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Woodbury’s first preschool to turn 50 years old on Sept. 20

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Woodbury Preschool will be blowing out the candles this weekend. 

Woodbury Preschool, located at Woodbury Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 20.

“I think it’s pretty neat,” said Mary Burton, one of the past directors, and former teacher, at Woodbury Preschool, “especially when we’ve been here as long as we have.”

From the beginning 

Woodbury Preschool, formerly Woodbury Nursery School, opened in 1965 in an effort to fill a need in town. 

“There was a need in the community for preschool that wasn’t there,” said Julie Johnson, the preschool’s current director. “There wasn’t even kindergarten in the district back then.” 

Woodbury Nursery School was opened by the church, not by an outside group. 

“They opened it as an outreach for the community,” Burton said. “They saw a need there and they wanted to fill that.” 

When Woodbury Nursery School first opened it had an enrollment of 30 students, two teachers, an assistant and one custodian. 

Preschool classes were held from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. three times per week for children who were 4 years old up to first grade. 

Today, Woodbury Preschool, along with Parents Day Out, which started in 1973, serves 220 students ages 6 weeks to pre-kindergarten, with a staff of 31. 

Students attend classes for either a half day or full day, up to four days a week. 

A building addition was added in 2002. 

Now that Woodbury Preschool has been around for 50 years, Johnson said, it’s no surprise that some of its students are children and maybe even grandchildren of former students. 

Preparing preschoolers for life

Johnson and Burton credit quality teachers with Woodbury Preschool’s continued success and longevity. 

“We have the most dedicated, nurturing staff,” Johnson said. “We love what we do; we wouldn’t hang around as long as we have if we didn’t.”

“We’re very fortunate to have the teachers that we have,” Burton said. 

Other aspects that help set Woodbury Preschool apart from other preschools in the area is its small class sizes, a maximum of 10 students in each, and a continually held license, Johnson said. 

In terms of curriculum, Johnson and assistant director Jean Olson agree that Woodbury Preschool’s dedication to preparing students for kindergarten is a great asset. 

“Having a program that prepares kids well for life is important,” Olson said. “It’s important that they learn their ABCs and their numbers and all that, but the bottom line is to make it so kids love being in school.”

In addition to the academic standards, Johnson said, students at Woodbury Preschool also learn how to make friends, how to get along and how to follow directions among others. 

“We want them to love going to school and to be prepared socially and emotionally,” Johnson said. 

Celebrating a milestone

Woodbury Preschool’s anniversary celebration will take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. 

The open house will feature face painting, storytelling, historic photos, a commemorative video and vintage toys that were popular in 1965. 

Additionally, at the event, former and current students are asked to participate in a commemorative art piece, which is a tree that uses green handprints of students to make up the leaves. 

Burton said Woodbury Preschool will continue on its path of success as long as it continues doing what it is now. 

“We’re the best preschool,” she joked.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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