Jenny Mercado Reynolds Plants Seeds That Shape Lives Forever.

by | Jan 2024

THE MORNING sun spotlights the American flag as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then join hands and pray. Their bowed heads pop up like toast as the young people anticipate circle time. This special time for listening and sharing draws them closer than a favorite toy, forging friendships and bonds they don’t yet understand. The letter of the week, shapes, colors, and numbers create a patchwork of preschool learning that covers them when they leave this space but not these memories. These are the 18-month-old to five-year-old children at Jenny Mercado Reynolds’ Joyful Noise child care in Tullahoma. 

Reynolds’ journey into the hearts of her child care students and their families is rooted in her experiences with children, from her time in Montessori classrooms growing up and caring for her brother, 11 years younger than her. Two jobs as a nanny when she was in her 20s cemented her desire to help shape the lives of children. 

“I always felt l could relate to them. I wanted to hold and sing to them and read to them, and it grew from there,” said Reynolds. 

That growth occurred in the Chicago area, and put down permanent roots when she married her husband, Brian. They married there with everything packed and loaded for a move the following day to Tullahoma. There was a culture shock and adjustment period because she’d left behind all her friends and family and access to more metropolitan shopping. But she didn’t leave behind her love of caring for children, and a job with Linda Titus at Mrs. Linda’s Day Care proved to be a blessing. 

“I worked for her for 10 years and saw so many people come and go. But I was always taught my parents’ work ethic, and I stayed. She just saw something in me and was thankful. She was really good to me, and I learned so much from her,” Reynolds said. “That’s how a lot of people got to know me in this area because I really didn’t know anybody.” 

Titus encouraged Reynolds, passing along the business side of child care, believing she should open her own facility one day. When Titus retired, it was time to make a decision. 

She said, “We decided if everything would line up, this is going to be a God thing, and it did.” 

She converted two rooms in her home with the help of her husband and his father. She wanted a unique name for the child care center, skipping the pattern of naming it after herself. Constantly turning over ideas in her mind, even when busy with other things, she scored with Joyful Noise while attending a basketball game. 

“I looked up, and there’s a banner that said, ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’ I liked that. Kids are just joyful; they make me happy. And they’re noisy. This was a God thing, and I want to make sure that I always remember that,” she shared. 

She remembers it daily as she creates a nurturing and safe environment where children feel valued, understood, and loved. Their stability and emotional well-being are her priority. Relationships with the children and their families create a circle of reciprocating support. 

“It makes me stop and take it all in and say, ‘This is why you’re here.’ It’s the love you have for their innocence, their love for life, and how one minute they’re fighting over a toy, and the next minute they’re holding hands. They’re already best friends again, and they’ll do that 10 times today,” said Reynolds. 

Some days, you wonder who’s teaching who. 

She said, “I just love it because they see the world so differently than us, and sometimes when I feel like I’m making a big issue of something, it reminds me I’m sweating the small stuff. You gotta let that go. It makes me think of little things that my kids do and say. They teach us a lot.” 

It comes full circle because Reynolds’ teaching leaves a lasting impression on the children and their families, especially her annual Easter tradition of washing the children’s feet and allowing them to wash hers. 

Tabitha Sehorne saw Jenny’s influence in action. 

“The first year I taught kindergarten for Tullahoma City Schools, I had some students that I absolutely had to know where they went to preschool because that is where I wanted my children to go if and when I had children,” said Tabitha. “Mrs. Jenny Reynolds is the salt of the earth. My girls learned so much from her academically, but the integrity, goodness, love for others, and Christ-likeness that she poured into them is unmatched. She will never know the impact she has had on my life, the lives of my children and so many others, and our community. She is an angel on this earth.” 

Bonnie Levi’s son, Carter, was Reynolds’ student. “As a parent, it was such a relief and answer to prayer when we found Joyful Noise. We could not have dreamed of a better situation than what we found with Jenny and her family at Joyful Noise,” said Bonnie. “The lessons and strong moral convictions she has as a teacher have impacted Carter far beyond his time there and will continue to serve him as he grows and matures.” 

Carter’s grandmother, Gigi Robison, said, “She is a ‘force of nature’ in the most positive way imaginable, passionate about teaching her kids to care about others. Mrs. Jenny is very loving, but she is not a pushover. Her kids are taught respect and given healthy boundaries. Her kids are prepared to enter the next steps of life and school when they sadly leave their years at Joyful Noise.” 

Joyful Noise child care is a community within a larger community preparing tomorrow’s citizens to look and see their neighbor, offer a helping hand, and share a seat on the rollercoaster ride of life. And proudly watching as they do is their Mrs. Jenny nodding and smiling. “It’s a God thing.” GN 

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