PALS History: A Kindergarten at PALS

How PALS started a Kindergarten

by Deborah Shaw Lewis

First United Methodist started a Kindergarten – half day, four days a week.  And immediately that was full.

So PALS parents began to ask me: “Would PALS open a kindergarten?  Half day, four days a week?”

And on Friday, April 24, 2012, two parents, Jenny Long and Tanya Hicks, stopped me as I went to get into my car at the end of the day, and asked: “Debi, what could we do to enable you to start a kindergarten at PALS? For our children next Fall.”

They had their children playing on the playground at the end of the day.

I told them what I’d told other parents:

– My job is part time. I’m already working full time hours. I really don’t need to add another room.

– The only room available is Room 208.  That room has a 5th & 6th grade boys Sunday School class.  I don’t want to step on those toes.

– And Room 208 is across the hall from Dr. David Campbell’s office. He probably doesn’t need a classroom that close to his office.

We continued to discuss the idea until I said, “Well, let me pray about it.”

And I didn’t really mean I wanted to pray about it.  I meant, it’s Friday afternoon and I’m ready to go home.

But the following Tuesday, in my morning quiet time, I finally prayed over it.  I whined to God, “Lord, you know I’m working too many hours.  Starting a kindergarten at PALS will be SO much work.  Much more work than a part-time job.

“Lord, if you want me to start a kindergarten, you’re going to have to open the door. In fact, you will need to throw the doors open.”

Then I turned to the Upper Room devotional for that day.  And the topic was, “Is God opening a door in your life, and you are refusing to go through it?”

Oh, my! I thought.  Maybe I need to take this more seriously.

 And I watched God start throwing the doors open.

I called David Campbell.  He said he would LOVE to have a kindergarten in the room across the hall from his office.

Then I looked up the state requirements for a Kindergarten.  And found out that in Georgia, parents are not required to send their child to kindergarten.  Only to first grade.  And there are no additional Bright From the Start requirements for a half-day kindergarten.

So, I wouldn’t need to deal with any additional state regulations.

Then we found Jennifer Henson to be the teacher.  She and her family had just moved from Pennsylvania, where she had taught kindergarten using Land of the Letter People curriculum.

On her recommendation, we decided use Land of the Letter People curriculum. We ordered the minimum curriculum order, around $2000, with the plan to order more each year.

I got on Craig’s List, looking for a table and some chairs for kindergarten.  And found our red round table and four chairs.

AND, an amazing “coincidence”:  that same person selling the table and chairs was also selling an incomplete set of Land of the Letter People curriculum.  That “incomplete set” contained ALL of the Land of the Letter People materials that we had not yet ordered — that we had thought it would take us another 2 or 3 years to acquire. With a second set of puppets and second set of easy reader books.  We paid $500, for the curriculum …. and the table and chairs, some riding toys for the playground and a large, plastic playground climber.

I drove down to Marietta to pick all that up.  Coming back to Rome, I stopped by the church to drop that off.  And found that our order of Land of the Letter People curriculum has arrived by mail that day.  So we had the full Land of the Letter People Curriculum in the office, on the same day.





PALS History: Debi Lewis Returned as PALS Director in 2008

Debi Lewis Returned to PALS in 2008

by Deborah Shaw Lewis

In September, 2008, I heard the news that Starr Moran was leaving PALS.

– The first day I prayed, “Lord, help Trinity to find exactly the right person to be the new director. PALS is such a unique ministry. We will need exactly the right person.”

– The second day, I prayed, “Lord, are You thinking I should do this again? Really?  I should be looking for a full-time job.  Not PALS again.”

– The third day, I prayed, “Okay, Lord, if you want me to be PALS Director again, You will need to give me a clear calling to do that.

“And, Lord, put that call in the Upper Room Devotional for today.”

And I turned to my Upper Room Devotional.  The Scripture for the day was John 21.  Where Jesus and the disciples are eating breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

John 21:

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my lambs.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.


So, from September 2008 until May 2023, my call from God was to “take care of God’s lambs at PALS.”

Our New Kindergarten Teacher – Shannon Godfrey

We welcome Shannon Godfrey as our Kindergarten teacher!

“I am happy to be named the new kindergarten teacher at PALS. My husband, Matt, and I were greatly blessed by PALS when our youngest two of 3 children attended here. I have a passion for working with young children and hope to inspire growth and learning as we embark on the adventure that is kindergarten!”

