Julie Willoughby became director of Dutilh Preschool on March 15.
Her experience and qualifications span several years.
As director of the pre-kindergarten program and assistant at Grace Community Church's preschool program until 2018, Willoughby was a teacher and leader for five years.
She briefly stepped away in 2019 to be home with her own preschooler, then opted to be at home for another year to support her children's learning during the pandemic.
As Willoughby's youngest child heads into full-time school as a first-grader this fall, she is eager to return to her passion of working in preschool ministry.
“Spend five minutes with Julie Willoughby and you will discover three things: she loves Jesus, she loves her family and she loves children,” said Rev. Tom Parkinson, senior pastor at Dutilh Church. “That deep love, combined with her considerable gifts in leadership and early-childhood education, make her a great fit to lead Dutilh Preschool.”
With an undergraduate degree in communications and a master's degree in elementary education — both from the University of Pittsburgh — Willoughby accepted a second-grade teaching position in Richmond, Va., after graduate school.
She taught there for five years, working closely with students and families to support student learning.
Willoughby and her husband, Tom, moved back to Pennsylvania in 2012. That's when she began working in preschool education.
At Grace Church, she implemented preschool curriculum and designed lessons and activities for preschool classes.
As part of her role, Willoughby recruited, equipped and trained between 50 and 100 volunteers and created a monthly outreach program to connect families within the church community.
Willoughby said the role as director of Dutilh Preschool is a perfect fit for her life and professional gifts, allowing her to be present for her family.
“I am excited to get to work with preschoolers and their families, to support them and to form relationships with them,” Willoughby said. “I am also so looking forward to being a resource and support for the teachers.”
Registration for fall 2021 classes at Dutilh Preschool is open now. For more information or to register, visit dutilhpreschool.org.