About Us

Shadow Rock Preschool is an Experiential Learning Program created in 1974.
Our preschool accepts 2-year-olds through young 5-year-olds.


A Good Preschool

  1. Should help a child develop aspects of his or her personality, experience life away from family and promote self-reliance, independence and decision-making.
  2. Allows a child to function where he or she is developmentally, but at the same time, gently stimulates the next stage to maturity.
  3. Develops language and provides exposure to books, art, play materials, experiences and excursions not always available at home.
  4. Provides the setting for learning to get along with other people and to develop socially.
  5. Helps children learn how to handle their bodies effectively, to sharpen fine motor skills and to practice large motor skills.
  6. Provides the idea: a program geared directly to children’s abilities, flexible, with freedom as well as limits a place where the child is welcomed, planned for and loved.

This is Shadow Rock

Shadow Rock is a place where each child is unique and unrepeatable.



We believe:

  • That children learn by being in the midst of experience
  • In freedom and in limits and helping each child understand his or her role
  • In extending each child’s outlook past home, family and city
  • In developing a sense of independence and responsibility
  • Each child needs to know that what they do affects the world and what the world does affects each of them
  • That fostering inquiry, problem-solving and decision making leads to future school success
  • Play is a preschoolers’ mode of learning
  • That children construct reality based on prior learning

We are an anti-bias, inclusive school dedicated to promoting peaceful resolution of conflicts and children capable of making responsible, caring decisions.  We experience various world cultures throughout the year and each room promotes the:

 I Care Rules

We listen to each other

Hands are for helping, not hurting

We use nice words

We care about each others’ feelings

We are responsible for what we say and do

We’ll find a way that you can play


Although Shadow Rock Preschool and Kids’ Day Out is incorporated as part of Shadow Rock Church, United Church of Christ, no religious instruction is included in our preschool curriculum.  For more information about the church, visit their website at shadowrockucc.org.






Our History:

Eileen Hoard (in the middle),was our founding director in 1973.  It was her vision and expertise that formed our philosophies and abounding love of children.   Before that she helped establish Cross Roads Preschool.  Eileen, a story teller and artist, shared her expertise and creativity with the school until her retirement.  She recently published her second book, Everyone’s a Storyteller.

Marilyn Rampley (on the left), our second director, became involved with Shadow Rock Preschool as the Vice-Chair and then Chair of the Preschool Board.  She began teaching in 1976 at Shepherd of the Valley (our first home before Shadow Rock had a building), and then moved to the new and current campus.  She began as co-director with Eileen Hoard in 1980 and retired in 2011.

Sharon Torrella (on the right), was first a Shadow Rock Preschool mom and then joined the teaching staff in 1977.  Her educational background includes a degree in elementary education from Indiana University, graduate work in Early Childhood studies, teaching in the public schools.  She has done the planning for KDO, and creating the Young Fives program at Shadow Rock.  She was co-director with Marilyn Rampley from 1995 until Marilyn’s retirement in 2011 and was our director until June, 2013, when she retired.

Sharon Torella came back as our Director 2016.  She has always said Shadow Rock is in her heart.  She has just retired for a second time in July 2018. Magda Taglienti started as our new director July 1, 2019.

Teaching Staff

Each group of 16-20 children has two teachers (three in our two year old classrooms) who plan and carry out daily activities as a team. We prefer that the lead teacher have a teaching degree; assistants may or may not hold degrees. Many of our teachers are CDA certified and all have been fingerprinted and checked as required by our licensing through the State of Arizona.

Our basic concern in hiring teachers is that they are open to our teaching style, love children, and are willing to put in the long hours needed to make the Shadow Rock Preschool “magic” happen.


The Preschool Board

The school operates under a volunteer Preschool Board, which is made up of concerned and loving parents of our students. They meet monthly to set tuition and class offerings, oversee playground care and inventories, help conduct registration, and assist the Director as needed. In addition, the Board sponsors various events through the year. Some are fund-raisers, such as the Spring Auction and various sales. Others, such as the Fall Carnival and the Ice Cream Social, are fun-raisers. The current board is working hard to meld the two into family events that are both fun and raise money to help keep tuition low. Your continued support is very much appreciated.


