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St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church donates school inventory to Climbing Tree Community School

TUCSON, AZ: When the newly formed Climbing Tree Community School launches in the fall with the director, teachers, staff and students of St. Mark’s Preschool & Kindergarten, the classrooms and cupboards will be filled with all of the school supplies, furniture, gymnastics, playground and sports equipment, and refrigerators used by the school, which will close at the end of this month. Even the logo will go with the new school.



“We want to support this new school, which has deep roots with St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church,” said Diane Shifflett, chair of the Preschool Transition Team (PTT), a group of church members tasked with closing the church’s 55-year-old school program.

John Schaibley, president of the Climbing Tree Community School board, asked the church to donate all of the classroom supplies, furniture and equipment to the new school after the church members offered Climbing Tree Community School the right-of-first-refusal. The transition team agreed to donate the supplies, and teachers identified the equipment and materials they would like to take to their new school.

“I want to thank St. Mark's church for the years of service operating St. Mark's Preschool and Kindergarten. This school not only taught my daughters so much, but also has been an anchor for my family to the Tucson community, and I am forever grateful for my family's time there,” said Schaibley in an email to Shifflett. “We are very grateful that you have expressed your intent to help us succeed as a new school, and this donation is a wonderful expression of your dedication to the St. Mark’s Preschool and Kindergarten families and teachers who will build the new school.”

April Turner is the director of St. Mark’s Preschool & Kindergarten, and will become the director of the Climbing Tree Community School in July. She said she is grateful for the support from the church members for donating the classroom materials. Turner said the donation will “help further our mission of providing high quality education to Tucson’s children.”

St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church formed the Preschool & Kindergarten in 1966, when integrated early childhood education was not offered in the public schools. Climbing Tree Community School was formed in January 2021 by a group of dedicated parents and Turner with the hope of carrying on the legacy and community of educators and learners. The Climbing Tree Community School will open on the campus of Blenman Elementary School in August 2021.

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