Wesley Memorial School celebrates 50th anniversary
It began with a simple vision, but half a century later, Wesley Memorial School has evolved into an educational institution for many High Point families.
On Sunday, generations of current and former students, as well as current and former staff, gathered at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary.
“Our mission statement remains the same as it’s always been, which is to be a Christian school of excellence committed to caring for children and families in a safe, nurturing environment,” said the school’s director, Susan Sumpter, who has worked at the school for 36 years.
According to Sumpter, plans for the school began shortly after the church moved to its current location on Chestnut Drive in 1958. Ann Tyler, the church’s director of children’s work, met with the Commission on Education Ministry Team to envision a Christian preschool, and the school began with a single kindergarten class in 1962; a class for 4-year-olds was added two years later.
“From there, the age levels just continued to be added, and now we have infants through 5-year-old kindergarten,” Sumpter said.
Originally called the Through-The-Week Kindergarten, the school changed its name to Wesley Memorial School in 2011 to reflect its innovative curriculum changes, according to Sumpter. With a staff of 25, the school currently serves approximately 150 children, she said.
Among those children are a good many whose parents and even grandparents attended the school, according to Sumpter.
For example, 2-year-old Haiden Tobin is currently at the school, following in the footsteps of his father, Tyler Tobin, and his grandmother, Cynthia Story Tobin. And, in fact, when Cynthia was enrolled at the school, her mother Sally Story was a teacher there, adding a fourth generation to the equation.
“Wesley Memorial School has been a part of my entire life,” Cynthia said for an article in the school’s newsletter, The Pitter Patter.
“...I have fond memories of the many teachers who taught me. The school has played an integral role in not only my formative years as a child, but in my children and now my grandson’s life. As I bring Haiden in to school in the mornings, the halls are filled with happy children’s voices which cross the decades of time, and for this I am so grateful.”
Tyler added that the school “has become a part of our lives, and its influence will bear fruit for years to come.”
During Sunday’s celebration, the school honored three of its “founding mothers”:
• Ann Tyler, who had the initial vision for the school and saw it to its fruition.
• Jane Duncan, who was the lead teacher in the school’s inaugural kindergarten class.
• Sarah Woollen, who taught a 4-year-olds class at the school and stepped in as the temporary director when Tyler retired.
The Wesley Memorial School Choir also sang during the celebratory service Sunday morning.
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