With faith and guidance, Trinity Preschool set to reopen
The countdown has begun for Trinity Lutheran Preschool.
“The first day of school is fast approaching,” said Preschool Board Chair Stacey Riedel. “It’s exciting to be welcoming little ones back into our building.”
Riedel’s excitement is shared by many in Madison. The preschool has been a staple in the community for years as a ministry of Trinity Lutheran Church. It regularly reports full or near-capacity enrollment.
But this fall’s return to learn is unlike those of years past. The school abruptly closed late last summer due to unforeseen circumstances.
In the aftermath, school and church officials worked hard to rebuild the program. This involved revamping operations, introducing new branding and hiring a new Director/Teacher, Beth Himley.
After a year without instruction, Trinity Lutheran Preschool (TLP) reopens August 24, returning to its mission of serving the community.
Time of transition
Preschool students haven’t been in the TLP classroom in nearly 18 months. Like other area schools, TLP temporarily switched to remote learning in March of 2020 in response to COVID-19.
After completing the school year online, officials spent the summer formalizing a reopening plan. Just days before welcoming students back, however, the school found itself without a teacher.
“It was a very difficult decision to cancel classes for the school year, especially given the timing,” Riedel said. “Our community and congregation were heartbroken, but it was the only realistic option.”
Since that decision, the preschool has been in a time of transition. One early change involved welcoming new volunteers to the preschool board.
Traditionally TLP’s board supports the operations of the preschool and its mission. This includes administration of scholarships, organizing fundraising efforts and monitoring expenses and revenues.
The school’s closure, however, created new obstacles and led to additional responsibilities.
“It felt like we were starting over,” Riedel said. “We could not have anticipated the position we found ourselves in.”
Determined to reopen, board members relied on faith and each other to overcome challenges.
“We all had connections to the program and wanted desperately for it to succeed,” said Riedel. “We came together and put our trust in God that everything would work out the way it was meant to.”
New faces, new beginnings
Rather than dwell on the past, the board opted to self-evaluate.
“We believe in our program and our mission, and God gave us an opportunity to reflect, so we did,” Riedel said.
For months, the board examined and developed operational plans, policies, procedures and best practices. A new logo and brand identity was launched in June, reflected on the school’s website and new Facebook page.
Also that month the school announced the hiring of Beth Himley as director and teacher. A 2021 graduate of Dakota State University, she will enter her first year of teaching at TLP.
“Miss Beth is the answer to our prayers. She is the right person to continue Trinity Preschool’s mission of service. Our hunt for a director could not have worked out any more perfectly,” said Riedel.
Himley is originally from Brookings, SD. She and her husband, Ryan, moved to Madison five years ago. Together they live with their son, Tace, near Winfred.
“I am excited to help Trinity Preschool reopen its doors,” she said. “This position is a wonderful opportunity for me, and it’s also a special time for the school and church. I appreciate the board trusting me to return the school to its prestigious nature.”
Himley promises to create a classroom where students will feel welcome and excited to learn.
“I look forward to helping kids gain life skills and explore the world around them in a safe, loving and Christian environment.”
Journey is worth it
With a teacher in place, enrollment for the upcoming school year at TLP is promising. Riedel is hopeful the board’s hard work in the interim will pay off.
“I am so proud of what this board has accomplished,” she said. “We were determined to reopen and in a way that was better than ever. It was a huge responsibility, and it took a lot of faith.”
She admits the past year wasn’t easy, but the journey will have been worth it once students return to the classroom.
“I grew up in this church. Trinity has always felt like home to me, so this undertaking was near and dear to my heart,” she said. “It feels great to be opening our doors. We have prayed for this day and it’s nearly here!”