Answering the next call: Aaron to reopen Jack & Jill Preschool
Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023
It’s often been said that teaching isn’t a profession, but a calling.
Stacey Aaron was called to teach so many years ago that she was eligible for retirement this year after teaching students at W.S. Neal Middle School for 25 years. She taught at the same school teaching sixth grade English, math and social studies throughout her career.
Having worked under four principals during her career, Aaron occupied only three classrooms during that time where she touched the lives of more than 2,000 students.
Aaron may be retired from public education, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be continuing to answer the call to teach — or the call to a ministry.
Jack and Jill Preschool in East Brewton closed in November 2022 for several reasons. But, after crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is, Aaron will be bringing the preschool back to life this fall.
“All three of my girls came through Jack and Jill,” Aaron said. “Even when Mrs. Carolyn Dunaway was here I told her that if she decided to retire I might be interested in teaching.”
That thought may have taken a while to mature, but Aaron said that she prayerfully considered the directorship at Jack and Jill more than once.
“When Addie (her 3-year-old at the time) graduated, Mrs. Dunaway told me she was ready to retire,” Aaron said. “I told her I’d pray about it and get back to her. After a lot of prayer, I realized it was not God’s will at that time. I love teaching, I loved the students and I loved with whom I worked. I told her then that it’s not God’s timing for me.”
When the school closed last year, Aaron said her husband, Jerry, reminded her that she had reached the time she could retire from teaching at W.S. Neal Middle School.
“He reminded me about possible retirement,” Aaron said. “I didn’t think about it at the time but began to pray about a change. God just kept working on me.”
In March, Aaron went to the WSNMS Principal Perry Updike and said she was considering retirement.
“That week, the possibility of reopening Jack and Jill was presented to the church membership (at First Baptist Church in East Brewton where the preschool facilities are housed),” Aaron said. “It was presented as a ministry of the church and they overwhelmingly voted to reopen the school. Being called to this is a ministry — just as important as a pastor, youth pastor. I told Jerry then that it might be God’s will if the church voted to reopen Jack and Jill. He told me then that he would support whatever I chose to do.”
As the church membership was presented with the decision, Aaron said the vote was overwhelmingly positive to reopen the school.
“Brother Macon (Phillips – church pastor) came to me and said ‘is that good enough for you?’ and I just knew,” Aaron said. “I had such a peace about taking on this new role.”
Aaron said the preschool will be registering new students with a three-day registration period next week.
Registration will be conducted for three and four year olds Monday through Wednesday, June 12-14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a $50 registration fee and a $100 supply fee with half due at registration and half due in October. Total due on registration day will be $100. Cost for weekly classes held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon are $170 per month. Opening day for the preschool will be Aug. 11 and the sessions will follow the Escambia County Schools calendar as closely as possible.
Aaron says two teachers and a school aid are already in place. She will be teaching the four-year-old students with Samantha Cash teaching three-year-old students. McKenzie Jerkins will serve as aid for both classes. Space is limited and Aaron encourages early registration to ensure your child can be accommodated in the fall.