Shepherd of the Hills Church in Bechtelsville will soon be saying good bye to the longtime running Providence Christian Nursery School while giving a warm welcome to the newly established Shepherd of the Hills Christian Preschool.After teaching at Providence Christian Nursery School at Shepherd of the Hills for 20 years, Barbara Christman plans to retire in mid-May.

"The nursery school was not a ministry of the church," Christman said.

Christman and her husband, Ronald, operated the school instead through their non-profit agency, Providence Ministries, while renting classroom space from the church.

The success of Christman's program inspired church members to keep it going.

"If they continued the school, it would really be an outreach to the community," said Jennifer Risser, secretary of the board for the new preschool.

"The church is funding the preschool for the first year," said Risser. "After that, with registration fees and monthly tuition, it should be a completely self-generating program."

The biggest changes are that the new preschool will now be a ministry of the church, it will have a different name, and a new director, Dian Winner, will be teaching the classes.

"We are continuing with the curriculum Barb used; I think that's important to many parents in the community," said Winner.

Winner's previous experience includes holding the position of center director at Sylvan Learning Center in Harleysville as well as the Goddard School in Blue Bell.

"I took off for a few years to raise my children," Winner said. "I'm excited to take over at the new preschool."

Sue Moser, Christman's classroom assistant for the past eight years, will return to help Winner teach her first classes, which start in September.

What sets this preschool apart from others in the area is that it is a three hour program, and a half hour of that time is specifically for bible lessons, said Peg Merkley, spokesperson for the preschool's board.

"There was always such a waiting list," said Risser. "I'm super exited. One of the reasons I joined the board was because I wanted to make sure the program continued." Risser has a two year old son who will start at the new preschool in the fall.

Winner will be teaching two separate three and four year old classes; a maximum of 15 students will be allowed in each, said Merkley.

"If the program does well, after the first year, we hope to have a pre-kindergarten class for five year olds in the afternoons," Risser said.

Registration info

Open House Dates:

Sunday March 2 from 2-4 p.m. Friday March 7 from 6-8 p.m.

Three Guidelines:

Children must be 3 or 4 years old by Sept. 10 Children must be toilet-trained Parents must provideroof of their child's immunizations

Classes for 3 year olds (15 students maximum): 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Tuesdays & Thursdays

Classes for 4 year olds (15 students maximum):

9 a.m.-12 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays

To register, call 610-754-6446 Ext. 30 or email Dian Winner at

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