The Growing Place Preschool

Mission Statement

The goal of The Growing Place Preschool of Heritage United Methodist Church is to teach children to know Jesus through a personal relationship with Him. We strive to teach children to love as Jesus loves and to develop compassion for those around them. We stress the importance of diversity in activities as well as teaching styles in order to reach each child at his or her level of ability and understanding, preparing them socially, physically and academically for the next step. It is our responsibility to nurture these children and their families as they grow spiritually, so they can live for Jesus in our community and in our world today.


Our Vision

Growing in God’s Love

The PTC Meeting dates are:

TIME: 9-9:30 am, Monthly coffee socials in the Atrium

The PTC Executive Board Meeting dates are:

TIME: 12:30-2 pm; 2nd Tuesday of Sept, Nov, Jan, Mar and May


The National Association for the Education of Young Children (naeyc) and Golden Seal through the State of Florida.


. Email-Logo Contact us by email.

Dear Parents, The Growing Place will be using an online registration for the 2017-2018 school year. Please check our website often for registration information.


>>>>>  REGISTER HERE  <<<<<


  1. Registration for The Growing Place 2018-2019 school year will be:
    2018 Enrollment PeriodTimesFor2018 Due Date
    February 5 - February 810:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.Church Members, Returning Families, & Active MilitaryFebruary 9
    February 12 - February 1510:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.All New FamiliesFebruary 16
  2. Note: If you are on the wait-list, do not do #3.
  3. Print a copy of your Enrollment Forms and return them along with a check for $100 (non-refundable Registration Fee $75 for additional siblings) made payable to Heritage United Methodist Church by the date above. Please be aware that registering your child online is only a reservation. This reservation will be confirmed when the completed forms and fees are returned by their due date. .

NOTE: Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) students do not pay a Registration Fee. Parents are responsible for returning the Enrollment Forms and a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County Office to the preschool by the above date.   VPK applications are now being accepted through the online VPK system only. Eligible families are encouraged to go online, at any time to complete their 2018-2019 Fall VPK applications at Parents must also upload supporting documents (proof of residency and proof of child’s age) online to receive a Certificate of Eligibility.


Registration Categories

  • One Year Olds
    • Tuesday & Wednesday     9:05 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.: $164/month
    • Thursday & Friday     9:05 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.: $164/month


  • Two Year Olds
    • Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday     9:05 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.: $246/month
    • Thursday & Friday     9:05 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.: $164/month


  • Three Year Olds
    • Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday     9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: $246/month
    • Thursday & Friday     9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: $164/month
    • Monday through Friday     9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: $365/month **
      **Subject to change to a 3 day MTW class based on enrollment numbers**


  • Four Year Olds(VPK)
    • Monday thru Friday      9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Free
    • Private Pay VPK: Monday thru Friday     9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: $400/month


If the class you are requesting is full, please call the preschool office at 727.479.0420 to be placed on the wait-list. Required Registration Forms (Adobe PDF format)

Every line on the Enrollment Form must be filled out completely. Leaving blank spaces or writing “same as above” will delay your child’s enrollment. If your child does not have a dentist, please fill in that space with your child’s pediatrician’s name and address.

Current school physical & immunization records on HRS forms will be due in August.

We are thrilled that you have chosen to enroll your child at The Growing Place Preschool and we are looking forward to a wonderful school year.

 *Annual**SemesterMonth*** Supply Fee
Two Days$1502.20
(5% discount = $73.80)
(due August 1/January 1)
$164.00Please add $100 Supply Fee to August payment
Three Days$2,203.30
(5% discount = $110.70)
(due August 1/January 1)
$246.00Please add $100 Supply Fee to August payment
Five Days
(VPK Private Pay)
(5% discount = $180.00)
(due August 1/January 1)
$400.00Please add $100 Supply Fee to August payment
Five DaysTraditional VPK is FREE
No Supply Fee for Traditional VPK

*Annual payment amount already includes 5% discount AND the supply fee.


**First semester payment amount includes supply fee.


***Supply Fees MUST BE PAID with August payment.   Please include your email address with your August payment.   You will receive monthly Tuition Statements via email, which will also serve as a reminder when tuition is due.


If you are making monthly payments, there will be nine (9) monthly payments, beginning on August 1 and continuing through April 1. You are always paying a month ahead, so your last payment will be due April 1, and you will not make a payment in May.   Please realize that you will need to mail your August payment.   Your September payment will be due the first week of school, NO LATER THAN the 5th!   Payment is always due on the first and late after the fifth of the month. Any payments postmarked after the fifth will incur a $25 late fee.


