Sonoma’s Sunshine School celebrates its 40th anniversary

Sunshine School will celebrate its 40th year of serving families with preschoolers in Sonoma on April 28. The preschool, located at 109 Patten St., is an Outreach Ministry Program of Sonoma United Methodist Church.

In 1977, the Sonoma United Methodist Church Education Commission, composed of Darlene Fish, Jerry Hall and Sally Tuller, worked to organize a preschool at the church.

After months of planning – including clearing out a field of black berry bushes for a playground – Sunshine Nursery School opened its doors to children ages 2 to 6 years old in the fall of 1978. Deborah Pucillo was Sunshine School’s first director and she co-taught with Janet Evans.

The school began its part-time program with 20 children, and two teachers in one classroom. By 1986, the school’s enrollment had grown to 175 children, 14 employees and used four classrooms.

Fast forward to 2019, Sunshine School, under the leadership of Mary O’Hern, is still going strong. The school now has several students enrolled whose parents attended Sunshine themselves as children.

The school operates year round from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and there is a wait list for each age group.

“We are extremely grateful to Darlene, Jerry, Sally and Sonoma United Methodist Church Congregation for their foresight with establishing Sunshine School 40 years ago,” said O’Hern. “We intend to continue being a great learning and fun place for little ones.”

On Sunday, April 28, from noon to 4 p.m. on the grounds of Sonoma United Methodist Church, the school will celebrate its 40th anniversary and honor Deborah Pucillo who will retire at the end of this school year after 40 years with the preschool. There will be barbecued tri-tip, Popo the clown, a photo booth, a jump house and guests are asked to bring a dish to share.

Sunshine alumnus, current Sunshine families, retired Sunshine teachers and interested community members are all invited.

Call Sunshine School 996-2702 for more information.

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