Calendar 2023-24

PALS calendar 2023-2024   updated May 17, 2023


  • 9 – First Day of PALS 


  • 4 – Labor Day (No PALS)
  • 18 – Floyd County Schools holiday – No PALS



  • 9 – 16 – Fall Break (No PALS)



  • 20-24 – Thanksgiving Holiday (No PALS)



  • 15 – Last Day of PALS before Christmas
  • 16 —January 8 – Christmas Holidays (No PALS)



  • 8 – PALS resumes
  • 15 – MLK Holiday (No PALS)



  • 16-19 – Winter Break (No PALS)



  • 22 – Student Holiday



  • 8 – 12 – Spring Break (No PALS)


  • 17 – Last Day of PALS

PALS follows the Floyd County Schools for holidays and weather closures.

Please check PALS emails/Facebook group for updates/changes.

Calendar 2019-20

PALS calendar 2019-2020 


  • 15 – Usborne Book Fair begins with The Grand Event

Grandparents are invited to a luncheon with their grandchild.
Tickets are $10 per adult and $5 per child

  • 15 – 22 – Usborne Book Fair
  • 20 – Thanksgiving Feast for 2 and 3 year olds & families
  • 22 – Thanksgiving Feast for preK and kindergarteners & families
  • 25-29 – Thanksgiving Holiday (No PALS)


  • 11 – Santa & Mrs. Claus Come to PALS
  • 16 – Mrs. Santa Reads to PALS
  • 19 – Longest Night Service at Trinity UMC
  • 20 – Last Day of PALS before Christmas
  • 20- 24 – Live Nativity at Trinity
  • 23 – January 4 – Christmas Holidays (No PALS)


  • 7 – PALS resumes
  • 15 – Pajama Day
  • 20 – MLK Holiday (No PALS)


  • 19 – Donuts with Dads (change of date)
  • 14-17 – Winter Break (No PALS)


  • 2 -6 – Dr. Seuss Birthday Week
  • 13 – Student Holiday


  • 3 – Stuffed Animal Day
  • 6-10 – Spring Break (No PALS)
  • 24 – Farm Animals at PALS


  • 13 -Muffins for Moms
  • 15 – Last Day of PALS

PALS follows the Floyd County School calendar for holidays.

Please check PALS emails/Facebook group for updates/changes.

Our Director: Debra Malone

Debra Malone



University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Degree:  EdS (2002-2004)

University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia

Degree:  MA/MS (1996-1998) – Awards Kappa Delta Pi-International Honor Society in Education

Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia

Degree:  BA/BS (1983-1986)

Gordon College, Barnesville, Georgia

Degree:  AA (1981-1983)


Accompanist, 01/2022 – Current

Trinity United Methodist Church – Rome, Georgia

Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, 06/2013 – 06/2021

Cartersville Middle School (Grades 6-8)

Cartersville City School System – Cartersville, Georgia

Assistant Principal, 06/2009 – 06/2013

Holsenbeck Elementary (Grades PreK-5th)

Barrow County School System – Winder, Georgia

Graduation Coach – 06/2006 – 06/2009

Coosa High School – (Grades 9-12)

Floyd County School System – Rome, Georgia

Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, 06/2000 – 06/2006

Coosa High School (Grades 9-12)

Floyd County School System – Rome, Georgia

Youth Director / Piano Accompanist, 1989 – 2002

Dykes Creek Baptist Church – Rome, Georgia

Elementary School Teacher, 08/1994 – 06/2000

McHenry Elementary (Grades PreK-5th)

Pepperell Elementary (Grades 4-5)

Floyd County School System – Rome, Georgia

Elementary School Teacher, 08/1987 – 06/1994

Jackson Road Elementary, Crescent Elementary, Orrs Elementary, Beaverbrook Elementary,

Suzie B. Atkinson Elementary – (all schools Grades PreK-5th)

Spalding County School System – Griffin, Georgia



National Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year, 2015-16

Georgia Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year, 2014-15

Floyd County Administrator of the Year, 2003

State of Georgia Semifinalist Teacher of the Year, 2000-01

Floyd County Teacher of the Year, 1999-2000



Georgia Association of Middle School Principals – Northwest Georgia, District 15, Representative for Middle School Principals (2012-2021)

Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals

Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development

National Educators Association

Georgia Educators Association

Professional Association of Georgia Educators



NEWS: Adding Tuesdays at PALS

PALS News: Adding Tuesdays – An Update

  • As of March 15, we have enough children enrolled to have Tuesday classes for 2B, three-year olds and prekindergarten.

If your child is currently enrolled for Fall 2017, in 2B, 3A, 3B, prekA or prekB, you have a choice:

1) You may leave your registration for Fall as it is. Your child is enrolled and that spot is guaranteed.

2) You may add Tuesday to your schedule for Fall. The increased tuition is below.

