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St. John’s kindergarten going strong since 1946

The graduation ceremony is over, the chairs are stacked on the tables and the toys are cleaned and put away. But Teresa Stoner is already thinking about the 2014-15 school year at St. John’s Kindergarten.
The school, which opened in 1946 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 200 W. Innes St. in downtown Salisbury, has consistently cared for the physical, social, intellectual, spiritual and moral development of their students within a distinctly Christian environment. The goal, likewise, is to provide a smooth transition to first grade.
“We get so much joy at seeing how well our students perform in school,” says Stoner, the Pre-K teacher and program director.
The program has long prided itself on being able to provide a strong and challenging curriculum within a nurturing, loving, and supportive environment. Over the years, the program has kept ahead of the curve to accommodate the changing needs of its students. New this past fall was a 3-D Reading Assessment, which carefully measures the students’ reading skills three times each year, says Bonita Rowland, the kindergarten teacher.
Rowland says that the assessment measures phonemic awareness, sight-word recognition and comprehension. “It’s been a big plus. This assessment is done statewide in the public schools, but we’re able to fully engage the parents in the assessment’s results.”
A similar program will be available for the Pre-K students.
The St. John’s program is a half-day program, and Stoner knows that many parents need a full-day program for the children. To that end, the kindergarten offers the Roundabout Program in partnership with the St. John’s Child Development Center, which provides child care before and after the kindergarten hours. The school staff is fully certified and also includes Sharon Kluttz, Rowland’s assistant, and Cindy Patterson, Stoner’s assistant. Joy Fisher serves as administrative assistant.
The program’s parents are a supportive bunch, Stoner notes, in part because of the high level of communication that exists between teachers and parents. “I love it there!” says Karen Hurst, whose son, Carson, attended the Pre-K program this past year. “I felt like he was so well loved and so well taken care of. It is a very safe place. He learned so much this year. I was amazed.”
Hurst says she was surprised when Carson added words such as “nocturnal” to his vocabulary and later showed her sign language they had been learning.
“It was just really neat to see him evolve this year,” she says. “He looked forward to going every day. They gave all the students individual attention. They want them to succeed. They are very good at what they do, and they love those kids.”
“We were very impressed with the program,” says Nichole Towns, whose son, Connor attended both years of the program. “It’s very organized. They have it down to a science. They know each child really well, and work with their strengths. We had a really good experience. Our daughter Jillian is going this fall.”
For its year-end evaluations, parents provide glowing reviews. The surveys, which are anonymous, consistently praise the program for its caring and loving teachers, its strong curriculum and communication with parents, and its high academic standards.
One pre-K parent wrote, “I think Pre-K is wonderful! Mrs. Stoner and Mrs. Patterson have done a fantastic job! My son loves being there and was excited every day to get to school. We have enjoyed being part of this program. You all are a blessing.”
Although the Kindergarten program is full, there are still a few spots available for interested Pre-K students.
For more information, visit the church website, stjohns-salisbury.org, the kindergarten’s Facebook page at facebook.com/StJKindergarten, or contact Teresa Stoner at 704-636-4404 or kindergarten@stjohns-salisbury.org.
Susan Shinn is communications assistant for St. John’s Lutheran Church.

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