St. James Preschool, like many church preschools, was born out of need – mothers with young children who needed a place for their children to play a few hours a week. So, with the initiative and determination of a group of mothers, much like our involved and hard-working preschool moms today, and support of the Church, the preschool started as a Mother’s Morning Out program (MMO) in the fall of 1971. The MMO was held in the upstairs portion of the education wing, offering safe and loving care to ages crib through 3 years. Within several years the need to care for the older children was identified and St. James Kindergarten was formed. A Board of Managers was established to govern this new kindergarten, and a director was hired to be the administrator. The kindergarten offered educational opportunities for children ages three through kindergarten, and was housed in the downstairs portion of the church education wing. Although the MMO director and kindergarten coordinated shared facilities and common calendars, the programs where run and governed separately.
During the mid 80’s, a church committee evaluated the kindergarten and MMO and determined that the two programs should be combined and governed by one Board of Managers and led by one director. With the opening of the 1986-87 school year, all children, crib through kindergarten, were attending the St. James Preschool. As public school kindergarten programs increased, the interest in private kindergartens declined. St. James Preschool opened in the fall of 1987 without a kindergarten program.
By the early 1990’s prospective parents were expressing a desire to have an accredited preschool program. After careful evaluation, the application process began to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In May of 1998, St. James Preschool opted to change accrediting agencies, and began pursuing accreditation with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS/CASI).
Today, St. James Preschool is a thriving preschool with over 190 students, close to 150 families and over 30 staff members. Collaboration among parent, teachers, and staff cultivate deep, lasting relationships and a strong sense of community. New ideas and carefully considered feedback continue to shape the thoughtful preparation and planning of the St. James experience for both current and future families.