Noah’s Ark Preschool (1997 — 2017)

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Noah’s Ark is now closed. 

All Aboard Noah’s Ark 1997–2017

On Sep­tem­ber 8, 1997 Noah’s Ark Preschool opened its doors for the first time and, 20 years lat­er, on June 20, 2017 the doors will close for the final time.

Noah’s Ark was the vision of active mem­bers of Sharon Hope’s con­gre­ga­tion Dale Knight-Man­nell and Cathy Cros­by (for­mer­ly Ben­nett). The ongo­ing suc­cess of Vaca­tion Bible School (now Coop­er­a­tive Church Camp-CCC) inspired them to repli­cate the mod­el in a Chris­t­ian preschool for­mat. Short­ly after open­ing we were advised by Pres­bytery that we were the only preschool in Cana­da oper­at­ed by a Unit­ed Church.

Rev. Dr. Les­ley Clare, the min­is­ter dur­ing the plan­ning phase, enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sup­port­ed the preschool and viewed it as an excit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for Sharon-Hope. A preschool would change the church and after many dis­cus­sions and a full year, the plan to open a non-prof­it licensed out­reach pro­gram of SHUC was approved. It was chal­leng­ing to meet the Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ty and Social Ser­vices (now Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion) require­ments but with the sup­port of the con­gre­ga­tion and cham­pi­oned by Ed Hunt and Lin­da Coyle, the doors were opened.

Ini­tial­ly the pro­gram ran 5 half days but was reduced to 4 half days after year one. With a steady decline in enrol­ment, the preschool moved to 2 days in 2012. Since incep­tion the preschool has wel­comed 502 chil­dren of all faiths and abil­i­ties from East Gwillim­bury and sur­round­ing areas while con­tribut­ing fur­ni­ture, fix­tures, sup­plies and $55,200 to the church.

In 2000, Cheryl Telford joined Dale as Co-Direc­tor as Cathy moved on to become an ele­men­tary school teacher. Cheryl took on the role of devel­op­ing a cre­ative pro­gram while Dale con­tin­ued to man­age the ever chang­ing strict licens­ing require­ments and ensured the pro­gram remained finan­cial­ly viable. Cheryl and Dale formed an amaz­ing team for 17 years. Their core val­ues and work ethics com­pli­ment­ed each oth­er.

The preschool brings young ener­gy and excite­ment to the church that will be missed. Our stu­dents enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly gath­ered each morn­ing in the out­door play­ground and uti­lized the entire church facil­i­ty includ­ing the Mem­o­ry Gar­den, Sanc­tu­ary, Lounge, Sun­day School rooms, Har­mo­ny Hall and of course the Nurs­ery. Every Christ­mas we filled the church with  fam­i­ly and friends for “Hark..Christmas Comes to the Ark!”. CCC music as well as tunes from Rev. Clare’s record­ings were thor­ough­ly enjoyed by our stu­dents. The preschool pro­vid­ed sup­port for par­ents, grand­par­ents and cre­at­ed life­long friend­ships all fos­tered at Noah’s Ark.

We were tru­ly blessed to be sup­port­ed by com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers includ­ing the York Region­al fire and police staff, health care pro­fes­sion­als and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers shar­ing their tal­ents. Assis­tance was always avail­able and includ­ed sup­port from Bloise Thom­son, Lynn Jew­ell, Jim Greig, Paula Roberts, Janet Elmer, Ted Wilkin­son, Bob & Maryanne Pat­ter­son, Dianne Pegg, Judy Maybe, Max & Ruth Lee­son, Katie Dyke, Shelly Lane, Tanya Thom­son, Lori Fish­er, Mar­garet Shrop­shire, Gay Van­Caeyzeele, Corine Bow­den and Tracey Donc­ses. In addi­tion Phil Man­nell, Todd Telford and our own chil­dren were always there to sup­port us in var­i­ous ways includ­ing toy clean­ing, craft prepa­ra­tion and equip­ment repair. Noah’s Ark was a Mannell/Telford fam­i­ly endeav­our!

It is with some sad­ness we close Noah’s Ark after 20 won­der­ful years.

The demand for our pro­gram has been waver­ing as the needs of our com­mu­ni­ty change. Our infor­mal research indi­cates par­ents require full time day­care rather than a part time preschool pro­gram. The Wor­ship Team has com­mit­ted to com­plet­ing a com­mu­ni­ty needs assess­ment that acknowl­edges the tremen­dous growth in our area, and deter­mines the require­ments of both our cur­rent and new neigh­bours.

We are cel­e­brat­ing 20 years of suc­cess and joy! We have been blessed to have shared time with so many won­der­ful chil­dren and their fam­i­lies. We have many pho­tos and let­ters of appre­ci­a­tion that acknowl­edge our com­mit­ment to the impor­tance of Chris­t­ian edu­ca­tion and the val­ues instilled by Noah’s Ark. Every Noah’s Ark grad­u­ate knows they are loved uncon­di­tion­al­ly and that they are an impor­tant part of God’s world.

It has been an hon­our and priv­i­lege to offer Noah’s Ark Preschool pro­gram to our com­mu­ni­ty on behalf of Sharon Hope Unit­ed Church.