NPUC Early Childhood Education Leaders Gather for Workshop

June 27, 2019 | Education | Steve Vistaunet

The North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) hosted a two-day workshop for more than 50 early childhood education (ECE) directors, lead teachers and school principals June 24–25, 2019, in Ridgefield, Wash. They came from every local conference of the NPUC except Alaska and Montana.

Golda Pflugrad, NPUC ECE coordinator, planned the event with the overarching theme of "Explore, Create, Discover, Inspire." Special presenters included, among others, Shirley Allen, Oregon Conference children’s ministries director; Heidi Krueger, Oregon Conference associate superintendent; Jennifer Lopez, Small World Learning Center director; Tracey Williams, counselor; Julie Yamada, Pacific Union Conference associate director of ECE; and Rob Lang, NPUC director of children’s, youth and young adult ministries.

Within the NPUC territory, 46 ECE programs serve nearly 1,000 prekindergarten children from 6 months up to about 4 or 5 years of age. The program sites range from small centers to the Small World Learning Center in Tri-Cities, Wash., that has a daily attendance of about 120 children.

“This is where our church’s ministry starts,” says Pflugrad. “For some children, what they receive in our ECE centers is their first experience in learning about Jesus and His love for them.”

That spiritual emphasis is what sets Adventist ECE centers apart from many others. It’s why Lang shared his daily devotional thoughts, "Real Life, Real Time, Real Faith." It’s also why he spent the final hour with the group on the last day, encouraging them in their quest to inspire young minds for eternity. His focus was capped off by a special dedicatory prayer presented by Dennis Plubell, NPUC vice president for education.

This union-level workshop has traditionally been hosted every two years, but the interest level of those who came is providing an impetus for some to consider whether an annual event might be in the works.