3) You may exchange one of the days you have enrolled for Fall for Tuesday. (For example, if your child is registered for Monday-Wednesday-Friday for Fall, you may change that to Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday.  Or, if your child is registered for Monday-Friday, you could change that to Tuesday-Friday or Monday-Tuesday. Or if your child is registered for Wednesday-Friday, you may change that to Tuesday-Friday or Tuesday-Wednesday.)

Tuition Rates will be:

Co-op           Full Tuition

1 day /week . . . . . .$80/month    $105/month

2 days/week . . . . . $110/month   $150/month

3 days/week . . . . . $135/month   $175/month

4 days/week . . . . . $165/month   $205/month

If you wish to make a change to your child’s schedule for Fall, please do so by email.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by email or phone.  We hope that by offering this option, we will provide an opportunity for more families to be a part of PALS, and also give our current PALS families added flexibility.

Thank you for letting us care for your children.  They are precious to us.

Deborah Lewis

Director of PALS



Calendar 2016-17

PALS calendar 2016-2017

PALS follows the Floyd County School calendar for holidays.  Please check PALS emails for updates/changes.


  • 6 – Orientation
    • Parents, children, siblings and grandparents are invited to drop by PALS and meet teachers and see the classrooms. 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. (Please note that this is a revised time.)
  • 10 – First Day of School
  • 17 – PALS Parents Brunch – 9 – 10 a.m.
    • All PALS parents invited, to meet and greet other PALS parents.
  • 15, 19, 24 – Coop Parent Training at 9:30 am, for about an hour.
    • ALL coop parents must attend one day, even if you’ve done this before.
  • 23 – Kindergarten Parents meeting – 6:30 pm in the Kindergarten room
  • 24 – Homeschool Gathering begins
  • 24 – Kid Fitness with the YMCA begins (in the choir room at Trinity)
  • 29 – Homeschool Parents meeting – 6:30 pm in the Homeschool Room


  •  5 – Labor Day (No PALS)
  • 7 – No YMCA/PALS Kid Fitness
  • 12 – Grandparents and Goodies – 9 – 10 a.m.
    • All PALS grandparents are invited to bring their grandchild to PALS, and to share a breakfast treat, before taking them to their class for the day.
  • 26 – Fall Photos – CHANGED DATE
  • 30-October 7 – Fall Break (No PALS or Kid Fitness with the YMCA)


  • 1-7 – Fall Break (No PALS or Kid Fitness with the YMCA)
  • 24 – Trip to the Pumpkin Patch – CHANGED DATE
  • 31 Halloween Dress-up Day


  • 11 – Usborne Book Fair begins with The Grand Event
    • Grandparents are invited to a luncheon with their grandchild.
  • 11 – 18 – Usborne Book Fair
  • 16 – Thanksgiving Feast for 2 and 3 year olds & families
  • 18 – Thanksgiving Feast for preK and kindergarteners & families
  • 21-25 – Thanksgiving Holiday (No PALS)


  • 9 – Mrs. Santa reads to the classes
  • 12 – Santa Visits PALS
  • 14 – Last Day of PALS before Christmas
  • 15 – January 3 – Christmas Holidays (No PALS)


  • 4 – PALS resumes
  • 11 – Pajama Day
  • 16 – MLK Holiday (No PALS)
  • 30 – Registration for Fall 2017 open to current PALS families


  • 13 – Donuts with Dads
  • 17-20 – Winter Break (No PALS)
  • 22 – Registration for Fall 2017 open to public
  • 27 – March 3 – Dr. Seuss Birthday Week


  • 24-31 – Spring Break (No PALS)


  • 14 – Good Friday (No PALS)


  • 15 -Muffins for Moms
  • 19 – Last Day of PALS

40 years of Ministry to Children & Families

Play and Learn Service – The History of PALS

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
(Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

PALS began as the dream and the vision of Mrs. Hilda Candler.  A retired teacher, “Miss Hilda” felt called to meet the need for a “Mothers’ Morning Out” Program for mothers and pre-schoolers here at Trinity United Methodist Church.  Existing programs at other churches were expensive and had long waiting lists, and Hilda wanted Trinity to offer a program for our members and those in our community.

So in May of 1983, PALS was born.  We did not start with paid workers; even Hilda was an unpaid volunteer. We just took turns staying and working, giving each other a few hours of desperately needed time off, and even more coveted, a time of adult companionship.  We used one large room, then, for all ages.  We paid a small fee, hoping to eventually have enough money to hire a paid worker.

But,  “If you build it, they will come…” and, indeed, we did! It wasn’t long before we separated the children into age groups – toddlers in the big room, and babies in the two small back rooms.  When we formed a third class, our older children met in what is now the baby nursery.  Liz Trammel was hired to work with that group in September 1983.


