50 years and counting

Published 7:48 am Sunday, April 1, 2012

Preschoolers dance to "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" at a dance party celebrating United Preschool's 50th year. There will be another celebration today for alumni and past teachers. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Fifty years later and the purpose is still the same — preparing children for kindergarten and having some fun along the way.

United Preschool is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Albert Lea, and the teachers say they’re there because of the kids and families.

“You can’t have a bad day with these kids,” teacher Bernadette Clark said.

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Friday night the school held a dance party for its current students and their families. Teachers staffing the concession stand said they hope the school is around another 50 years and mentioned that it has a low turnaround rate — the newest teacher has been there nine years. Teacher Audra Beussman said she likes working there for “the kids, families and the whole experience.”

Children at the preschool are taught letters, numbers, reading and math skills. Teachers said there are other social skills taught and even some things people wouldn’t think of like how to line up in a line and sit quietly and listen.

“It seems it can be an advantage to children if they’ve had some preschool education,” Clark said.

One parent at the party, Jennifer Redman, said the preschool has helped her son, Blake, 4, with some of his special needs. Redman said Blake has had some speech delays and said that his teachers are always communicating with her about his progress.

“He likes all his teachers and is always excited to come,” Redman said.

Teachers also said activity is important so they like to make sure students are being active each day. One teacher, Sue Erlandson, has been at the school for 20 years.

“It’s fun to see the families come back,” Erlandson said.

She’s seen second generations of students whose parents once attended the preschool. All the teachers wanted to be sure to thank the sponsors for Friday night’s event, which include Hy-Vee, Nelson’s Market Place, Walmart and Celebrations Party & Gifts.

The second celebration takes place today from 1 to 2:30 at the school. The open house will be for past teachers and alumni to tour the classrooms and look through albums to find their own preschool photo. Snacks will be available, and the teachers said they hope they get a large crowd to attend.

If you go

  • What: Celebration for United Preschools’ alumni and past teachers
  • Where: 702 S. Highway 69
  • When: 1 to 2:30 p.m. today