Children’s Center


2024 March-May Term

Registration is open Feb 5 at NOON EST until Feb 19th

The First United Methodist Church of Murphy is excited to announce the opening of our new Children’s Center, a Montessori-based preschool for children ages 3 to 5!  Online registration will be open from February 5th at noon until February 19, 2024.  Enrollment will be awarded on a first come, first served basis until all spots are filled.  Links to all forms can be found below.  Classes will begin on March 4, 2024 and follow the Cherokee County Schools’ Calendar until the end of May 2024.  Students who are already enrolled will be able to continue enrollment for the Fall 2024 term. Thank you for your interest in our learning community!


The Children’s Center is a ministry of the First United Methodist church that provides high-quality, affordable, Montessori-based preschool for children ages 3-5. We offer a peaceful, child-centered learning environment in five key areas of traditional Montessori study: mathematics, language, practical life, sensorial, and cultural studies. Children progress through the curriculum at their own pace based on their development and interests with teachers acting as guides to nurture them toward mastery of skills and independence. Children have weekly chapel time with FUMC’s pastor to learn principles of Christian faith and spiritual formation. Children of any or no faith tradition are welcome in our preschool community. We also include exposure to art, music, dance, drama, and social and emotional skill building.  The FUMC Children’s center is a safe and loving environment where childhood is celebrated, learning is joyful, and children are nurtured into confidence and independence. 



Preschool will be held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 to 11:30 am in the newly renovated basement of the FUMC sanctuary building at 73 Valley River Avenue in downtown Murphy, NC.  Our time together will include independent and collaborative learning in Montessori-based work, whole group instruction through music, dance, and drama, snack time, and outdoor play on our new playground.  Students must be fully potty trained to attend.  


The cost per child is $250/month plus an annual materials fee of $125 due at the beginning of the first month of enrollment.  A registration fee of $25 is payable at the time of registration and is non-refundable. FUMC has created a Designated Fund to supply partial or full scholarships as needed.  Applications can be found below and will be reviewed by the FUMC Children’s Center Scholarship Committee for consideration.   


Our staff are certified teachers with decades of experience and are deeply committed to providing exceptional classroom instruction. 

Bridget Rue Esterhuizen, Director and Lead Teacher, is a certified, experienced educator with 20 years in Education.  She has a BA in Elementary Education from St. Norbert College (Wisconsin) and an MFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Idaho.  Bridget has taught every grade level from preschool to college. Before moving to Murphy, NC, two years ago, Bridget was the Director of the Theatre Program at Davis and Elkins College, WV, and Assistant Professor of Theater.

Currently a mother of 2 small children, ages 5 and 3, she has focused on full-time parenthood, which prompted her interest in being on the team to form this preschool. Bridget is also a professional actor, musician, and vocalist.  Bridget is excited to serve the FUMC Children’s Center’s goal of providing a part-time Montessori-based preschool option for families in our community!


JoannMoore, Assistant Teacher,  is a retired educator with more than 30 years in the classroom, Joann brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to FUMC’s Children’s Center. Joann has degrees in Early Childhood Education from Tift University and Mercer University Atlanta where she earned her Masters. She taught elementary school for thirty-one years in the third, fourth, and fifth grades. After retirement, Joann continued teaching as a long term substitute in kindergarten and first grade classrooms. She also has experience as a professional nanny for children from one to five years old. Joann is excited to be back in the classroom and looks forward to teaching our preschoolers!



For more information, please contact Bridget Esterhuizen, Preschool Director, for more information at

REGISTRATION FORM:  To complete a registration form for the March-May semester and pay the $25 fee, click here to register.

FINANCIAL AID:  For information on scholarships and financial aid applications, please click on this link, then download and fill out the form and return it to the FUMC Church Office.  We ask that you complete a financial aid application before February 18th.

PARENT HANDBOOK:  For more information about our curriculum and a copy of the Parent Handbook: FUMC Children’s Center Parent Handbook

OTHER RESOURCES: Below is a link for the Cherokee County school calendar (which is what we follow for all school holidays, starts, ends, and closures) and a wonderful document by Simone Davies, a Montessori Educator, that can be a resource for you as a guide at home. Thank you for your interest in being part of our learning community!

Cherokee County School Calendar, 2023-2024 

Simone Davies’ pdf,  “Instead of This, Say That”


What do you mean by “potty trained”?  My child still has some accidents and needs help wiping!  We recognize that there will be a continuum of potty independence for the children who are enrolled. We will give children some assistance with wiping and navigating the bathroom setup until they are independent.  But, at the minimum, we require that each child: 1) be wearing cloth undies, 2) be able to signal to us (sign language or verbally) when they need to use the bathroom in enough advance to get to the bathroom, 3) be able to delay going to the bathroom while walking to it, if someone else is using it, or if we are on the playground 4) be able to ask for help if they need it, 5) be able to wash their hands afterward.  We expect there to be occasional accidents for younger children as they adjust to routines and separation from their caregivers and especially in the first few weeks. If your child fits this description 90% then they are probably ready to be enrolled!  

My child isn’t potty trained yet. Can I still register? At this time, we ask that you wait to register until your child is fully independent with toileting.

What is the student-teacher ratio?  We follow the state-mandated guidelines of a ratio of 1 teacher for every 9 children and a classroom limit of 18 total children.  We have two teachers with the children at all times.

Will there be a snack? Outside time?  Yes and yes.  All questions about the daily routine are also answered in our handbook. (see the link above)

Do you require the children to be vaccinated?  At this time, we do not.  However we do encourage you to vaccinate your child and keep their vaccinations up to date including COVID boosters.  

What are the next steps after I register?  You will be sent a confirmation email immediately after you register.  We will then email you about your acceptance by February 20th or 2 weeks after your application (whichever comes first).  If you are accepted, you will be emailed an online intake form to fill out and given information about an in-person orientation which will answer your questions about starting! If your child is eligible but not accepted for enrollment this term (which is based on a first-come-first-serve time-stamped order of online registration) you will be placed on a waitlist.  We will contact you if space becomes available either during the term or in the enrollment period.

Is there a waitlist for rolling enrollment? Yes.  You can register and be placed on our waitlist if your child will turn a minimum of three years old and be potty-trained during the academic term that you are registering for.  Your child may not begin enrollment until they have turned three, are potty trained, and there is an available slot for them.  Four and five-year-olds may also be placed on the waiting list.  Although a five-year-old who will turn six during the academic year may be too old for our program (this will be determined by their birthdate and other factors).

Can I get on an email list to be informed of Fall enrollment?  Yes.  Click here to be added to our mailing list for notifications of events, programs, and enrollment information.