Linda Timm of Indian Lake is retiring after 30 years teaching for and directing Niles First Presbyterian Church preschool. Daily Star/JOHN EBY

Archived Story

Preschool teacher retires

Published 8:38pm Monday, May 14, 2012

Unbridled enthusiasm is what Linda Timm liked about directing First Presbyterian Church’s preschool for the past 30 years.

“It’s so fun to watch them grow because they really mature a lot in that short time,” Timm said. “It’s so satisfying, and I’m going to miss it.

Some come in so terrified and unsure of themselves and develop into confident, problem-solving, happy little people. I’m getting children of children I had way back.”

Her program started in a small house. The 1916 church added the preschool room to licensing specifications in September 1967.

Timm took the reins from Jean Brondyke, who founded it with two other women, after 25 years and a one-year transition similar to her pairing for continuity with Jessica Pears of Granger, Ind., throughout this school year. Pears will be assisted by Ashley Neff next year.

“Kindergarten is very academic now,” Timm said Monday. “Our philosophy is ‘learning is child’s play.’ Kids can learn through play and not even know they’re learning. We do lots of unit work with numbers, letters and phonics, but we turn it into games. I really took to early 1800 educational philosophers, like Vygotsky. He talks about building blocks. Then they can go up the ladder of learning.

“Kids need choices to develop self-regulation. We also feel strongly about hands-on learning. There are more connections between the fingertips and brain than any other part of the body. If they touch it and feel it, it sticks. Learning evolves from what a child knows and is capable of doing rather than what a child can’t.”

Licensed by Michigan for 24 in the 4- and 5-year-old class with two teachers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 20 3 and young-4s on Tuesday and Thursday with two teachers, older children stay for 2.5 hours (9 to 11:30 a.m.), the younger for two hours (9 to 11 a.m.).

“Way back, we had afternoon classes. I think the economy has hit a lot of people,” Timm said, “but we are full for next year already.”

Besides Niles, students come from Galien, Buchanan, Edwardsburg and South Bend.

“My children came here,” said Timm, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in December 1968 and added a master’s degree in early childhood education in December 1995.

Timm taught special education for Niles Community Schools for 3.5 years, from 1968 to 1972, when she took time off to have her two children. “I had the privilege of having one of my granddaughters in class.”

Born in Chicago, Timm lived in Cleveland and in Grosse Pointe.“We (she and her husband, Boyd) recently built a home on Indian Lake.

We’ve got a lot of work to finish it. We plan to travel in October to New Orleans and Branson, Mo., because right after school starts is probably when it’s going to hit me.”

Open house for Linda Timm

When: 2 to 5 p.m. June 10
Where: Fellowship hall at Niles Presbyterian Church, 13 S. Fourth St.
Who: 600 invitations have been sent to former students and assistants

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