Like a Disney movie, but without the singing, God’s Garden Child Development Center seems to be a wonderful place for kids to grow, learn and play.
The school provides pre-kindergarten for all kids ages 2 through 4. They offer two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They also provide enrichment activities for all children, even ones not enrolled in the school. The enrichment program is somewhat similar to an after-school activity in public schools, but in this program they offer such activities as cooking, Spanish and gymnastics.
“Anyone in the community can come,” said board president Debra Gutierrez, “they don’t have to be Presbyterian.”
The idea for God’s Garden came in the form of a Horizon Presbyterian Church member and progressed from there. They wanted to provide a wholesome starting point for children that was affordable and had long-term teachers.
One such teacher is Lissa Swazey, who has been at God’s Garden for 10 years. Before coming to the school she taught first grade and kindergarten at a public school. She said she loves teaching at God’s Garden because they can incorporate religion into their lessons.
“We can teach about Christ and God,” Swazey said, “we can bring in Easter and Christmas.”
She also said she likes that the students can choose what they want to learn. After the set lesson they have “High Scope,” where the students get to choose from different learning modules, like art and reading.
“It teaches them how to make a plan and follow through with it,” Swazey said.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of God’s Garden and they are having several activities to celebrate.
“We are going to party all year long,” said director Beth Wilson.
God’s Garden is hosting an open house pancake breakfast to celebrate their anniversary from 8 to 10 a.m. on Nov. 14. It’s $5 per family to get in and everyone in the community is invited.
Another interesting facet of God’s Garden is the immense amount of parent involvement.
“The parents are so involved, there’s a parent committee and on their own they provide support to each other, resources for each other and get together and do things out of the goodness of their hearts.” Gutierrez said.
This immense amount of parental involvement allows the school to hold several other opportunities, like Transportation Day.
Every February God’s Garden hosts Transportation Day, which is exactly what it sounds like – a day dedicated to transportation. Different people in the community provide every type of transportation a person can think of, including air crafts, blimps, police cars, fire trucks, etc.
Transportation Day has been around as long as God’s Garden, the first year they had around 1,000 people and now on average 3,000 people attend. It is free to get in and explore the different vehicles, but there are food vendors and different booths where items can be purchased.
“It’s something that we provide for the community,” Gutierrez said.
Information regarding registration, events and more can be found at the church’s Web site, www.horizonchurch.com.
Brandi Bell is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.