For 28 years, Jan O'Dell has run the Elm Place Pre-school in McPherson. The parents who send their children to her school adore this woman.
"They are little people and they are our future leaders and we need to remember that with children. We need to open our hearts and our minds and listen to them because when they speak, what they say is very important."
They are little faces - fascinated with life, learning to share, learning to cope, and most important learning to trust.
It is down these stairs where hundreds of children have trusted and loved Jan O'Dell.
"It is not your typical basement. I want it to be cheerful and inviting when the kids come in."
"A great joy from being with God's children. They are just little blessings and to see them grow and mature is the biggest reward of all."
For her, this basement-learning center isn't just a job. It is an extended family and these are her children.
"The Lord gives me patience. He gives the blessings and the patience to have this ministry. I really consider it a ministry for him and for the children and the parents in the community."
Parents like Reed and Sonya Hardgrave write:
"I receive a card in the mail from Jan and Danny (husband) every week just to say I love you and I am thinking about you."
Parent Holly Stockham writes:
"She is someone I can go to for anything. She has a heart of gold and arms as wide as the depths of the ocean."
For nearly three decades these colorful basement rooms have been full of chattering children, and the smell of paste and crackers. But in May this beloved teacher will close her daycare for good.
"They mean the world to me. They mean the world to me. They are my life."
But on June 1st, Jan will begin a new life, working in the children's ministry at the church.
"It's very hard but at the same time I know it is the Lord's will. He is directing me to go."
The Elm Place Preschool will never be gone….because these children will always carry with them the memories of Jan O'Dell and the woman who became like family to hundreds of McPherson children.
"But never say good-bye….just say…see you later."
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