Little Acorns Pre-school is part of Fathers House; it opened it’s doors to families in the community in September 2000, but the vision for it was birthed about 18 months before (you can read more details in a previous article). I can still remember Anne Clowrey, Sue Ozzard and I excitedly planning the Pre-school, supported and encouraged by Clive and the other trustees of the church, surrounded by our then very young children…Amy, Sophie, Chloe, Megan, George and Debs.
When Little Acorns opened in Sept of 2000, Sophie and Debs were also starting the big adventure of Primary School whilst Megan still had a year to go. Amazing to think that today we have been celebrating Debs 18th birthday (and in the Autumn Amy is anticipating the arrival of her own baby)!
In the whole of the last 14 + years we have known absolutely that Little Acorns was God’s idea and it belongs to him. At every stage; whatever challenge we have faced, we have known God’s blessing and favour. Every time we have needed someone new to come and work with us, God has clearly provided the right person.
The relationship between Anne, Sue and I has been a particular blessing; they are both very precious to me and I am glad to call them my friends. We have had such fun together even as we have worked really hard to establish Little Acorns as not only an excellent Pre-school but as a place for staff, children and families to feel accepted and loved.
The last 14 years seem to have gone by very fast; the Pre-school has gone from strength to strength; my children have grown up and I’ve had a chance to do lots of things I could never have imagined when we set out. For example in 2006 I went to Ghana (with Philippa Baddeley) to visit Emmanuel and Monica in Takoradi; to help with their Pre-school, which had been modelled on Little Acorns.
I came back from that trip realising that although I had a lot of experience and practical understanding, I would like to have more theoretical knowledge. This led to my taking a degree in Early Years Care and Education, which was both a challenge and a joy. Well, the last 2 or 3 months were a bit like childbirth… pretty hard, but soon forgotten when the last essay was finally submitted!
So, Little Acorns has been a huge part of my life; but about 18 months ago something began to happen. I remember in about Nov 2012 feeling like ‘change was coming’; There was a short space of time where everywhere I seemed to turn events and people were speaking to me (not always intentionally) about change. When this happens you start trying to think what that might look like in your life. I said to God, that’s fine; just show me what’s next and I will do it!
Even though I had an inkling that I might be coming to the end of my time at Little Acorns, I still couldn’t quite see my life without it. It had been such a focus of my energy and passion; I even began to wonder if I couldn’t imagine leaving because it was where I found my identity and significance; but decided it wasn’t so much that – but more about leaving behind such a lovely team of people!
Over the last few months I have been waiting for God to go ‘Ta-da’ and produce the new thing! But it gradually dawned on me that he might want me to make the step out of the old first. I know I am not the first person this has happened to…but it still feels a bit risky! But God has helped me to get used to the idea – I found that the ‘grace’ began to lift from the work with the children (!) until finally one day about 2 months ago I came home to Andrew and said “I don’t want to be doing this when I’m 50!” (which will be June 2015!). It felt a significant statement as soon as it was out of my mouth.
I tentatively said to Anne and Sue that I was thinking about leaving and I know it was a bit of a shock and quite unsettling for them, but I really, really believe that in trying my best to follow God’s leading there will be blessing not only for me, but for Little Acorns. I believe that when a new member of staff is appointed by the trustees it will bring a whole new flavour to the group.
Practically, we are going to use the whole of the Autumn term as a transition period; before I finally bow out and leave at the end of this year. Although I have talked about this from a very personal perspective, there are also some other changes coming in Sept. Anne is going to take a little time out in the Autumn term to enjoy being a ‘Nanny’, and when she comes back it is planned that she will spend more time in a managing role and less with the children. We are also making some changes to the sessions; offering whole days for the first time (9.15am – 3pm) in order to offer more flexibility to parents.
So, some big changes happening; exciting but also a little challenging! Our heart has always been that, as a Pre school, we are part of the way Fathers House reaches out, meets the needs and blesses the community around us and I know that all those concerned with Little Acorns would appreciate your prayers at this time of change.