By JOY HAMPTON
Teresa Danks never imagined that Verdigris Little School would take off so quickly, but the success of her business has not surprised her.
“I felt called by God to return for my master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and then to move to Verdigris from Tulsa,” she said. Danks earned her masters degree from Northeaster State University. She and her family have lived in Verdigris for three years.
Danks has six years teaching experience. She taught at other Christian schools before opening her preschool in September of this year.
“I’m trying to fill a need in this community,” said Danks, widow and the mother of three children ages 5, 11, and 15. “Verdigris kindergartners attend a half day. I give them the other half so that they can have a full day of school.”
Danks serves children from age 21/2 through 5 years old.
“The two year olds mostly play, but we engage them in the preschool activities when it’s appropriate,” she said.
Preschoolers and kindergartens have an age-appropriate learning curriculum that includes phonics with the introduction of the alphabet, letter sounds and reading, math with an introduction to patterns, sequencing, measurement and basic skills, Bible stories that teach character development in real-life applications, and learning centers for hands-on activities.
Danks’s philosophy is that happy, safe children with a good self-esteem will be children who can learn more freely. She believes that children learn through play and interaction with their environment. The children are encouraged to explore learning through fun activities.
“I’m providing more than education,” said Danks. “I’m providing the opportunity for them to grow spiritually.”
Currently, the school is near capacity with 14 students. Throughout the school year they follow the Verdigris public school calendar all though they do allow for holiday care if needed. Meals are contracted through the public school.
“I’m trying to compliment what the Verdigris Public School offers,” said Danks. Her own children attend Verdigris schools. “When the children I teach go into the public school, I want people to say, ‘gee, those Little School kids are smart!’” said Danks.
Verdigris Little School has a Web site at www.verdigrislittleschool.com. Danks plans to have web cams in the schoolrooms so that parents can log on and see their children any time at the school. She wants parental involvement and recognizes that working parents need the opportunity to tune-in to their children’s lives more fully. She hopes to have the web cams up and operating by early November.
She feels that the best part of her job is knowing that the children in her care “feel safe, feel loved and are learning.”
Joy Hampton covers Catoosa and Verdigris. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
By JOY HAMPTON