Children say a snack time prayer with director/teacher Cathy Henson at St. Peter’s Day School. Photo by Kathy Feist
St. Peter’s Day School feels enrollment pinch from shutdown
By Kathy Feist
At St. Peter’s and All Saints Episcopal Church, apples and pears grow in the orchard, grape vines twist around planted stakes, and honey bees visit the lush flower garden before depositing their pollen in the beehives.
Among this vibrant summer growth is also the blossoming of young children who attend St. Peter’s Day School.
St. Peter’s Day School, a preschool for children ages 2 to 5, was established 50 years ago. Many in these parts of Kansas City happily recall attending the preschool.
Cathy Henson, age 51, enrolled her children in the school. Eventually she became its director.
Henson has been the director at St. Peter’s for the past 16 years, after a 10-year stint at Terrace Lakes United Methodist Church (down the road) and majoring in Early Childhood Development at Iowa State University. She is currently the director, teacher, janitor and administrative assistant at the school, which maxes out at 35 students. .
“I am all hands on deck,” she says. Three other teachers lead the other classrooms.
Thanks to Covid, classroom sizes are currently small.
“On March 1, we had over 30 children enrolled,” Henson says. “On April 1, we had six.”
Like many preschools, St. Peter’s Day School suffered attendance levels when Covid-19 spread to the United States and a shutdown was mandated.
“We had some essential [families], so the Bishop agreed to keep the school open,” says Henson.
By May 31, the number of enrolled students crept up to 20.
“We survived,” she says. “We are very happy about that.”
St. Peter’s is following the guidelines put in place by the Kansas City Health Department. Parents are no longer allowed beyond a couple of feet into the small preschool facility. Children must remain at home when ill. Surfaces and toys are sanitized with bleach. No more than 10 children are in a room. And children are limited to touching and distance.
And face masks?
“We have two to five year olds,” says Henson. “The way children interact, there is no way we are going to be able to [enforce] that. They touch their faces.They touch each other. They are like siblings. We try to limit contact as much as we can, but there is only so much you can do.”
Currently city guidelines do not require minors to wear masks while at a childcare facility, though they are advised. The mask requirement for two year olds and older during the regular school year has sparked debate among childhood facilities.
Meanwhile, blissfully innocent of the controversy, several happy, silly children gather in a circle in the Purple Classroom to say their “Snack Time Prayer” after they’ve motioned and shouted out “Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.”
Throughout the day, they will do crafts, learn phonics and numbers, familiarize themselves with nature, take a nap, have recess and learn socializing.
The children may not know it now, but they will be Kindergarten ready by the time they graduate from St. Peter’s.
And in a world that is so uncertain, they will experience something else of importance.
“There’s a unique atmosphere here,” says Henson. “It’s the feel of family.”
St. Peter’s Day School is currently enrolling children ages two to five for part-time and full-time care. (During the summer months, children up to ages seven and eight are admitted.) The school is inclusive of all religions.
St. Peter’s Day School is located at 100 E. Red Bridge Rd. ( northwest corner of Wornall and Red Bridge). For more information, call 816-942-2665 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.