When Anne Potts and Susan Erdman first started working at Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten in the mid-60s, children from nearby clusters would ride their tricycles to attend class every morning at the pre-school.
Almost 40 years ago, Reston's first pre-school — popularly called LANK — was a world apart from the modern days of minivans and soccer moms. But while everything else might have changed, Potts and Erdman said, the children have pretty much remained the same.
“I don’t think kids ever change,” Erdman said. “From the time I started here, they’ve just been such a joy. They’ve been a part of me all my life.”
Both Potts and Erdman, who have served as LANK teachers since the early days and then as co-directors of LANK since 1979, are stepping down for retirement.
Last Saturday at the pre-school’s Spring Fest, children and their parents said goodbye to the longtime educators by dedicating a bench in their honor.
Potts and Erdman will be missed because of the wealth of experience they acquired from teaching three generation of young Restonians. That experience has helped make the pre-school a more comfortable educational environment for the children, said Molly Ascrizzi, president of LANK’s Board of Trustees.
“They know everything about this school,” Ascrizzi said. “They’re so experienced with the traumas and how hard it is to come to school for the first time and to leave their parents for the first time. They’re the calm in the storm.”
LANK’s philosophy of “putting children first” has been carried by Erdman and Potts throughout the decades. They have made LANK a pre-school where the emphasis is on making the children feel safe and comfortable, allowing the children to glean the tools needed to succeed in elementary school.
“They really believe that if children are given a caring and supportive environment, they will gain the social and motor skills they’ll need,” Ascrizzi said.
ORIGINALLY LOCATED at Lake Anne Plaza, over what is now the new Reston Community Center, LANK was part of the community’s original plan. Reston founder Robert E. Simon always intended that Reston families would have access to a local, low-cost pre-school facility.
When it opened its doors in 1965, only five students were enrolled. Now, having moved to its current home across from Tall Oaks Shopping Center in 1972, there are now children from 220 families who attend LANK’s morning or afternoon pre-school and kindergarten.
Next year LANK will mark its 40th anniversary. Through all the years, Potts and Erdman have helped the school grow and become what it is today.
“They have provided a safe and nurturing and caring learning environment over the years,” Ascrizzi said. “They’ve fostered a love of learning.”
To commemorate Potts’ and Erdman’s years of service to Reston children, parents, children and their colleagues dedicated a park bench to them last Saturday. Overlooking LANK’s sandbox, the bench will allow parents to sit and watch their children play outside at the school.