The Union Recorder

August 6, 2013

St. Stephen’s under first new director in 28 years

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

St. Stephens Day School began in 1985 taking infants to 4-year-olds into two small rooms.

Today, the location has grown from a day care into a full-fledged preschool with 90 to 100 students during the normal school calendar.

Carol Grant, teacher and executive director since the beginning, was the catalyst for that expansion and improvement the last 28 years. Grant decided at age 60 she didn’t want to miss anymore family time.

The decision came one year ago, which required a parental and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church member search for a replacement. The school is a church outreach ministry.

The selection, Martha Robert, is brand new to Milledgeville after years spent in Decatur city schools and in non-profit administration.

“I learned I was not a classroom teacher, but still feel very passionate about our education systems and the educating of young children especially. Everything kind of came together,” Robert said. “There is wonderful energy and people here. The moment I walked into the school I knew that this was a quality place and where I wanted to be.”

Robert came this June and continues adapting to the many director hats. She calls Grant’s everyday to-do list her bible.

With school starting Monday, Robert is admittedly anxious. The goal remains providing quality education for preschoolers of all faiths and traditions.

Grant helped ease Robert into her old post and continues acting as a sounding board.

“Carol and I have connected. I certainly respect and applaud what she has built here and intend to carry that on to the best of my ability,” Robert said.

At St. Stephens children learn through play. Balancing teacher and child-initiated activity teaches socialization.

Kids grasp how to play with others, identify feelings and negotiate by 4 years old.

“Play is children’s work,” Robert said. “That’s how they learn.”

Preschoolers are exposed to math, language and the arts. Grant said the teachers, three of whom have worked there for 25 years, show a good example to the children and then let them work out problems.

“We do it through play, but it’s planned out. There are standards we go by. We work really hard to make it such a good program for children here. All of us love watching them grow,” the 28-year veteran said.

The school doesn’t do much advertising but keeps a long waiting list. Promotion sticks to word of mouth.

The program works. Former students have come back to work or enroll their children at St. Stephen’s.

“We’ve raised families. It’s very special,” Grant said. “It show’s they understand they went through a good program and still remember it.”

The preschool costs $130 per week for a full day program but also offers half-days. Grant said the price isn’t bad considering the teaching staff and high quality meals.

MyPlates let the kids match proper food groups for daily intake.

St. Stephen’s Day School updates portfolios on each child evaluating learning curves. Twice a year parent-teacher conferences shows the care taken at a young age.

The educational operation works. The school earned National Association for the Education of Young Children and Georgia Quality ratings.

“That’s the highest standard you can get for this age,” Grant said.

St. Stephen’s is a center of distinction with only two other peers statewide.

The 92 students starting this fall have valuable, fun lessons approaching. 

Grant is confident in Robert’s ability to maintain a high standard.

Teaching local youth is truly a calling.

“It’s not a big paycheck, but the rewards are watching them grow and loving them,” Grant said.

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