March 28, 2024 

Dear Park’s Edge Preschool Families: 

As I look ahead to retirement, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve, love, and learn from your family. It has been my greatest pleasure and reward to work at Park’s Edge for the past twenty years. I have survived many trials and tribulations at PEP. One of my greatest accomplishments here has been achieving NAC Accreditation in 2010…and especially in maintaining it over a dozen years…even during a pandemic! In 2011, we received the highest quality, 5-star YoungStar rating. WOW! It has been quite a ride! Of course, I could not have done it without the staff, volunteers, PEP Board members, Emanuel Church’s leadership/vision, the many families, children, my family…and most important to me-God! The time has passed by too quickly… 

I am blessed to have met many personal and professional goals at Park’s Edge Preschool. Here is a list of some of the program improvements I oversaw– An entire overhaul in PEP’s infant-toddler rooms in 2014 by adding wood furnishings and pastel colors found in nature-light green, gray, and blue. The opening of our Children’s Library in 2014 made literacy a top priority at PEP. Many upgrades to PEP’s classroom environment in the lower level/preschool classrooms included new cubbies and flooring; carpeting and a facelift to the closet in the purple room; and flooring in Kurth Hall. A complete kitchen makeover in 2016, thanks to the Heinzel Family. PEP’s children’s playgrounds: School-age climber-2007; two outdoor shelters added to the backfield, 2021, thanks to the Zacher families; Water, electricity, and cameras to the backfield added in 2022. An entire upgrade for PEP’s playground attached to the building for toddlers through 5 years old offers a creative, interactive outdoor environment-2023. The camera and key-fob systems offered parents a sense of security at PEP. COVID brought better communications in 2020 with an upgrade to the building’s entire digital system. And, of course, I will never forget the construction of the roundabout in 2018😊. I am thankful for Emanuel Church’s Trustees and especially Karin McElrone, Emanuel Church’s Administrative Assistant. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the many teachers that have sacrificed to make PEP what it is today. I am truly humbled by everyone that has loved and nurtured other people’s children unconditionally! I will cherish their gifts as I reflect on the many opportunities, and experiences, I have had with them in serving the entire community through early childhood here at Park’s Edge Preschool. I will be forever grateful to Kristin Burr, PEP’s Assistant Director and my confidant since 2008…I will truly miss working next to her! 

As you can imagine, I take with me many happy memories. I want to express that I leave in good health and am happy in looking forward to a new chapter…certainly I am not ‘too tired’ to retire! My husband Craig retired in 2020 at the height of COVID and has always taken a backseat to my career. I am truly looking forward to rediscovering him. We were blessed in 2017 with Oliver, my cousin Elizabeth’s child who is turning 13 on April 2nd. I am looking ahead to quality time with him as he matures. And…my 89-year-young mom is emerging from rehab in April after she broke her leg in January! I look forward to spending time with her…after all she was the one that nurtured me into the unique individual that I am. As you can tell I won’t be bored in retirement…which has always been my mantra at PEP…’never be bored’! 

I leave Park’s Edge Preschool in good hands with Haley Bigger at the helm and am thankful for the next chapter. I truly hope you and your family can join me in the celebration of my retirement on Friday, April 12th for a Sock Hop from 5 to 7pm. Pizza, refreshments, and music will round out the occasion as the Week of the Young Child comes to an end. Thank you! 

Sincerely, Ellen M. Kvalheim