Our Academics

Well…it depends on what you mean by “academic”.  Do we ask children to work with pencils in workbooks, practice penmanship, and memorize facts? Absolutely not!  Are children learning, are they challenged to think and question, do they practice hands-on discovery every day? Yes!  In a typical week the following cognitive (using the mind to think) activities might be observed:

In the twos, children are:

  • in the hall finding their own jacket, placing it in their cubbie, which is marked with their printed name.
  • discussing which color chair is for the teachers and which is for them.
  • talking about what came next after storytime, after pick-up time, before outside time.
  • making rockets piece-by-piece, following directions and then counting to ten for them to blast-off.
  • walking backwards, sitting beside the teacher, on the rug, in the rocket ship, under the climber.
  • moving like a frog, a penguin, a fish, a bunny, a bird.
  • singing the “Good Morning Song” and “Here We Are Together”, naming everyone in their class.
  • guessing what will happen next in the story.
  • using words to ask for help, tell a friend what they want, and share.

In the threes, children are:

  • exploring gravity with cars dipped in paint racing down a tilted cookie sheet.
  • discussing how airplanes stay in the air. (Even WE don’t understand that.)
  • counting constantly! (counting kids, sorting and counting bears, graphing kinds of pets)
  • being read to with the teacher moving her hand from left to right.
  • exploring books on their own—and turning pages correctly.
  • cooking, measuring, reading a rebus recipe, building with recyclables, manipulating magnets, singing.
  • discussing a tornado tube and how it is like water going down a drain.
  • recognizing children’s names (their own and others) on the Helper Chart
  • singing about the days of the week and naming what today is.
  • exploring mixing colors of paint (red and yellow) and hues made by adding white and black.
  • finding their own name at the snack table, or looking for a matching shape or color card.
  • placing cards, counting how many holes they had filled and how many were left.
  • counting the children present and subtracting that from the “magic number” (their class total) to figure out how many children are not there.
  • reviewing a story, what happened first, next, last, how else might it have ended.
  • verbalizing feelings and working through problems to find a mutually acceptable solution.
  • adding their name to art work.
  • predicting what happens to ice when it is set out in the room. How long will this take?
  • problem-solving about how to create a snow-person with ice shavings.
  • spreading cream cheese with a stick and arranging chocolate chips to form a design.
  • sorting fruit, bears, frogs, butterflies, colored strips of paper, soft things from hard things.
  • exploring properties of glue while gluing all kinds of things.
  • answering the question, “What letters do I need to write to put your name on this paper?”
  • responding to the direction, “You may use four snowflakes (or whatever) on your picture.” Also, to the * instruction, “You may pick three friends to take in for snack.”
  • predicting what will happen when a sweet potato is placed in a container of water.

In the fours and fives, children are:

  • discovering how blubber insulates by packing their own hand in Crisco and inserting it in cold water.
  • planting, touching worms, playing with a “feely bag”. (Identifying items by how they feel, using words to describe the item so others can also guess what it is.)
  • planting celery in colored water, placing an egg in vinegar, placing a pine cone in water—always asking first for predictions and thenchecking on the results. (This is elemental science!)
  • talking about germs and why we wash our hands and cover our mouths when we sneeze.
  • walking through various substances with their feet and also imagining that they are walking through some “way-out” substances.
  • estimating how many bears are in a jar, then counting and graphing them by color.
  • engaging in classroom voting, who has the most, who has the least?
  • patterning, patterning, patterning—with objects, art, words. (basic to reading)
  • estimating and then counting how many steps it takes to reach the drinking fountain.
  • laying down end-to-end to measure a large structure.
  • sorting and graphing kinds and colors of apples and cutting colored paper to make paper chains.
  • using “magic water” on purple paper to observe and guess why and what happens.
  • hearing and recognizing themselves by their initials and lining up by the month of their birthday.
  • beginning to write first and last names on artwork when requested.
  • playing cashier and counting money. (practicing, that is)
  • naming authors and illustrators and asking the teachers who did what if they forget to tell.
  • guessing what animals live where there is snow.
  • explaining how to prepare for company—what all is involved and needed.
  • playing Color/Shape Bingo verbally only (not looking at the cards, just naming a red triangle, etc).
  • discovering that salt on a string will stick to ice, even pick up the ice, and questioning why.
  • cutting a snowflake pattern, first folding, planning, predicting how it will look.
  • adding one link each day to a paper chain to keep track of how long we’ve been in school, and then making a predictable pattern each month, and finally discovering that patterns can be random.
  • composing stories by themselves and as a group, illustrating their own books, writing a story to accompany an illustration.
  • making up silly songs.
  • picking questions from a jar to answer in front of the group.
  • explaining how items are the same and how they are different.
  • naming children as someone’s son or daughter, or as Miss or Mr. Last Name, by initials, by addresses, by phone numbers.

This is a short list that could go on and on.



It’s the BEST KIND of “academic”


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