By Annika Hauer, For the Reporter
Renton Highlands Preschool, across the street from Renton Technical College, celebrated its 70th first week of school.
The majority of the staff at the preschool have been there for more than a decade, said Pre-K Program Coordinator Melanie Tofte. Low turnover in employees is rare in daycares and preschools, she said.
“We have some of the best parents that come through here,” said Tofte. “Having committed people behind the scenes is what keeps us going.”
One teacher, Mrs. Mac, has worked at the preschool for 21 years, and also attended when she was young. This is common – Maeve Gallagher is Tofte’s daughter, who also attended the preschool when she was young. “I loved making all the art,” she said. “I’d give it to my mom and say, ‘look what I made!’”
Gallagher is now a teaching assistant at the preschool, and has been for three years. “My favorite thing is seeing how these guys make the kids’ faces light up,” she said, referring to the teachers of the preschool.
The preschool struggled to stay open through the COVID-19 pandemic , but the team of staff, having worked together for a decade or more, found a way to move online, said Tofte. The business is a nonprofit, which also made it hard to stay open. “Thankfully, with government programs and support from parents and smart budgeting, we’ve been able to stay afloat,”she said.
According to Tofte, the preschool now has kids who were born and raised during quarantine. “A lot of them maybe didn’t get the social skills that other age groups had gotten before coming here,” she said. “That’s why we feel preschool is more important than ever, because a lot of these kids come in and they just haven’t had the opportunity to learn those social skills.”
Karen Beckman Householder is the Administrator and Registrar for Renton Highlands Preschool. “They learn how to interact with other kids, how to share, how to take turns,” she said. “Instead of learning how to ‘do’ school, they’re ready to start learning.”
Renton Highlands Preschool shares its space with Community of Christ church, located off of Monroe Avenue Northeast, but is non-affiliated. For more information, visit www.highlandspreschool.com.