Ribbon cut on Acorns and Oaks Christian preschool


Some 60 people attended a ribbon cutting Tuesday morning at the new Acorns and Oaks Christian Preschool, an intergenerational program housed at the King’s Gardens Campus of the Perry Lutheran Homes.

The Rev. Max Phillips, CEO of the Perry Lutheran Homes, welcomed the crowd and described the vision inspiring the Acorns and Oaks preschool. Chief Operating Officer Melissa Gannon then briefly interviewed Phyllis Naeve, a resident at King’s Gardens, who described the joys of interacting with the children in the intergenerational setting.

“My daughter and I bumped into one of the Acorns and Oaks children at a restaurant downtown,” Naeve said, “and the little girl turned to her mother and said, ‘Mom, there’s one of my grandmas from daycare!’ They are such little blessings to us.”

Mandi Ballentine, director of the Acorns and Oaks Christian Academy, said a few words about the preschool curriculum and the hands-on, self-directed experiential approach of the Montessori Method. Ballantine was backed up at the event by preschool teachers Ciera Bronnenberg and Jocelyn Banuelos.

Seven of the 12 spots in the morning class are now filled, Ballantine said, and an afternoon class will open if there is interest.

Chelsa Zagar of Perry, who has a child in the program, described the “benefits of blended generations” she has seen at Acorns and Oaks.

Phillips thanked the board of directors of the Perry Lutheran Homes for their support, including Karen Menz, a strong advocate for the program who died in March 2022. Her husband, David Menz, has carried forward her support.

“I look forward to continued growth and the lives that will be touched in the years to come,” Menz said of Acorns and Oaks.

The new intergenerational preschool will serve 3- and 4-year-olds in the Perry community alongside the Acorns and Oaks Christian Daycare, which has provided babies and children age 6 weeks through 5 years with intergenerational care since 2017.

For more information, visit the Acorns and Oaks website.


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