There are 49 Lutheran early childhood centers across Missouri! Here are three schools that have larger early childhood programs: Calvary Lutheran Early Education Center in Kansas City, St. Paul’s Early Childhood Program in Concordia, and Christ Community Lutheran School Early Childhood Program in St. Louis.
A Unique Student Body
While each of these early childhood centers are directly associated with a Lutheran grade school (and are in close proximity to a Lutheran high school), they have their own unique identity. CCLS and Calvary serve children from infancy through Pre-K and St. Paul’s serves students aged 3-6. Most offer options for half day, full day, and extended hours. Unlike many Lutheran early childhood centers, approximately 80% of St. Paul’s students identify as Lutheran. Roughly two-thirds of CCLS’s student body are non Lutheran or have no church home. And only about 1-2% of Calvary’s students identify as Lutheran–most are Catholic.
Multiple Early Childhood Campuses
Calvary has 250 students across two locations (Oak and Wornall) and CCLS has just under 300 students over four locations (Crestwood, Glendale, Kirkwood, and Webster.) It takes quite a bit of coordination to ensure that each campus maintains the school’s standards, but is also able to have a unique feel. Laura May, EEC Director of Calvary’s Oak Campus explains, “We have the same policies and procedures, but the personalities of the staff and the creative differences between [the Wornall campus] keep us similar but with our own personalities and interactions.” And Director of Early Childhood Education at CCLS Angela Shirley notes, “We are really intentional in mission, vision, core values, and being united in that. And also reminding us that we are part of a bigger whole, we are all CCLS.” Staff at CCLS also have the opportunity to participate in mentoring and sponsorship programs as well as a book study for the whole early childhood staff. CCLS has additional resources shared across campuses like counselors from Lutheran Family and Children’s Services and special education specialists.
Each of these early childhood centers have varied programs to offer which benefit their current students and also reach into the community. Before the impact of COVID-19, CCLS would have open gym times during the winter for young children to come and play in a warm space. These days were designed especially for community families to come and connect with CCLS moms and kids over fun time and a snack. St. Paul’s has a unique focus on learning style. “We believe that children learn best through the power of play,” states Sara Larsen, Lead Teacher at St. Paul’s, “...Process over product is kind of our motto when planning learning experiences.” St. Paul’s is also working towards the creation of an early childhood outdoor classroom space. These early childhood programs that span across Missouri serve their unique communities in varied ways, but they all have one thing in common: raising children in the faith. “The ultimate goal is that children know that they are a loved child of God–loved and saved through Jesus,” emphasizes Shirley (CCLS), “It’s Paramount to everything we do here.”