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Little Lights Preschool set to open at end of month
little lights pic
Little Lights Preschool Director Karen Talloni and Turlock United Methodist Church Pastor Joe Major had originally hoped that the churchs new school would open last fall, but after longer-than-expected renovations Little Lights is now prepared to open on Jan. 30. - photo by Journal file photo

Type of business: Preschool


Location: 1660 Arbor Way


Contact information: 209-585-0632


Specialty: Theme-based curriculum


History of business:


After months of renovations, First United Methodist Church in Turlock is ready to unveil their newest venture, Little Lights Preschool. Registration has been underway for several months, and the brand new preschool is ready to begin welcoming students at the end of January.

Little Lights was originally expected to open last fall, but a complete overhaul of the church’s Westley Wing, which includes renovated classrooms, children restrooms, doors, windows and a new play structure took longer than expected, said Little Light Board Member and spokesperson Ali Cox-Verissimo.

“The facility is gorgeous and, of course, safe and up to code, which was worth a few extra months,” she said. “The preschool renovation, curriculum planning and community help has exceeded all of our expectations.”

The preschool is an extension of the church’s educational and outreach ministries, which also includes nursery care, Sunday School and Junior and Senior High Fellowship Groups. Through engaging themes, the preschool’s play-based program encourages growth and is in alignment with the California Early Learning Foundation. Little Lights will offer classes with an integrated, theme-based curriculum for children ages 3-5, and will involve weekly or biweekly topics which lessons and activities will revolve around.

“Our director, Karen Talloni, has developed a theme-based schedule that will, for example, range from scripture lessons to teddy bears to fruits and vegetables to colors,” said Cox-Verissimo. “These themes will be the inspiration for the week’s activities, including prayer, grace, stories, song, science experiments, field trips, cooking and more.”

Talloni relocated to Turlock from Connecticut a year ago, and though she is new to the community, preschool education is something she is very familiar with. Previously, Talloni served as head teacher at Christ Church Nursery School in Easton, Connecticut, where she was responsible for organizing and maintaining a nurturing environment for students, as well as filling in for the school’s director on occasion.

Talloni brought several ideas with her from Connecticut to Little Lights Preschool, like the school’s Mommy & Me Program and its Enrichment Program. The Mommy & Me Program is unique to Little Lights and is a weekly class meant to familiarize both mother and child with the preschool, along with providing an opportunity for socializing and forming connections with other children and parents. The Enrichment Program is an additional service which follows the school’s morning session. For an extra fee, children can stay at Little Lights longer and experience activities which enhance the themed curriculum, including additional projects and playtime.

In addition to the theme-based curriculum that Talloni has created, there are several other characteristics which set Little Lights apart from other preschools in town, Cox-Verissimo said. The preschool is nut free — a rule they enforce to avoid any allergy emergencies. Also, Little Lights is a smaller school, meaning each child receives more personalized attention than they would in a larger classroom setting.

Little Lights features two curriculums: Three Year Curriculum and 4’s and 5’s Curriculum. The 3-year old class is a play and theme-based class which focuses on the development of social, cognitive and fine and large motor skills. The 4’s class and 5’s class will take some objectives from the 3’s class, along with an additional focus on kindergarten preparation as well as development of early literacy and math skills.

According to Cox-Verissimo, the class rosters at Little Lights are about half filled in anticipation of the preschool’s Jan. 30 opening, and there is still room for 15 more students in the 3’s and 4’s classes. Parents who are interested in enrolling their children at Little Lights are invited to two open houses; the first will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 19, and the second from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Jan. 21 at the school, located at 1660 Arbor Way in Turlock.

 Registration for Little Lights is open year-round, and those interested may register by contacting Talloni at or by calling 585-0632.