UNION — The Grace United Methodist Child Enrichment Program (GUMCEP) is much more than an average daycare.
It was apparent on Wednesday that GUMCEP Director Robin Bennett feels more connected to the program than she would to another job.
“All three of my children graduated from here,” Bennett said. “I love the program.”
Bennett explained that the program is geared toward all age groups between infants and four-year-olds, preparing children to begin kindergarten.
Bennett herself teaches the program’s three-year-old kindergarten; Emily Bennett and Ashton Ward work with infants; Della Alderman teaches two-year-old kindergarten; Christa Crocker (a certified teacher) teaches four-year-old kindergarten; Ashley Wilson (also certified) teaches art; and Carolyn Turner teaches music.
“Christa — our four-year-old kindergarten teacher — uses the same curriculum as public schools to get them ready for 5K,” Bennett said. “The only difference in our curriculum is that we include Bible stories and prayer.”
Bennett pointed out that many of the GUMCEP students are children of teachers. She said parents seem to enjoy knowing their children are learning in a small setting. All of the kindergarten classes run from 9 a.m.-noon.
Bennett said she enjoys reading in the classrooms and watching the children play and interact with each other throughout the day.
“Holidays are a lot of fun here,” she said. “They really get into the holidays. On St. Patrick’s Day, we had a leprechaun show up. We tried to catch him, but we couldn’t. He messed up our rooms, though.”
In addition to kindergarten programs and infant care, GUMCEP includes an after-school program during the school year. GUMCEP picks up students from Monarch, Buffalo and Foster Park elementary schools and brings them to the church for snack time and activities held either in the gym or outside.
Church pastor, the Rev. David Bauknight, said he also enjoys visiting with GUMCEP.
“I made paper airplanes yesterday, and I had a ball down there playing,” he laughed. “It’s funny the girls down there didn’t know how to make paper airplanes.”
Although classes do not run during the summer, GUMCEP still operates, giving children opportunities for field trips and many other activities. As a first for this summer, GUMCEP will offer both dancing — from Twist and Shout Cheer and Dance Center — and karate — from Union Karate Center — at the church on a weekly basis.
Other activities will include skating and various activities through the Union County Carnegie Library.
GUMCEP is also planning activities for the nearer future such as a mini-walk next month in the gym to raise money for cystic fibrosis and Family Fun Day on May 24 in which parents and grandparents will enjoy a cookout and a big slide with their children.
GUMCEP will also host a yard sale/bake sale from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday, April 13, in the Grace United Methodist Fellowship Hall.
Although registration was held in March, there are still vacancies for enrollment in GUMCEP for the 2013-2014 school year.
“We are thankful to the community for trusting us with their children,” Bauknight said. “Our prayer is we will do everything we can for their safety, and to educate them as well.
For more information, call GUMCEP at (864) 427-0996 or Grace United Methodist Church at (864) 427-1266.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.