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Child educator takes talents to area retirement home

Voth moves on from 35-year career as preschool teacher

Staff writer

It’s not very often someone gets to do what they love and make a living off it.

Gayle Voth is an exception.

She’s been owner, director, and teacher at Kinder Haus preschool in Goessel over the last 35 years, but currently she is in the process of selling her business to move on to another profession she has grown to love, too.

Recently Voth became the activities director at Bethesda Home in Goessel, and though she is excited about her knew profession, she is more enthusiastic about another recent development in her life.

“I get to be a grandma,” she said, referring to her two granddaughters that were born about nine and half months ago. “I don’t want to use the word ‘awesome’ because it’s so overused, but it really is a wonderful feeling.”

As a grandma, Voth feels free to spoil her granddaughters where she couldn’t spoil Kinder Haus students because “that’s just what grandmas do.”

With three and a half decades of commitment to childcare and education, she has started to see some second-generation students, which also prompted her “retirement” from the profession.

“I figured I better get out before I see the third generation too,” she said.

Her new profession at Bethesda didn’t come all at once.

“When our family business Ratzlaff Draperies drastically downsized, I took on a job working in activities at Bethesda Home,” she said. “Now as the activities director, I have a lot more hours there, and it gets hectic having two jobs where I am in charge, not to mention wanting to spend time with my grandbabies.”

When Voth makes her final transition to Bethesda, she’ll still be doing what she loves: educating.

One of Voth’s former preschool students Krista Graber currently sends her daughter to Kinder Haus.

“It just seems special to be able to send my daughter to the same teacher I went to,” Graber said. “Gayle always has such creativity and energy for the kids. She’s got a high ability to connect with them.”

Voth started Kinder Haus in the fall of 1978. She was 22 and right out of college, having just received a two-year degree in social work.

She had just the right combination of education and experience to open a preschool in the state of Kansas.

Starting in 1995, she went on to get another degree in early childhood education, but it wasn’t easy.

“I plugged away at a four-year degree for 10 years,” she said. “Our kids were growing up at the time and some people asked me why I didn’t just go to school full-time.”

To do that, Voth said she would have had to sacrifice family time or sell Kinder Haus, which was something she was not prepared to do.

“I’ve always thought Goessel needed a good community preschool,” she said. “It’s not something I was ever going to get rich off of, but it was a passion.

“Children need guidelines and boundaries. It shows them you care, and in the end it helps them succeed in their development, education, and socialization.”

Voth recalled a couple favorite moments in her early years at Kinder Haus one of which a little girl came up to her and said something in a very adult way, “I know I haven’t paid my check yet. Can I still have snack?”

Another involved a girl who had put her hand in an aquarium.

“When I asked her what she was doing with her hand in there, she said ‘I don’t know. It just fell in there.’ It was hard not to laugh.”

Though she is happy for her career at Bethesda, Voth said there’s no doubt she will miss all those “little moments with the children when they look up and smile as they hug your leg, or when they’re proud after learning to write a new letter in their name.”

Last modified Feb. 18, 2015

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