Withdrawal Policy

If your plans change with regard to your child’s attendance at The Growing Place Preschool, please let us know as soon as possible.  This would greatly benefit another child and parent.  Your first tuition payment, due August 1st, will be refunded to you if you notify The Growing Place Director, in writing, on or before September 1, 2018.  If it is necessary to withdraw your child between September 1st and the end of the school year, you must provide 30 day written notice and are responsible for that month’s tuition.  All prepaid tuition will be refunded upon receipt of written 30 day notice

Student Teach Ratio   
1 Year Olds8 students per class2 Year Olds 10 students per class
1 Teacher1 Teacher
1 Assistant1 Assistant
Our primary goal for our Tiny Tots is to develop a love for God, their families and their playmates. We want to help the children become aware of and have an interested in the world around them through hands on activities. We will work to help the children develop their vocabulary and feel at ease expressing themselves in the group. It is our primary desire that each child enjoy creative activities that will help him/her develop spiritually, physically and emotionally. The teacher and her assistant are responsible for preparing activities and curriculum to meet the needs of each child. The Growing Place has an assistant for each class in our program.

The Tiny Tots Staff 2017-2018

  • Colleen Lastowski, Director of The Growing Place
  • Stephanie Strelcheck, Assistant Director

    • Heather Joyce-Stevens  – 1 year olds
    • Lauren Lopez – 2 year olds
    • Kylie Shrum – 2 year olds
    • Melissa Young – 2 year olds
  • Assistants:
    • Annie Engelman- 1 year olds
    • Robin Davis – 2 year olds
    • Jana Wildridge – 2 year olds
    • Glicy Colby – 2 year olds

The Tiny Tots Schedule

1 year old: 9:05 am – 11:50 am.    2 year old 9:05 am – 11:50 am. 

TeachersMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridayRoom #
Heather Joyce-Stevens/Annie Engelman1 yr1 yr1yr1 yrD119
Lauren Lopez/Jana Wildridge2 yr2 yr2 yr2 yr2 yrD115
Kylie Shrum/Robin Davis2 yr2 yr2 yrD117
Melissa Young/Gilcy Colby2 yr2 yrD117
Program Hours: 9:05 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. 
Classes for 1 Year OldsTuesday/Wednesday and Thursday/Friday2 and 1 day classes
Classes for 2 Year OldsMonday/Tuesday/Wednesday or Thursday/Friday2 and 3 day classes

Student / Teacher Ratios  

Student Teach Ratio   
3 Year Olds15 students per class4 Year Olds 17 students per class
1 Teacher1 Teacher
1 Assistant1 Assistant

The Preschool Staff 2017-2018

  • Colleen Lastowski, Director of The Growing Place
  • Stephanie Strelcheck, Assistant Director
  • Teachers:
    • Jessica Goble – 4 year olds
    • Jill Whitney – 4 year olds
    • Heidi Laurent 4 year olds
    • Eileen Hermann – 3 year olds
    • Elaine Pepi – 3 year olds
    • Kristin Baugher – 3 year olds
  • Teacher Assistants:
    • Christina Ussia – 4 year olds
    • Tara Casey – 4 year olds
    • Alicia Hoskins – 4 year olds
    • Glicer Colby – 3 year olds
    • Carolyn Emrich – 3 year olds
  • Lunch Bunch Coordinator
    • Stephanie Strelcheck
  • Music:
    • Kimberly Wilmas
  • Financial Assistant:
    • Elaine Pepi

Preschool Schedule

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.  3 years old 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.  VPK only

TeachersMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridayRoom #
Pepi/Hermann3 yr3 yr3 yrD124
Hermann/Emrich3 yr3 yrD124
Baugher/Colby3 yr3 yr3 yrD128

Wednesday, August 22Parent Orientation
Thursday, August 23Children’s Open House
Monday, August 27 First Day of School
Monday, September 3Labor Day – No School
Wednesday, September 12 No Lunch Bunch – Staff Meeting
Monday, October 15 Prof. Dev. Day – No School
Friday, October 26 Conferences – No School
Tuesday, November 6 No Lunch Bunch – Staff Meeting
Monday, November 19 – Friday, November 23Thanksgiving Holidays
Wednesday, December 19 & Friday, December 21Family Christmas Parties & Shortened Day for Students
Monday, December 24 - Friday, January 4Christmas Holidays
Monday, January 7 Prof. Dev. Day – No School
Tuesday, January 8 School Reopens
Monday, January 21 MLK Day – No School
Wednesday, February 6 No Lunch Bunch – Staff Meeting
Monday, February 18 Prof. Dev. Day – No School
Tuesday, March 5 No Lunch Bunch – Staff Meeting
Friday, March 8 Conferences – No School
Monday, March 11 – Friday, March 15Spring Break – No School
Wednesday, April 10 No Lunch Bunch – Staff Meeting
Wednesday, April 17 Easter Picnic – After Dismissals
Friday, April 19 Good Friday – No School
Monday, April 22 Easter Monday – No School
Friday, May 10 Last Day of School

** Hurricane make-up days (if necessary) **

1 Day2 Days3 Days4 Days
Oct. 15, 2018Oct. 15, 2018Oct. 15, 2018Oct. 15, 2018
Jan. 7, 2019Jan. 7, 2019Nov. 19, 2018
Mar. 8, 2019Nov. 20, 2018
Jan. 7, 2019

Our Policies

Please make sure that you have downloaded and signed each of our policy forms in order for your child to register with The Growing Place Preschool. These forms are: Discipline/Expulsion Policy, Food/Nutrition Policy, and our Withdrawl Policy. These policies are also listed below.

