On June 7, 2009, when the Safari program began, Mary Allen and Stacey Uhlman started teaching the 5-Year-Old/Kindergarten class with the plan to teach until their youngest sons completed the class. One of those boys just graduated from high school and the other graduates next year! Fourteen years and over 130 children later, this dedicated duo continues to teach, inspire, and encourage young hearts in their walk with God.
What makes these dedicated teachers and the 5/K class so special?
1) Mary and Stacey form a personal relationship with every child in their class. On a regular basis, I see former students stop in their classroom for a hug! “I love them and they love me.” (Liam Denton, 2nd grade) “I always remember their big smiles when I would come in and they would say, ‘Hi Isla’. That made me feel really good.” (Isla Block, 7th grade)
2) They go the extra mile to make sure each individual child has a good, positive, fun experience in their classroom. “The thing I remember most from Ms. Mary and Ms. Stacey’s class is memorizing Psalm 23. They put cards on the wall to help us remember it in fun ways.” (Grace Levering, 7th grade) “ I remember we had the Passover Feast and got prizes from the prize box for bringing our Bibles.” (Andrew Block, 4th grade) “Ms. Stacey and Ms. Mary made Bible learning fun! I always wanted to be in Bible class.” (Kate Babiash, 4th grade) “I remember the puppet shows. That was my favorite.” (Tyler Levering, college freshman)
3) They emphasize the importance of spreading the gospel and supporting the missionaries. They encourage the children to donate their own money to this cause. In fact, the 5/K class gives the most money of all Safari classes every year! “Ms. Stacey and Ms. Mary motivated us to learn God’s Word and His work! They came up with a fun way that encouraged us to support missions by calling it M&M, Missions in Minnesota.” (Cooper Babiash, 6th grade)
4) The children leave the 5/K class knowing the importance of the Bible and of God’s love for them. These important truths are clearly displayed every year in August when the class has a graduation program in front of the congregation. “It was cool how Ms. Mary and Ms. Stacey found a way for me to be a part of the graduation program even though I couldn’t stand after my surgery and I got to wear a purple robe because they knew it was my favorite color!” (Baylee Banning, 11th grade)
Equally integral to this process is Cheryl Laughary. She faithfully writes lessons and prepares materials for Mary and Stacey and does an excellent job! Mary, Stacey, and Cheryl are taking a much-deserved break this summer, but will be back at it the end of August! Thank you ladies for a Kingdom impact. Your selfless dedication and commitment to the 5/K program are greatly appreciated!