TOTS offers a special opportunity for Bath area children
Some small classrooms in the basement of Warm Springs Presbyterian Church are home to a Totally Outstanding School. Ms. Teresa Dufour, the lead teacher has been there over seven years, and she is assisted by Ms. Cheyenne. When TOTS moved to the Warm Springs church in 2008 it had been operating for five years. Now it is the only church affiliated preschool in the county and operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 to 12:00. Most of the activities and routines are traditional preschool curriculum, like crafts and music, free play and snack. A Bible story is part of the reading aloud each day, and today the story of Jesus and the disciples during the storm at sea.
Ms. Teresa read to the whole group, and waited patiently when eager listeners had to share what they thought was important.
“But Jesus was a little tired. He said, ‘I think I’m going to take a little rest’
“Hey, but which one is Jesus?” “Where’s Jesus?”
“He’s resting.” “Really?”
“Mhhmm, really. Jesus needed to rest too.” “Yeah.”
“And God! And God needed to rest.”
Ms. Teresa continued.
“And all of the sudden here comes the storm. And it’s a little bit scarier when you’re on the water. And you’re on a boat. This didn’t have a cover; it was just an open boat.”
After the story described the storm, and how Jesus made it stop, some are eager to share what they are, and are not afraid of. Caleb made a confident statement.
“I’m never afraid.”
At Christmastime, and the week before Easter the TOTS children give programs for the whole congregation at Warm Springs. In good weather, the lively group can be found outside on the playground. Now, in the spirit of Spring, the children are decorating construction paper butterflies with a handle, so they can make them fly. I asked Caleb about his butterfly.
“And what does a butterfly make you think of?” “A butterfly makes me think of my dad.”
“Wow, why does a butterfly make you think of your dad?”
“That I love him”
“Because you love him?”
“What colors are you going to put into your butterfly?”
“Red and yellow and green, I think.”
And do you have some friends here that are making butterflies too?”
“What are some of their names?”
“Ayana, Michael, and Matthew. Those are few students.”
A place like this is where small children can pick very early lessons in being social. They learn each other and their teachers’ names, and to listen to a story in a group, and to take turns, and clean up after snack. At least two students from this group of three, four and five year olds will be going to kindergarten next fall. One of them is Michael.
“Am I right you are gonna’ go to kindergarten next year?”
“Do you know where you’re going to go to Kindergarten?”
“Next door to your house?”
“Not next door to my house, because next is Molll’s house, and we gotta go up to where Dad plays volleyball.”
I’m thinking that would be Valley Elementary School, a place where many a TOTS graduate has gone on to study. For a little more of this TOTS story, please stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.