First Step preschool in Santa Monica will celebrate its 30th anniversary Wednesday, April 30th.

The 40-student school, located in a small house one block east of Main Street, was founded by Ina Sinsheimer, who remains at the helm as director.

In its three decades of service to the Santa Monica, Venice and West Los Angeles communities, First Step has established a “continuity of teachers” almost unprecedented in preschool education, school staff said.

Total tenure of the eight-person faculty is currently close to 60 years, including a number of teachers who have remained at the school for 15 years or more.

Sinsheimer said she has counseled numerous families through trying times and has shared in joyous celebrations with countless others.

“The joy of being a kid is that it is the only time in life where you are able to do what you want to do when you want to do it,” says Sinsheimer. “What’s important at this stage is to help the child develop their imagination to the fullest.

“There is one puzzle and five different ways to solve it; we are just here to guide them through this age of exploration.”

First Step teachers say they have established an “intimate” relationship with the community and have daily communication with students and their parents.

First Step has always been a developmental preschool, Sinsheimer said.

“We provide a place for them to play and interact, where they can choose and have the opportunity to take initiative,” she said of the students. “Our job here as teachers and role models is to make sure they’re safe and protected, but often it’s about standing back and letting them explore and figure things out for themselves. As Einstein said, ‘imagination is more important than knowledge,’ and that is essential to the preschool experience at First Step.”

Families, teachers and alumni from First Step plan to gather at The Victorian on Main Street for the April 30th celebration honoring Sinsheimer and 30 years of preschool education.

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