After 42 years at The Children’s Center of First Community Church, it’s going to be difficult to fill retiring director Ouida Johnson’s shoes: After all, she’s only the second director the school has had since it was established in 1952.

“We now have children of children here,” she says.

Johnson began her career with The Children’s Center in 1957 as a teacher. She taught for 14 years before being named director.

“Our goal is to create a happy, loving atmosphere for little children,” Johnson says, “a place where they can ask questions, experience God’s world and be motivated to the joy of learning.”

Johnson says she has seen a definite change in children over the years.

“We have tried to meet these changes by adapting our programs. For example, children have become far more sedentary as a result of computers and television. We have seen a definite reduction in motor skills development.”

To combat this problem, Johnson added a Body Rhythmics program to the curriculum.

Despite the changes, some things remain the same. Kids still want to play and have fun, and Johnson believes children should be allowed to be children.

“Our approach to learning is through play,” she says. “It is through play that children learn to try new things, to take turns, and to share.”

The Children’s Center will hold a May 16 reception for alumni and friends to honor Johnson. For details about the reception, call 214-327-0905.