Citizen Spotlight: “Miss Darla” Sims

Miss Darla keeps on smilin’ (photo S Jason Cole).

Darla Sims is a life-long resident of Excelsior Springs. Most folks know her as “Miss Darla,” the loving leader at Treehouse Preschool, housed at the First United Methodist Church of Excelsior Springs. For generations, Miss Darla has been setting the youth of Excelsior Springs on a path toward success. Her loving spirit and genuine care for “her kids” has touched the lives of generations of Excelsiorites. She said it has always been her life’s goal to work with children in one way or another. “I’ve always been very interested in working with kiddos, and my biggest dream was to stay home and be a full-time mom. And, that’s what I did until my girls got into big school, and then I started in with the preschool,” she said. Miss Darla helped establish Treehouse Preschool more than 30 years ago in ‘the old Methodist Church downtown,” and says she’s seen a lot of changes over the years. “Pastors and people come and go, but what remains is the fond memories of my kids,” she said with a smile.

A series of health issues for both her and her husband forced Miss Darla to make the difficult decision to retire from one of Excelsior Springs’ top preschool programs. “It’s been the hardest decision, and most heartbreaking decision I’ve ever had to make. I just cannot believe that this is happening, because it’s 32 years of my life that I’m saying goodbye to,” she said with tears welling in her eyes.  Diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, she faced a frightening health dilemma but has since battled through the first series of treatments with the help and support of her family, friends, and church. “I haven’t had to cook a meal this whole time!,” she laughed.

A t-shirt fundraiser for Miss Darla has brought in more than $9,000 so far! Click on the image to see the campaign.

A t-shirt fundraiser started by members of the Treehouse staff has garnered nearly $9,000 to help offset the cost of some of Miss Darla’s medical expenses. “I didn’t know they were doing (the fundraiser) and it’s just blown me away, it’s very humbling and I appreciate it more than they’ll ever know,” said Miss Darla. As someone who naturally gives to others, Miss Darla said it’s sometimes hard for her to accept the generosity of others without feeling some guilt, but she’s found comfort in the words of her pastor Art Endsley, of Orrick Christian Church. “(Art) told me to think about the joy I feel when giving to others and reminded me to not take the joy of giving away from them… and I can’t tell you what a blessing it all is,” she said.

Miss Jenna and Miss Darla love to have fun and have a tradition of coming up with coordinating Halloween costumes.

Miss Darla said that as difficult as the decision to retire has been she knows she is leaving the preschool program in very capable hands. Jenna Olcott who has been the assistant director for Treehouse Preschool for the past eight years will be stepping up to the director’s role and substitute teacher, Megan Rosenbloom has been hired as the assistant director. Miss Darla said it was a full-circle moment when she learned Megan was hired because Megan started as a student at Treehouse Preschool under Miss Darla’s care. “Jenna will do fabulous. She’s got a lot of fun ideas and is so talented it’s unreal. And, Megan is texting me saying ‘I hope I make you proud’ which to me, after having her and then her kids, just means the world,” Miss Darla said. 

Miss Darla said she’s proud of all of ‘her kids,’ no matter what they’ve gone on to do, whether they’re a lawyer, a construction worker, or even a Dallas Cowboy’s Cheerleader. She’s thankful for the support that Excelsior Springs has shown to her, her entire life. “It’s a very good community. I feel very safe here, and I and I really feel very loved here, we live in a pretty cool town,” she said. Miss Darla gives thanks for her successful career and feels that her passion to work with children has been beyond what she could have even dreamed.  “I just really have to give God all the glory… I could be in a room with 60 kids, and I’d be fine. I think that that’s just the gift that was given to me by God and I felt like I needed to use that. I just hope that He was happy with the job I did,” she said.

Learn more about the fundraiser for Miss Darla here.

Learn more about Treehouse Preschool here.

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2 thoughts on “Citizen Spotlight: “Miss Darla” Sims”

  1. Miss Darla is the most beautiful person inside and out. 15 years after my kids left her class she still recognizes them and opens with a huge hug. And my boys do the same with a smile and a hug for her. They moved her very much.

  2. Miss Darla is the most beautiful person inside and out. 15 years after my kids left her class she still recognizes them and opens with a huge hug. And my boys do the same with a smile and a hug for her. They loved her very much.

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