Bill Candler, Hilda’s husband, was an important part of our program.  He checked on us each time we met, always on the lookout for our needs.  He repaired furniture and toys; he even replaced puzzle pieces.  We looked forward to his visits.

The program grew to the point that we needed more classrooms, so Hilda took the four year olds upstairs.  And we expand to two days a week- Wednesdays and Fridays – a big step out in faith, believing that mothers would bring their children.  Dot Storey stepped in to help Hilda, as our Assistant Director, also a volunteer position.

Our playground in those days left a lot to be desired. The back part of the parking lot was not paved at that time – just bare grass with two old swing sets, where we took the children to play.  Thanks to the generosity of Ms. Martha King, a wonderful play area for our children soon occupied half of her backyard.  Paul & Eulaine Camp donated a new swing set and fence, and Gene Kendrick build the first sand table.  Aaron Holly, a PALS grad, organized the construction of the privacy fence that now safely surrounds our play area as his Boy Scout Eagle Project.FiveDirectors

In 1991, Bill Candler’s health began to fail, and Hilda needed to care for him. So she turned to Debi Lewis, a PALS mom and member of Trinity, and asked her to “take care of PALS,” until Bill got better. “Miss Debi” and her family had moved to Rome in 1988.  A woman committed to children and mothers, she was an answer to our prayers.  She provided the leadership we needed and allowed Hilda to leave knowing we were in good hands.

By that time we had grown to an enrollment of 35 children in four classes.  Under Debi’s leadership, PALS continued to grow and expand.  Debi’s background in child development, not to mention her own experience raising five children, made her a director who felt strongly about the needs of pre-schoolers, as well as the needs of mothers. She introduced parent newsletters to improve the communication with parents, and began the PALS Advisory Board. Debi continued as our director until December 1996, when she felt the need to spend more time with her family and her writing career.

In January 1997, Kim Holly became the director of PALS.  Once again, God lead us to a woman committed to the needs of young children and their mothers.  “Miss Kim’s” experience in special education brought PALS a broader scope of understanding of the needs of all pre-schoolers.  Under her leadership PALS continued to grow.  The three and four year old programs expanded to three days a week.  Kim began in-service training for PALS teachers and encouraged cooperative planning between age groups.  While Kim was director, Trinity’s Trustees renovated and expanded our nurseries into the beautiful facilities we enjoy today, and PALS continued to expand and fill those nurseries.

When Kim felt the need to return to her teaching career, Starr Moran became our director in January 2004.  “Miss Starr” was another Trinity mom who felt led to minister to mothers at home with their children.  Under Starr’s leadership, PALS grew, offering a three-day program for all age levels. Two additional classes were also added.  Starr organized staff meetings for all PALS teachers and provided organizational skills to keep PALS a growing and vibrant ministry.

Starr left her position as director in 2008 to return to the Berry College admissions department, and we were fortunate to have Anna Hobson-Sato fill in as interim director. An experienced PALS mom, she greeted potential parents and kept things running smoothly until a new director was hired in September 2008.

Once again we are blessed to have Debi Lewis serving as PALS director.  Her love for our PALS program and her enthusiasm for our ministry to babies and pre-schoolers, and their mothers, are apparent as she celebrates the growth of PALS and its outreach.  We have just enrolled our 98th child, and as of February 2, 2009, have expanded to 7 classes.   Debi’s recent report to our Staff Parish committee concluded with the statement, “I love my job and am every day grateful that God has called me back to this ministry.”

Looking back on twenty-five years of PALS, it is humbling to think of the number of children we have had the privilege to hold, even for a brief time.  We cherish the friendships and fellowship we have shared with the mothers of those children, as well. We pray that we have been the hands of Christ to them, touching their lives in ways both large and small.  We know that they have changed our lives in a big way. It is our fervent prayer that PALS will continue to grow, reaching out to a new generation of children and continue on, “Changing Lives for Jesus Christ.

– by Carol Payne & Pam Ferguson, 2 of the first 5 PALS mothers

The five original moms are: Carol Payne, Pam Ferguson, Carolyn Embry, Jean Garner and Sharon Craven.

Since celebrating our 25th year, we have grown to 150 children.

  • Fall 2012 we added a kindergarten class, our eighth class.
  • 2014, we added our ninth class, for homeschooled children, a one-day-a-week class on Wednesdays.
  • Fall 2017, we added Tuesdays to our schedule in several preschool classes.
  • January 2019, we added a 10th room, a Baby Room, for crawling babies.
  • In 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we went down to 7 rooms: Babies; Two-year-olds; Three A; Three B; PreK A; PreK B; and Kindergarten.  
  • Fall 2021 we reopened the Homeschool Gathering.