Blair Dunlap Edwards, Tabernacle Child Care Center Parent

May 20, 2019

This week, the students of Tabernacle Child Care Center’s Junior Kindergarten will become the first graduating class of the new program; I am both proud and confident as a parent in the ways that TCCC’s latest advancements have prepared my rising Kindergartener to thrive in her next school. This past year at TCCC has marked the beginning of an era in the new ways that our Director Kristen O’Sullivan has helped the program to evolve and continue to enable our children to flourish—all positive advancements while preserving the integrity of the same preschool foundation that former Director Frances Thrift established to help this village thrive for decades.

Our TCCC journey officially began in May of 2016 when I received a call that I had eagerly been awaiting—two openings had just become available at TCCC to accommodate enrolling my then 2-year-old and 1-year-old. Having just relocated back to my native Richmond, VA in the fall of 2015, my two daughters had been fulltime students at a nationally-accredited preschool/daycare program here in the area that has an excellent curriculum; however, for me personally, the well-respected program still left a void in the community feel for the “it-takes-a-village” experience that I’d been seeking. I had received numerous positive recommendations about TCCC, from current and former alumni families—emphasizing how their children still remember their times at TCCC and that the friendships made continued on, even after matriculating to different schools. I was elated for my daughters to start down this path of God’s plan for them in this crazy journey we call life.

Last May, when I learned that my oldest daughter would be a part of the new JK class as she aged up, I candidly was naïve and thought it was merely the addition of a new classroom. The first year of this program is just one example of the ways that TCCC continues to make progressive changes to accommodate the world that we live in today.

Preschool programs were initially established in the 1960s to meet the needs of dual-working parents and to familiarize children with the concept of a classroom environment through partial-day offerings. Having researched and observed the kindergarten programs in today’s era, I believe a child will only feel frustrated and left behind if he/she isn’t well-equipped for the curriculum in advance.

TCCC’s new JK program, led by JK teacher Courtney Durrett, provides well-organized developmental objectives, regular performance updates, and daily guides for parents to leverage as they support the growth of their child’s development at home. Areas of focus include science, math, reading/verbal comprehension, and cognitive/social learning subject matters. The lesson plans are intentional and systematically focused to align with Virginia’s standards for kindergarten (and even first grade!) curriculum.

For me and my JK graduate, this program has transformed the unresponsive shoulder shrug after asking ‘what did you do today?’, into anticipation of the JK daily report to help guide my discussion and reinforce the learnings at home. In fact, my daughter now excitedly asks me to read the updates, which are conveniently delivered to my phone via the Tadpoles app. She also enjoys the discussion that it prompts, and it is pure joy to witness her confidently update me on her weekly learnings.

As my oldest daughter graduates to begin her Kindergarten experience in the Fall, I’m excited to watch her grow and to put the new tools in her toolbox to good use, in large thanks to the TCCC JK program. At the same time, as the parent of a rising JKer in the second year of the program, I’m excited to watch how this program transforms my second, and a bit more spirited, child by next May.

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