School teaching former students' kids

Sandy Futch loves what she does for a living. The director of Lawrenceville Presbyterian preschool and kindergarten, she recalls the long history of the small school that has been housed in Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church since 1966.

"Back then, the school was just a kindergarten, since kindergarten wasn't offered in public schools," said Futch, adding that some of those original students have children who are now attending the preschool. "We haven't gotten to any grandchildren yet, but we will someday."

The tiny school - there are just 30 students enrolled for the 2008-09 school year - has had as many as 150 students in past years. The onset of pre-K classes funded by the Georgia Lottery, combined with the addition of kindergarten classes in public schools, has caused enrollment in private preschools and kindergartens to drop drastically. This year, there were not enough kindergarten-age children enrolled at Lawrenceville Presbyterian to offer a kindergarten class.

"We hope that will change next year," said Futch.

The school incorporates music, movement and play with the same curriculum used by public schools.

"We stick to the tradition of a true half-day school day. We feel it's developmentally appropriate for children these ages," Futch said.

Jennifer Cobb couldn't agree more. She has two children who attended Lawrenceville Presbyterian preschool and kindergarten. Her daughter is now in first grade at Collins Hill Christian School and her son is entering the 4-year-old program at Lawrenceville Presbyterian.

"I hope he is able to attend kindergarten there as my daughter did. She just thrived, and is doing so well in first grade," Cobb said.

"I like the program. It's focused on academic as well as social skills children need to move on to higher grades. Because it's a small program, the teachers know the kids and the families well. We've developed friendships that will last many years, I'm sure."

The nearly 50-year-old school is steeped in tradition. Longtime director Eugenia Craig McGee was from an old Lawrenceville family as well as a long line of educators. McGee grew up in a house that sat where the Gwinnett County Courthouse is located today.