These forms will give us the best preparation in caring for your child while they are with us and returning them promptly is greatly appreciated.

Health Policy

Dress your child in: clothes suitable for art, playground, tumbling, etc. that are simple, study, safe, not too tight, and easy to manage. (Label jackets and sweaters.) Pull-Ups are not allowed. Children in 3’s and VPK must be fully toilet trained. Please make sure that shoes are the right size, safe for climbing activities, no clogs, flip flops, or boots.   Keep your child home when he/she has:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Chronic cough
  • A fever or chills
  • Inflamed eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • New Medication
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Open sores
  • Impetigo
  • Head lice
  • Earache

Your child must be free of the above symptoms for 24 hours before returning to school. If your child has a doctor’s appointment due to a chronic symptom or condition, please keep your child at home that morning until the doctor can make an assessment. These guidelines are in place for your child’s good health, as well as that of the teacher and other children in the classroom. If your child is not well enough to participate in class activities and those on the playground, please keep your child at home.

Discipline Policy

The ultimate goal of our discipline policy is to promote healthy self-esteem in each child.   We do this by:

  • Providing a loving Christian atmosphere for students and staff.
  • Building a positive attitude toward God, self, others and school.
  • Encouraging parental involvement.
  • Setting clear expectations for behavior.
  • We will not allow children to hurt themselves, others or destroy property.

We will not allow children to hurt themselves, others or destroy property. Our purpose is to use natural consequences, redirection, and positive reinforcement. Our staff is prohibited from subjecting any child to discipline which is severe, humiliating, frightening, or associated with food, rest, or toileting. Spanking, shaking, or any other form of physical punishment is also prohibited by all staff.

If a child’s behavior becomes a challenge in the classroom, a parent-teacher conference will be requested. A plan of cooperation will be formulated to correct the challenging behavior. In the event of an ongoing problem, The Growing Place Director and the Director of Children’s Ministry will confer with the teacher and parents to develop a plan appropriate for the child. If the team of adults feels that more professional help is warranted, an Early Childhood Specialist for the Pinellas County License Board will be consulted. This consultation will require written agreement fro the parents, teacher, Director of The Growing Place, and the Director of Children’s Ministry.

However, in the event that the challenges are not resolved or that it is determined that the needs of the child are not being met, The Growing Place Director reserves the right to terminate the child from the program.

Food Safety and Nutrition Policy

The Growing Place Preschool does not provide meals for any of the children in the program. However, daily healthy snacks will be served and will be provided by the families in all age groups. All snacks much be store-bought; juices need to be 100% natural; milk and water are encouraged. Fres fruits and vegetables need to be washed and cut in our kitchen only. A refriferator is available in our kitchen for all perishable snack items. All classrooms have a cooler bag with ice packs as well. All perishable snacks and drinks will be kept in the refrigerator until snack time and returned as soon as snack time is over.

Occasionally VPK and 3 year old classrooms do cooking activities to extend their curriculum. Safety precautions will be as follows: Children will not be near the stove/oven or be allowed near knives. All staff, parents, and children will wash hands before and after cooking. Food gloves must be used when touching any of the food – including snack distrubution. The items cooked must not be higher than 110 degrees F when served to the children.

Foods that are choking hazards to children under the age of 4 will not be served. This will include items such as: hot dogs, popcorn, whole grapes, nuts, chips and other foods that would be able to get stuck in a child’s windpipe/trachea.

Every child enrolled will have a Food Experience permission form, signed annually, that is located in the child’s file for the school year.

Classroom Snacks

Due to new Health Department guidelines, home-prepared food items, from staff and parents, intended for distribution among the children, are prohibited. Therefore, snacks must be delivered in original, unopened, store-bought packages.

Some nutritious snack ideas:

  • pretzels
  • cheese crackers
  • raisins
  • goldfish crackers
  • graham crackers

NOTE: When bringing “Treat bags” for birthdays or holiday class parties, please do not include gum, small hard candy or bags of nuts.


