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What Climbing Tree Means - A Teacher's Love Letter to Our School

Updated: Apr 1


I worked at the same preschool for 13 years. It was my home, my family, and I loved every minute of it. Then, a position at St. Mark’s opened up, and they wanted me! It was like being called up to the big leagues. Everyone knows St. Mark’s reputation for being a high quality preschool, but it’s more well known for the community they’ve cultivated. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. I am now in my second year of teaching at St. Mark’s (with COVID stealing precious months), and I cannot even begin to describe just how special this school is.


The first thing I noticed was how many families stuck around at drop off, to chat and interact with other families. It was like a social hour for the parents. The sense of community is amazing. My next noteworthy observation was how intentional every decision made by staff was. The children’s growth and development guides even the smallest of choices. As my first year progressed, it became obvious how creative and inventive the teachers at St. Mark’s are. I felt inspired to push myself and expand my own lesson plans; Without a doubt, I have grown as a teacher after having such amazing mentors at St. Mark’s.


I know I've left out all of those quality preschool markers that families look for in a preschool. Our school is play based, with low ratios. Our teachers are warm and loving. Each teacher tailors their curriculum toward their current students, understanding that children learn better when they are interested and engaged. We follow the children's lead and guide them through discovery. Those things are all vital and important, but really, can be found in many great early education centers in Tucson. What really sticks out at St. Mark's is the community. It really and truly is a special place. St. Mark’s has easily become my new home and family, and I love being a part of their community.


I am so inspired by the new school we are building, the Climbing Tree Community School. I think it speaks volumes that families were so sad to hear of our school closing that they banded together to save it. I look forward to this next adventure, of creating the same great community in a new space. I am so thankful for St. Mark’s, and I look forward to being a founding member of the Climbing Tree Community School.


~Kerri Gardner, Climbing Tree Community School Teacher


We still need your help as we work toward opening our new school...please donate what you can, there is no amount too big or too small!




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