By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – Next month Diana Williams’ focus will shift. It will go from the taking care, and nurturing of a maximum of 24 kids at Exeter Community Preschool to spending more time with her granddaughter in Washington. At the end of the month Williams’ will retire from teaching. When that day comes it will be the last in a 32 year career in the education field.
“I am definitely going to miss being around the kids, but most of all I am going to miss a lot of the families that I’ve grown close to,” Williams said.
Williams had always been interested in the education of young kids. That interest turned into a passion after she took a couple childhood development courses in college. Eventually she got her degree in early childhood education from Sacramento City College. She began working for preschools in the Sacramento area, but took a break to raise her family. During that time the family moved to the Exeter area. Once the kids were grown Williams took up the position at Exeter Community Preschool in 1998.
Back in the field Williams was now the head of a special type of organization, known as a parent cooperative preschool. Not affiliated with the United Methodist Church they only rent the ground basement room where the classes are held. The school is also not associated with any of the local school district. Instead these types of schools are set up by a group of families with similar philosophies. The parents make up the board, and make the decisions. The board made the decision to hire Williams.
While Williams is the only teacher in the program she is not the only individual helping teach. Many times parents get involved with the teaching. Not only to help out, but to know firsthand what is being taught to their children.
“Many of the parents want to be there so they can help with their children’s education,” Williams said. “Then they can reinforce that learning at home.”
It is that common bond between the families and Williams which has made the stay so enjoyable. Some families, depending on how many kids they had, spend upwards of five to seven years in the program. In that time span she has seen families come and go. Not to mention hear the kids say some of the funniest things. One story as Williams tells it involves a three year old girl and play dough. While they were doing a craft she cut out a small piece and set it aside. When asked what the piece was for her reply was, it was a kidney.”
“That is why I enjoyed this so much,” Williams said. “Even on a crazy day they will say something funny and you just have to stop and laugh.”
Although Williams is retiring that does not mean the school will close. The board has already hired a new teacher to take her place. Jennifer Stimpel will be the new teacher next school year. Enrollment for the 2018 school year is now open for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning and afternoon classes. Information can be obtained at the Exeter Methodist Church (149 N D St.).