You may send in a special treat for your child’s birthday. Please discuss your plans with your child’s teacher prior to their birthday. Please DO NOT send in cakes or cupcakes. (They are too messy.) May we suggest cookies, ice cream in individual cups or popsicles. Please do not send invitations to parties via school, unless every classmate is being invited. Summer birthdays will be celebrated prior to the end of the school year.

Growing Place FAQs

Why does The Growing Place start after Pinellas County Schools begin and end earlier than Pinellas County Schools do?

We start later and end earlier than Pinellas County Schools for two reasons. The first reason is that The Growing Place staff is given an opportunity to be there for their own children as they begin school and to be able to participate in their end of the year activities as well. The second reason is that because we provide VPK during the school year, our calendar must be limited to 540 clock hours.

What are Professional Development Days?

Professional Development days are when The Growing Place staff is completing the annual training that is required by The Pinellas County Licensing Board. This insures that the teachers and assistants in your child’s classroom are constantly learning new techniques to enhance the way your child is taught. The Growing Place preschool has the same Professional Development days as Pinellas County Schools.

Why do we dismiss three and four year olds in carline?

We sent home a parent survey at the end of the school year and based on your responses, parents agree this is the fastest and safest way to dismiss a large group of children at one time. It is also good practice for when your child starts elementary school.

Why are the hours different at each age level?

We stagger the drop off times to allow families with siblings to be able to drop off older children first. The early pick up time for the one and two year olds allows our youngest children to get to and from their classes with fewer people in the hallway. It also prevents Tiny Tot parents from getting caught in our three year old carline.

When is tuition due for The Growing Place Preschool?

Tuition is broken down into nine monthly payments and is due at the beginning of each month beginning on August 1 and ending with the April 1 tuition payment. Tuition is paid a month in advance. For example, in August you pay for September and in September you will pay for October. The only exception to this payment schedule is if a family joins us later in the school year, in which case they will make a May 1 tuition payment.

If your child does not attend school on the first of each month, you are still responsible for tuition. You will need to mail your tuition payment or stop by the preschool office to make a payment. Please be aware that tuition received after the fifth of each month is considered a late payment and will be assessed a $25 late fee.

When will parents find out who their child has as a teacher?

Letters are sent out in the middle of August to notify parents who will be their child’s teacher and to let parents know about important dates and items needed for the beginning of school.

Potty Training

Potty training is a milestone that requires time and patience. Please be aware that children are required to be fully potty trained to enter our three year old program at The Growing Place Preschool. While we recognize starting school is an adjustment for children, it is difficult to keep the classroom a safe and sanitary environment when toileting accidents happen.


What does being fully potty trained mean? A child is not in pull ups or diapers. He or she recognizes and communicates the need to use the bathroom. The child is consistently using the potty and going multiple days at home without having an accident. He or she is able to attend the entire school day without having an accident. Finally, they are able to wipe themselves, flush the toilet and wash their hands once they have completed using the restroom.


As a parent, you can help by dressing your child in beltless and or elastic waist clothing. This makes it easier for your child to be successful in using the restroom.


By following these guidelines, we hope to make potty training a positive and successful experience for your child. Thank you for your cooperation.


Parents may put their child on a waitlist once a class has been filled during Registration. Parents may also add their child to the waitlist during the school year. Once the preschool is notified of an opening the Director or the Assistant Director will call the first person on the waitlist. Parents will be given 24 hours to accept or decline the spot. This procedure continues until the spot is filled. Please note that once classes begin a child that is currently enrolled will not be moved to another class, even if they were on the waitlist.

Why do we meet on consecutive days?

We feel that children adapt to the classroom environment sooner when their classes meet back to back. By attending consecutive days children are provided with the consistency that they need to help them establish a regular routine and to develop friendships. The children become more familiar with the classroom and what is expected of them. The teachers are able to build on the curriculum while it is still relevant to the child, allowing for easier retention. In addition, it helps to lay a foundation for what will be expected of them in the years to come.

Why are we a part-time preschool?

Our program was designed to meet the needs of families that are specifically looking to enroll their child in a half-day Christian program. We are periodically asked why we do not offer a full-time program. Parent surveys, tours and phone calls consistently confirm that the families that we serve chose us because we are one of the few places that continue to offer part-time. Therefore, our new building was built and licensed with that in mind.

What is the difference between day care and preschool?

The main difference between a day care center and a preschool are the hours that the children attend. Day Care Centers usually care for children on a full-time/daily basis. Preschools typically care for children on a part-time/half day basis. In addition, the focus in preschools is on educational experiences that are combined with socialization and play.



Families often ask what they can donate to the preschool and or their child’s classroom. Here is a list of items that are always needed throughout the school year:


  • Tissues
  • Lysol or Clorox wipes
  • Post-It notes
  • Sharpies
  • Expo markers
  • Paper Towels
  • Glue Sticks