Mountain View Lutheran Church is celebrating its Ahwatukee Preschool’s 33rd anniversary.

The preschool first opened its doors to the community in 1980, offering part-time programs for children ages 3 to 5.

It was the first preschool to open in the Ahwatukee area, according to director Diane Fitzsimons.

Being the only preschool in the Ahwatukee area at that time, Fitzsimons remembers lines of parents camping out the night before registration.

Fitzsimons has been part of the Ahwatukee Preschool experience for more than 25 years, having her son enrolled at the school, teaching there for six years, and later becoming the school’s director.

Although things have changed throughout the years, Fitzsimons said Ahwatukee Preschool hasn’t gone through any drastic changes, and currently has seven families who have past generations attending the school.

A family atmosphere

Ahwatukee resident Kathy Strom has had both her daughters enrolled at Ahwatukee Preschool since they first moved to the area 30 years ago.

When Strom and her family moved to Ahwatukee they would visit Mountain View Lutheran Church, 11002 S. 48th St., periodically.

She was approached by Pastor Don Schneider to be part of the church’s community, where she enrolled her daughters into the preschool program.

The legacy continued with her granddaughter, Alyssa, being enrolled into the preschool program.

Strom said she has enjoyed the warm atmosphere Ahwatukee Preschool offers its preschoolers, and feels the school does a fantastic job encompassing worship in everyday activities.

She also feels the preschool is the perfect introduction for children who will further their education.

Kari Green shares Strom’s sentiments regarding Ahwatukee Preschool, having been through the preschool program and her daughter, Emma, currently attending the school.

Green attended the Ahwatukee Preschool when she was 4 years old, when her family moved to the area, and her mother taught at the school for nearly 10 years.

She decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a teacher at the preschool in 2000, teaching for three years.

The decision to teach at the preschool was driven by the school’s strong philosophy with teaching the children how to conduct themselves in a classroom setting.

“It’s not only academics, but also learning how to be in school,” Green said. “That’s what I believed in for teaching, and obviously what I want Emma to learn.”

When Emma was old enough for preschool, Green had already made her decision on where she would attend.

“For us it was going to be the first time I left her somewhere, so we were definitely looking for some place that I was comfortable leaving her, and I knew she was going to feel secure, loved and safe,” Green said, adding that she knew Ahwatukee Preschool was a safe haven for her daughter and would promote a life-long experience of learning.

The students aren’t the only ones who get to learn.

Parents who drop off their children at the preschool learn separation from their child can be an OK experience, and sometimes letting go of the reins can be good.

Green believes the separation experience is a stepping stone for parents to cut the invincible umbilical cord to make that transition, yet she jokes the cord will only be cut just a tad bit when it comes to her daughter.

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