Trinity United Methodist Preschool Celebrates 50 Years of Educational Excellence

Trinity United Methodist Preschool Celebrates 50 Years of Educational Excellence

by Jennie Kroeger, TUMP parent, Preschool Advisory Board Member, and former church nursery employe

Trinity United Methodist Preschool (TUMP) is gearing up to commemorate a remarkable milestone as it celebrates 50 years of providing exceptional early childhood education to the Tallahassee community. Established in August 1973, the preschool has been a model of learning, growth, and nurturing for generations of young learners.

What began as a modest program operating three days a week for three hours a day has evolved into a comprehensive five-day-a-week, 10-hour-a-day program, catering to the needs of families seeking high-quality childcare and education. The school serves children aged three months to five years and participates in the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program. Since the inception of the VPK program in Florida in 2005, TUMP has been a proud provider, ensuring that children receive a strong foundation for academic success. 

TUMP’s commitment to excellence is evident in its recognition as a Gold Seal school and accreditation by The Christian Preschool Association, reflecting its adherence to rigorous standards of educational quality and faith-based values.

“Marking its 50th anniversary, Trinity United Methodist Preschool stands as a beacon of educational excellence in downtown Tallahassee,” said Rev. Dr. Matthew M. Williams, the senior pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church. “Through five decades of dedicated service, this esteemed institution has consistently shaped young minds and enriched the local community. The legacy of unparalleled impact and unwavering commitment of our teachers and staff foster a brighter future for our present generation and those to come.”

Over the past 50 years, TUMP has welcomed over 1,000 children into its classrooms, fostering a love for learning and a sense of community among students and families alike. At the heart of the preschool’s success are its dedicated staff, with each lead teacher holding a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and committed to ongoing professional development through 24 training hours annually.

The visionaries behind TUMP, co-founders Mary Blackburn and Claire Nash, laid the groundwork for its success, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to shape the lives of children and families in the community. Despite the passing of these beloved leaders, their contributions endure, and their spirit of dedication lives on in the heart of the preschool.

With only three directors in its 50-year history, TUMP has maintained a sense of continuity and stability in its leadership. From Mary Blackburn’s tenure from 1973 to 1996, through Nancy Duncan’s leadership from 1996 to 2004, to the current director, Stacey Duggar, who assumed the role in 2004, the preschool has remained steadfast in its mission to provide a nurturing environment where children can thrive.

“I never imagined that when I first started working here in August of 1997 as a two-year-old teacher that I would stay for the next 25+ years,” said Duggar. “It has been a joy and a privilege to develop relationships with families, staff, and of course the children!”

Duggar not only leads the school but also actively contributes to the broader early childhood education community. Serving on the Board of Directors for both the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend, Inc. and the Christian Preschool Association, she exemplifies the preschool’s commitment to leadership and advocacy in the field of early childhood education.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, TUMP invites all alumni, families, staff, and community members interested in learning more about the school to join in the festivities on April 27, 2024, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the facilities, reconnect with old friends, and learn more about the preschool’s rich history and bright future.

The highlight of the celebration will be the unveiling and dedication of the new Legacy Walk, a testament to the preschool’s enduring impact on the lives of children and families. Festivities will also include family-friendly activities such as a bounce house, face painting, and a display of class photos from each year, providing a nostalgic journey through five decades of educational excellence and community engagement.