On May 19, the congregation at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Arlington gathered after the Sunday service to thank "Ms. Cheryl" for her 20-plus years as a preschool teacher.
Lovgreen is known for her patience, her way with children and for making learning fun -- and for her fancy tea parties, said the church leaders, parents, grandparents and former students who came to wish her well.
Lovgreen, 64, grew up in the church, she said. She lives in the Arlington area with her husband, Marvin. They were high-school sweethearts and graduated together from Arlington High School in 1967.
She started working as a preschool teacher more than 20 years ago after Marvin was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She'd stayed home to raise their four children. He couldn't work anymore. She figured it was her turn.
Lovgreen was great at organizing "fun little trips," said Ernie Chamberlin, a former student who's now a sophomore at Arlington High School. She took his class to places such as Cascade Valley Hospital and the Arlington Pizza Factory to learn about careers, he said.
"I just remember her being a very upbeat person, just very positive about everything," he said. "She always tried to make it the best for all of her students."
Fifth-grader Hannah Ewing remembers Lovgreen's birthday celebrations for her students. Each kid could bring in treats. On Hannah's birthday one year, she got to wear a little crown.
"It was paper, and it was sparkly," she said.
Lovgreen's classes also celebrated themed days where kids could dress accordingly, like a Western wear day, said Hannah's mother, Heidi Ewing.
Once, they had a "beach party" where Lovgreen turned up the room's thermometer and all the kids wore their swimsuits and slid down a slide.
Lisa Willis' youngest son Jake Willis, 6, graduated from Lovgreen's class last year.
"She's just really good with the kids, very patient, loving," Willis said. "They learn a lot of things, and they learn to become good little independent students."
As an employee, Lovgreen always was punctual and prepared, the Rev. Scott Summers said. She was a "calming presence" for the school's families, no matter what else was happening in their lives, he said.
Elaine Lilgreen has been a member of the church since the late 1950s. She's known Lovgreen a long time.
"She's wonderful. She has the patience of Job," Lilgreen said. "She has stamina. She's absolutely nice. She's plain just a nice person, and she relates to children."
Lovgreen never got frustrated, even when a child misbehaved, Lilgreen said. She always was dedicated to her family, too.
"She's something God created that has all the abilities to work with children and to be a wonderful neighbor," Lilgreen said.
Lovgreen loved meeting all the families over the years and connecting with them, she said. She always tried to teach the kids about Christianity in ways they could understand. She taught them to respect the environment and recycle, she said. She loved seeing them head off to kindergarten, or what she calls "the big school."
In her classes, the kids would sing songs and act out skits inspired by scripture. They'd pray before they ate. They'd practice sign language.
"They're just learning," she said. "They're learning so much, and they're just on their way forward. It's just a fun little age. They can just absorb so much. They've got character."
After retiring, Lovgreen plans to spend more time with her husband and work on her to-do list. The couple might travel a little, too, but they'll mostly "hunker down here at home and get things done and have fun," she said.
"We have a little mini farm," she said. "We have some critters here, love to garden, love to can. I'm not going to be bored."
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Our Saviour's
Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Arlington serves a congregation of about 250. The church at 615 E. Highland Drive is more than 120 years old and operates a daycare and preschool.
For more information, call 360-435-8921 or email email@example.com.
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