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Niles retiring from FUMC preschool after 30 years 

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Linda Niles is retiring as director of the First United Methodist Church preschool after 30 years.

Niles said her husband Tommy retired three years ago, and she felt it was time for her to retire also.

Her retirement will be effective the end of this month.

FUMC will hold a community celebration in honor of Niles on June 14 from 6-7 p.m.

Co-pastor Rev. Meghan Kelley said the church had planned to recognize and celebrate Niles after the annual preschool graduation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented this from being held. Kelley said they did not want the summer to end without Niles being honored.

The event will allow community members, formers students and family members to drive by where Niles will be seated to wish her well and drop off a card or gift in the basket if desired.

“Lots of lives have been touched by her,” Kelley said, commenting that hundreds of children have been a part of the preschool while Niles was there.

Kelley’s children also attended the preschool while Niles was director.

“She was just incredibly kind,” Kelley said.

She said Niles was also flexible and gracious.

“She has been exactly what our preschool has needed in the years she has been here,” Kelley said.

During her tenure, Niles has seen children and then their children come through the program.

“I have had several second-generation children,” Niles said. “… It’s really nice to see them grown up and see what they have accomplished.”

Niles has been the preschool director since 1993.

Her career at the preschool had begun in 1989 as a teacher.

“I just love it,” Niles said. “I love the children. I love being a part of their lives, watching them grow, grasp ideas, learn things.”

Niles said she had always wanted to be a teacher. Her career working with preschoolers began in Birmingham as substitute teacher at the half-day preschool her daughter attended.

When a teacher moved away, they asked her to take the class.

“I still had a two-year-old at home, and she said, there is a class for him, bring him,” Niles said. “It was a way for me to be mom, be a teacher and have my family time.”

After the family moved to Chilton County, Niles wanted to continue teaching preschool in a half-day setting, but there were no opportunities available. Five years later, Niles heard about FUMC opening a preschool with half-day instruction.

She was hired and “never had any ideas of leaving.”

Niles and her husband plans to do some traveling and mission trips, once the pandemic travel restrictions are lifted.

Niles said she also plans on volunteering with her church Liberty Hill Baptist and sewing. Niles said she enjoys embroidery.