At Shepherd of Desert Preschool, Jesus is alive and with us throughout our day. We celebrate Him with songs and music, through prayers and Bible stories, during our daily Jesus-Time lessons, and in our weekly chapel service.
In addition, Christ’s love is modeled and shared throughout the day and is evident in the interactions between teachers and students, teachers and teachers and students with their peers.
At Shepherd of the Desert, we care about the friends in our classrooms, the families in our school, the members in our church, our church/school staff and the people in our community.
Every child has something amazing to offer and makes a difference in our community. It is our goal to build a school-wide atmosphere where every child feels connected to each other, to the teachers, to the environment and to their own learning. This is done by establishing trust, listening to children and making them feel valued, having staff members who are interested and engaged with the students and making the students feel like they are a part of everything that happens in our community while helping them find success.
We also focus outwardly and participate in a variety of activities to help families in our church community, surrounding areas and beyond. We visit the care centers in our neighborhood and sing songs throughout the school year, we participate in worship services, pray for church and school families, collect items to donate to local charities, pack food for starving children and host a variety of other outreach events.
We believe that play and learning go hand-in-hand and that they are not separate activities. Therefore, our classrooms are center-based with a curriculum that supports a balance of student-directed and teacher-directed activities. Our goal is to help students become life long learners who are competent socially, academically and emotionally.
In all of our classrooms we use research-based curriculum and have monthly curricular themes as well. Daily lessons and concepts are augmented with children’s literature, non-fiction books and online learning sites.
In addition, every day in our classrooms we have the privilege to read the Bible and share stories with the children during “Jesus Time.” Each week a new story from the Bible is presented to the children along with crafts, songs and finger plays which make the story come alive. We are so blessed to be able to share Jesus with the little ones in our classrooms.
Safety and security for our students and staff are of highest priority at Shepherd of the Desert Preschool, and we have taken several measures to make sure that our campus is safe and secure at all times and that our students are well cared for.
All staff members employed at the preschool hold a current CPR and First Aid License. In addition, every staff member has a current and valid Fingerprint Clearance Card and has gone through the background check process through the Department of Child Safety per state licensing requirements.
Our Teacher/Student ratios are significantly below state licensing requirements. The ratios are as follows:
2-year-old classrooms have a 2:5 Teacher/Student ratio
3-year-old classrooms have a 2:8 Teacher/Student ratio
4-year-old classrooms have a 2:9 Teacher/Student ratio
Keeping ratios low ensures that each teacher is able to develop a strong relationship with each and every child in their care, it enables teachers to better monitor a student’s well-being and academic progress and it gives the teacher more time to interact with each student throughout the day.
Facility doors are locked during normal school hours. The only access to the preschool classrooms is through the main entrance where the doors remain locked during the school day. Visitors are admitted only after being vested by the office administrator and then buzzed in through our automatic door system. Our front entrance is constantly monitored throughout the day, and all school grounds are electronically monitored by video cameras set up in multiple areas both inside and outside our facility.
The playground area is securely fenced and has security monitors around the perimeter. All monitors are displayed in the preschool lobby so that the front office assistant is able to monitor the outside and back of the property as well as the parking lot and all sidewalks adjacent to the building.
When arriving at school, all parents are required to sign in their child on their classroom attendance sheet. This is what teachers use to keep track of all the children throughout the day and in case of emergencies. When the child leaves for the day, parents are required to sign out their child at the classroom before departing.
Shepherd of the Desert has written safety policies available to view in all of our classrooms, and our staff is trained on these emergency policies on a bi-yearly basis. Fire drills are performed once every month.
Shepherd of the Desert Preschool is licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services. In addition, SOTD is and has been accredited by National Lutheran School Accreditation commission for over 25 years. Accreditation is granted when nationally-recognized criteria for high-quality programs have been met. Extensive self-study and validation visits are required to complete this process every five years. Lutheran School Accreditation encourages and recognizes Lutheran schools and preschools that provide quality Christian education and engage in continuous academic and ministry improvement, and we are honored to be recognized for this achievement.