By Emily Williams
Canterbury United Methodist Church Day School Director Linda Wingo is saying goodbye to a position she has held for the past three decades.
On Aug. 1, church staff and the advisory council hosted a reception for Wingo and her family to celebrate her career at the school. Her final day as director will be Aug. 30.
Before joining the Day School, Wingo taught in an elementary school.
When her middle child was born a month prematurely, she had to take extra maternity leave to care for him.
“Then our daughter surprised us,” Wingo said, with a laugh. “They were born 16 months apart, so I had to take another year’s leave.”
At that point, she decided to leave work and focus solely on her children for awhile.
Wingo entered into her 30-year career directing the Day School almost by accident.
When her youngest child was 2 years old, she received two separate phone calls from two different Canterbury UMC staffers on the same day.
“Neither of them were aware that the other was calling me, and both were telling me about this little part-time job,” she said.
Serving as Day School director didn’t end up being a part-time job. It was pretty much full-time, and occasionally it had her working seven days out of the week.
Before the nursery broke off from the Day School, Wingo oversaw both operations, which had her “working morning, noon and night,” she said.
As the demand for good preschool programming grew, Wingo wanted to maintain a low teacher-to-student ratio in the classrooms. She put a cap on the number of students who could attend.
“You don’t want a crowd control issue in the classroom because you want those students to learn everything that they possible can,” she said. “These are some of the most important years of these children’s lives.”
Wingo noted that the position offered her the best of both worlds, giving her time to work while also keeping her kids occupied.
“I was apprehensive at first, because I had been teaching older children,” she said. “But after I started, I thought, ‘Why had I not been teaching younger ones this whole time?’”
Throughout the years, Wingo was never bored. She said she continued learning new things from the students.
“The greatest thing is that all of these children keep me laughing all the time. … It’s the most wonderful thing,” she said.
After she announced her retirement to staff and parents, one of the 4-year-old students approached Wingo.
“She said, ‘Who is going to take your place? Could it be you?’ Her eyes were full of tears and it was just the sweetest thing,” Wingo said.
According to Day School teacher Rita Cooper, Wingo will be sorely missed by the entire school – staff, students and parents included.