Everyone loves a field trip! Well, almost everyone! Chaperones don’t always have a great time trying to keep all the kids corralled and safe on the bus. So, we have arranged some field trips for you, without need of chaperones and the need to wear matching neon yellow tshirts! We are going to go on virtual field trips to some of our partner churches who have graciously agreed to share how they are using First Look to connect with parents, develop volunteers and help give preschoolers their first impressions of their Heavenly Father and His amazing love for them!
For our first “trip” we are traveling to Gastonia, NC to Bethlehem Church. This awesome church hosted our Orange Tour stop last November and we were blown away by their passion for preschoolers. When asked if we could “visit” them, they immediately and graciously said “Yes” and so, today, we invite you to come along and see what they doing. Our question to them was this, “What is it that you feel like you are doing well in preschool ministry that you would share with other leaders?” Their answer: Their coaching system. Tyler, the Preschool Assistant, gave us this “flow chart” so you can see how coaches fit in the plan:
“Our preschool minister feeds into 9 coaches ( we have three coaches per hour) the coach then is responsible for about 8ish small group leaders/teachers. The small group leaders then directly teach the students. We do have a large group time where the children go the the “lighthouse” and have worship/ host/storyteller time. They then go back with their small group to finish up activities and pray. It is really a great set up and as worked so well. As coaches our responsibility is to make sure the teachers make it to the classroom for the day, help with the transition between hours, make sure there are enough supplies and things like that. We also try to pour into them in other ways through out the week such as email, cards, phone calls or coffee. Just to make it personal as well. We try to give to them what we hope they will give to the children. And Amy (PSM) does all those things for us coaches! It really is a great set up and helps to make sure nobody falls through the cracks.”
With that explanation of what a coach does, here’s what Amy Giles, the Preschool Minister, shared:
“We, in The Cove preschool environment at Bethlehem Church, feel so blessed to be using Orange and First Look curriculum! We have utilized other curriculums in the past but have found the most positive responses from leaders, parents and most importantly, our little ones when we began using First Look.
The beauty of this curriculum is being able to use it in many different settings and seeing how effectively it works! We began using First Look about 9 years ago in the classroom, and then later added a large group environment. For years our “stage” was 4 inch high deck flooring built in the corner of a classroom, with rough hewn boards nailed on the wall as a “beach shack” with a TV on a shelf. Today, we have a large room with a real stage and large screen TV. I tell you this to let you know that any progress we have made has not been attributed to the bells and whistles of a building with lots of room and neat visuals; it has been about the relationships that leaders build with our little ones. The relationships our coaches build with their leaders and the relationships I have made with our coaches! Some of our coaches have been in the Cove for 9 years. We have leaders who have been with us for 11 years. Please hear me…we still continually recruit volunteers just like everyone else!
When we first started out, I unknowingly put in place an Orange strategy that truly worked then and is still working. The Orange strategy is one of our strengths. I felt very “unequipped” in several areas and with much prayer started surrounding myself with people who had gifts that I do not possess. Through that process, we began building a very solid team of coaches. Through the years, I have learned to give the coaches freedom to be creative and in doing so have created a strong team of individuals with a passion for what they do. This has enabled all of us to work as a team. I have “replaced myself” with this wonderful team, so it runs itself. This allows me to be worry free if I need to be away. They are an amazing committed group of people who love God and the people they serve.
We strive to stay in a continual state of learning. We started small and built and transitioned with what we had. We tried many things that did not work (we still do!) and get back up, change gears and go again. Building anything worthwhile takes time and teamwork.”
Thank you, so very much to Amy Giles for such kind words and for taking the time to put this together for us! And thank you, also, to Tyler Huffstetler, for answering our many emails and questions! You ladies rock! Below are some pictures of their fun preschool environment and you can see more of what they are doing on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cove.bethlehem?fref=ts
We hope you have enjoyed today’s field trip! Watch for our next trip, coming soon!