Getting To Know… Susan Hotchkiss
It takes a village to run a church, especially one as active as Johns Creek United Methodist Church. The reason it runs so smoothly is because of our dedicated staff, so we wanted to help you get to know them a little better
A Prayer For Susan
Caring God. We are so honored to welcome Susan into our preschool family. We are grateful to receive such a caring soul who understands the needs of children and their families. Guide her as she continues to work towards improving our preschool ministry. We pray that her strength never fades (even in the carpool line) and the support she receives is endless. Amen.
Can you tell us a little about your family?
I have 3 children: Robby is 31 and a hybrid specialist at Porsche, Garrett is 30 and is in the auto collision industry, and Stacy is 23 and is currently interning with the Falcons in their digital media department. I also have 2 daughters from my husband’s first marriage, Shelby and Stephanie. Shelby is 31 and specializes in making 3D models for stadiums and large venues and Stephanie is 25 and works in LA editing movie trailers. I have no grandchildren yet, and none on the horizon, so I plan to spend plenty of time with the babies in PMO!!! I am married to my best friend, “Hotch” or John Hotchkiss . He is an electrical engineer who (gulp!) went to my arch rival school, Georgia Tech. I went to UGA, like Stacey & Stephanie, and actually marched in the Redcoat Band! You could say I bleed Red & Black. In fact, I am trying to get the Teacher Handbook to address the inappropriateness of wearing colors like orange and blue together, but I think Brandon has a problem with that. 😊
Please tell us how you were led to choose early childhood christian education as a vocation.
I actually started out in Personal Management. When I had children, my life career goals just changed. I decided to stay home with them until they were “older” and they just never seemed to get old enough for me to want to leave them for a full time career! I started teaching part time at Mt. Pisgah and fell in love with a new profession that was also aligned with my desire to be home with the children at the same time. After years of teaching I found myself naturally gravitating towards leadership roles and positions. By the time Stacey was 2, I was the Preschool Director of my first preschool! Even though I stepped away from it for a few years in an effort to prepare financially for college for my kids, I never found anything that was more satisfying from a career perspective than working with the most compassionate, creative and generous group of people I have ever known, preschool teachers! So preschool feels like home to me!
What do you like to do in your spare time.
During the week, Hotch and I help lead a small group from our church and attend another one as well. We love offering support to young parents and encouraging them through prayer and just being present for them. The weekends are all about football!! We go to as many games as we can: UGA, GA Tech, if we must 😊, and Falcons, of course. I play ALTA (tennis) as much as possible. Hotch and I are also very active in the Walk to Emmaus community (NGWTE). I also love to watch Chopped and have fun getting creative in the kitchen. I am not great at following recipes….I like to create my own version of Chopped. Thankfully, Hotch is adventurous and easy to please so this works out well!
Before coming to Johns Creek UMC you spent more than ten years at Dunwoody UMC’s precschool. Share with us the excellent characteristics of that program that you would like to bring to the Johns Creek’s program.
I have been immeasurably blessed to work at Dunwoody 2 different times and have learned what genuine high quality early education is all about. I learned that the most important factors that impact the quality of the preschool experience for everyoneare student-teacher ratios in the classroom, teacher training & experience, and embracing the community, especially families that come to you and need your understanding and compassion the most. Without experienced and passionate teachers, it is hard to have a thriving preschool program. I am thankful to have worked in two churches that have such wonderful teachers that create such a family and loving environment for our families. I will say that is what impresses me the most about the Johns Creek UMC environment. The building is beautiful and we have lots of exciting things to offer our children from an educational standpoint, but the HEART of the school is what makes teachers, parents and children want to come back. It is this HEART that makes it hard for them to leave! My goals are to continue to encourage this kind of teaching from the heart. I think this is what best represents the mission of the church. Good teachers teach but great teachers also REACH. That is what we are called to do when it comes down to it. We are here to make a difference in the big and little things. Preschool teachers specialize in little things and make a BIG, lasting impact in the lives of young families. Our ultimate goal is that when children leave Johns Creek UMC preschool, they will take with them a love of learning and a foundation of faith, knowing they are loved unconditionally by God. Additionally, I have to say that I have known of churches and schools where the relationship resembled “silos” and the relationship was in name only. I have been lucky enough to experience the benefit of what happens when the church and the school work and serve in unity with each other. I always remind teachers and parents that the preschool is not separate, but in fact, part of the church. I value this relationship and the result is a broad and more comprehensive outreach to our families. Our mission is great and we can only accomplish it together!
Share something with us about you that not many people know.
I played the Clarinet in the concert band of Georgia and actually played at the Fox theatre! It was an amazing experience. I also marched in the Redcoat band of UGA in the Sugar Bowl in 1982. The most interesting thing I think however, is that I have served in a prison ministry (KAIROS) and have served and discipled incarcerated women in a maximum security prison. It was one of the most impactful and unforgettable experiences I have ever had. I went in thinking I had nothing in common with them and I questioned “MY” ability to relate to them or make any difference. God showed me God’s broken children, not the hardened criminals I had imagined. It was then I realized it wasn’t what “I” was bringing that mattered, It was what GOD was bringing through me that mattered. I just had to say yes to His call!
How have your first few weeks at Johns Creek been?
It’s been like drinking water out of a firehose! It has been intense and overwhelming at times. At the end of the day, I am refreshed and know in my heart that this is where God intended me to be. There are days when I find myself wondering why my face hurts, and then I realize I haven’t smiled this much in a long time! Children make me smile, I can’t help it! I have to say I am so grateful for the grace and support that has been shown to me by the teachers, the parents and the genuinely warm and caring church staff at JCUMC. On days when I wonder if I am enough, God reminds me I don’t have to be. That’s when I lean on my sweet JCUMC family. I also haven’t been this tired in a very long time, but I can say I look forward to what every day brings! (Even a carpool line that is NOT for the faint of heart! 😊) It is going to be a great adventure. Thank you letting me be part of it!!
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