New director counts Small Blessings |

New director counts Small Blessings

Teri Vance

Taking the helm of Small Blessings Preschool is a big deal for new director Cassidy Russell.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m so excited to spread my love for early childhood education.”

Russell, 30, moved to Carson City about a decade ago after marrying her husband, Tim, a capital city native.

She began her career teaching early childhood special education in Douglas County and has taught special-education preschool in Carson City for the past seven years.

“I’ve just always loved little kids and their excitement for learning,” Russell said. “Those initial years of development are so important to get kids excited for school.”

She plans to bring that enthusiasm for learning, along with her professional skills to her job, which begins in July, as director of the preschool.

She will replace Brenda Keller, who recently retired after serving as director since the preschool’s inception in 1992.

“Brenda built this program up,” said Heather Turner, who has served on the board of directors for five years. “And Cassidy is just going to be phenomenal. She is young and energetic and has a lot of credentials.”

Russell plans to implement the Nevada Common Core Standards to align the preschool with public schools, as well as a five-day program to supplement kindergarten.

Her other goal, she said, is to more closely associate the preschool with the First United Methodist Church.

“We want to work with the curriculum being taught in Sunday School,” she said. “Parents will know what their child is learning and reinforce that at home.”

Russell said everyone is welcome at the preschool, but Christian values will be taught along with academic curriculum.

The preschool is part of the First United Methodist Church, Nevada’s oldest congregation, which was originally organized as the First Methodist Episcopal Church in 1859.

Several years later, in 1867, they moved into the building at Musser and Division streets – constructed of sandstone quarried by prisoners at the Nevada State Prison – which continues to be the congregation’s home.

Cassidy met her husband at Alabama’s Auburn University, where they both competed on the swim team.

She is also a certified coach with Kaia F.I.T., a women’s fitness group, and will lead swimming classes for its triathlon training group.

She and her husband continue to be active, swimming and hiking with their two daughters Brynn, 5, and Larkin, 3.

She said she now considers Carson City her home.

“The small-town feel is what I love the most,” she said. “Everyone kind of knows each other still.”