Serving generations of preschoolers

From left, Little Lambs Preschool students Dylynn and DeKoda Deschaine, Nathan Wiles and Annissa DeMarco have their plants checked by teacher Susan Lang.   - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Little Lambs Preschool students Dylynn and DeKoda Deschaine, Nathan Wiles and Annissa DeMarco have their plants checked by teacher Susan Lang.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

Little Lambs Preschool celebrates 30 years in M’ville

MARYSVILLE — It’s an anniversary that represents some personal history for students and teachers alike.

The Little Lambs Preschool, at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Marysville, is celebrating 30 years in operation, and for at least one family, the school has become a generational institution.

Lacey Nitz is the mom of a student at Little Lambs Preschool, but the teachers at Little Lambs remember when she was a student herself, from 1989-1990.

“I liked my teachers,” Nitz said. “It felt like family. There were about a dozen kids in my class, and almost all of us grew up together, from elementary school through high school. I’m still friends with them now.”

Nitz’s son, Christian Compean, is attending his second year at the preschool, and started when he was three. Although Nitz now sees the preschool through the eyes of a mom, instead of a student, she still sees many of the same qualities which made her own time there pleasant and productive.

“The teachers are just so patient and kind,” Nitz said. “At the same time, they have organization and structure. The kids can’t just do whatever they want. I like that they have rules and discipline, and I like that it’s Bible-based.”

Pastor Kurt Onken conducts Bible sessions, while Brenda Durand serves as the preschool director, Lavonne Bansberg teaches academics and music, Tammy Burton teaches art and stories, Linda Wiles teaches physical education and Susan Lang teaches arts, crafts and cooking.

“I don’t recall there being as many teachers when I was a student,” Nitz said. “I think there were only a couple back then. But so much hasn’t changed. Even the little student mailboxes are still the same. It’s kind of a shock, because you don’t think about things lasting this long.”

Nitz explained that her son had never associated with so many other children at once before preschool, and added that he enjoys being around his classmates and his teachers now, especially when they focus on school projects together.

Lang has taught at Little Lambs for 14 years, taking some years off in the middle of her career to have a son, and she remembers Nitz as a student very well.

“She was a good listener,” said Lang, as she supervised students building with Legos and watering their plants. “I love working with these kids.”

Lang has been a member of the Messiah Lutheran Church since she was married more than 35 years ago, and her son was baptized at the church in 1980.

“Over the years, I’ve seen changes in the program,” Lang said. “I remember when we had one teacher and one student for 35 kids. Now, we have a better ratio, so the pastor and the teachers can really get to know the kids. It’s much more personalized and it’s so enriching. I love it.”

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