Popular author Jon Acuff says that finding your dream is “often not an act of discovery, but an act of recovery.” For Heather McDougal, that certainly seems to be the case. When McDougal and her husband Roger moved to Sapulpa several years ago, she’d already had several years of teaching preschool under her belt. When she arrived however, she found the opportunities to get back into that career were slim to none. “There were no available jobs in the Sapulpa area, so I pursued other avenues of a career,” she said.
But the call of teaching little minds about the bible would not fade. After watching her own children grow up and move out on their own, she realized how much she missed interacting with families, especially after seeing her husband teach successfully for many years at several area schools. “Seeing the positive impact (Roger) has made with his students, I had the same desire to educate younger children while sharing the love of Jesus,” she said.
An active member of West Side Freewill Baptist, McDougal planned several outreach events for the church, and recalls how much fun she had meeting the needs of families. It was that same desire to meet a need that spurned the birth of Tiny Town Preschool. She found that Sapulpa had plenty of daycares in operation, but nearly all had certain limits. Not many of them offered faith-based learning. Most of them were all-day daycares, which tended to exclude stay-at-home families. None of them accepted two-year-olds.
McDougal saw her own children gain a valuable and positive experience attending preschool, and she wanted to extend that same opportunity to those who wanted a part-time preschool option. She sees it as a win-win for the family, too. “They were excited to go learn at a new environment and meet new friends. It also gave me as a mom some time to rest, set doctor’s appointments, and/or run errands,” she said.
Many children who attend preschool—even those who are more likely to cling to mom on that first day—are usually able to adapt to the environment. “I have also seen the benefits of preschool while being a teacher and seeing the shy kids come out of their shell and the out going kids begin to welcome others and share toys, and everyone got excited about hands on activities. It was a time of growth for sure as the children transition from their homes to a small class setting,” McDougal said.
West Side has served the community for over 50 years in various forms and fashions, but this is the first time they’ve operated a preschool. “(We saw it as) a way we could reach out to families and be a part of their lives in a meaningful way,” McDougal said. Happily, Pastor Len and the other leaders agreed and the planning began right away. “Everyone has been so supportive and excited to see where this road leads,” McDougal said.
Tiny Town’s motto is “Little People Going Big Places,” and it perfectly reflects their belief that God has plans for every child and in that, they are committed to helping them realize their potential in God, while helping them them build their confidence in themselves and their abilities.
Currently, they are only offering classes from 8:30-11:30am Monday-Friday depending on availability and age of the child. Depending on the program, prices start at $90.00 a month and increase with the number of days a week. Heather McDougal teaches the 3-5 year olds that aren’t in public school yet or plan to homeschool, while her sister-in-law Mindi teaches the two year olds.
Tiny Town Preschool is located at West Side Free Will Baptist Church, 1403 S. Cheyenne Rd in Sapulpa, just east of Wal-Mart and we are known for the church with the big tall steeple and green roof. Classes begin Aug. 31st and go through May. We will have open enrollment until all classes are full for ages 2-5. There is a one-time enrollment fee of $60.00 which covers the child’s school supplies for the year and tuition is due the first Tuesday of every month.
McDougal expects Tiny Town to see growth in the future. “We would like to offer more class options and a full time school schedule option hours,” she said.