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Duncanville Church starts day school as ministry to neighborscomment (0)

May 21, 2009

By Anna Swindle

This time last year, Ashley Stone was facing a quandary common to many young mothers: She wanted to be able to work but also spend the daytime hours with her children.

The solution? A day school in her church for children 6 weeks through pre-K.

“I really wanted to pursue it but was a little hesitant because I didn’t know how the church would react,” said Stone, a member of Duncanville Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa Baptist Association.

As it turned out, both the church and the community welcomed the idea of a new child-care facility.

With no day care to be found within at least a 20-mile radius, the area was genuinely in need of a place for working parents to leave their young children during the day.

Duncanville Day School, which opened its doors March 1, is ideal for these families, as it runs on a year-round calendar.

The day school has already increased its numbers from eight students to 17 with more registered to start in June. One woman has even signed up her unborn child, according to Stone, who has two of her three children enrolled in the school.

“We wanted to open small and gradually grow into a bigger program,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll be a reputable, respected day school. We want people to know we’re doing this as a service to our community.”

It was last August when Stone shared her dream of opening a day school with a friend at church. Her friend suggested they use the church building and the preparation went from there.

Part of the building underwent a few makeovers to properly equip the classrooms for use by the day school.

Donna Dickinson was also a fundamental part of the planning process and is now a teacher at the day school. With a background in teaching in the public school system, she had a wealth of expertise, wisdom and materials to contribute.

“It’s really been amazing that God has put me in the pathway for this,” Dickinson said. “It’s not just any day care — it’s Christian day care. That was an interest we really heard parents express.”

Stone, also a teacher at the day school, said Duncanville Baptist members have been supportive throughout the process of getting the day school started.

“They keep telling us how excited they are for us,” she said. “It’s not an easy experience, because change is always difficult, but it’s created an energy in the church, especially among young married couples.”

The four-member day school staff — along with the rest of the congregation — is looking forward to the way the school can impact the community.

“We’re not a large church by any means, but you don’t have to be a big church to make a difference,” Pastor John Dickinson said.

“It’s been a God-directed kind of thing and definitely wasn’t a man-made incentive,” he explained.

So far, one family has started attending Duncanville Baptist as a result of the day school, he said.

Although the planning phase is over, Stone realizes there is still much work to be done. Still she is hopeful for the day school’s future.

“We want our best advertising to be that when children come out of the day school, they have a fundamental understanding of Christian values and also are more than ready for kindergarten,” Stone said.

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