it was! Every step this year was with a deep breath, constant prayer, and careful consideration. With an amazing teaching team beside me, and a supportive church behind me, we didn't just survive this school year, we thrived. God provided for us every step of the way. I trusted God would protect us, but I also knew we were not above COVID-19. It wasn't a matter of "if" COVID would impact us, it was "when" COVID would impact us. Whether it was our Fraser Health COVID inspection, annual facility inspection, preschool families going for testing, my own son receiving a close contact/self-isolation letter, and then a functional closure of our 4-year-old program, we navigated all of the ups and downs with deep faith and trust in God.
In September 2020, I knew First Steps had to love like Jesus throughout this school year. To do this well, we had to lead with a calm and peace that only exists because of our faith in God. I will admit, there were times I felt like a duck in a pond...calm, cool, and collected on the surface of the water, yet my feet were frantically paddling underneath trying to stay afloat! An obvious challenge for this year was navigating and pivoting to meet the requirements of the Provincial Health Orders. These health and safety regulations looked great on paper, but the reality of implementing them with preschool-aged children was a completely different story. Creating an environment for children to feel safe and loved, while still learning and having fun was priority number one. This definitely proved to be challenging at times.
Reflecting on the past ten months, it's easy to remember all the things we couldn't do and fail to see the many things we were able to accomplish. I challenged myself and the other teachers to change our perspective and not get stuck in the "we can't do this" mindset. Rather, my desire was to have a "we can do this" type of thinking. This kept us positive and moving forward. One of my favourite memories this year is from December. A little girl in our 3-year-old class had show and tell and was ready and excited to share her items from home with the class. The day before, we were given new regulations that no one was able to enter the preschool unless absolutely necessary. Up to this point, we were able to welcome the parents of the child who was the special helper into the classroom. After informing the parents we were not able to welcome them into the classroom, the news devastated the little girl and deeply disappointed the family. Refusing to let another part of our program be taken away, we moved show and tell outside onto our playground. It happened to be -2 degrees that morning, but the smile on her face while her family watched was absolutely worth it! It would have been way easier to just say no, but instead we chose to be creative. This is how we love well. This is how we set our preschool apart. It's not always the extravagant and grand things we do, but the little details that make the most lasting impact.
September will be a fresh new school year, with new children to teach and families to love. We ask you to please pray for First Steps Preschool over the summer, for our teaching team, the children, and their families. We still have some space available in our 3-year-old program and we desire to have both classes full in September.
You can also listen to our new podcast episode that features some of the First Steps Preschool team including Katie, Megan, and Kaitlyn. You'll hear about the challenges they faced as they operated the preschool during a pandemic, and you'll also hear how they continued to love like Jesus despite the global health crisis. When you listen to this podcast, you'll hear a story of God's faithfulness and goodness through the story of First Steps Preschool. Visit our website to listen now or find us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.