Preschool Programs

Play-Based Learning

In the Marylhurst School Preschool programs, emergent and play-based curriculum flows from the personal experiences of each individual child and is supported by the faculty and classroom community. We strive to strengthen the child’s sense of self so that she/he will learn to work cooperatively as well as independently in the world. Our focus is held on the rich and varied curriculum that will engage each child’s attention and ease initial separation between parent and child. As well, we focus on the overarching commitment to the social-emotional growth of each child. We ensure large, uninterrupted blocks of time for open-ended indoor and outdoor play. The environment is designed to invite discovery, independence, and social interaction.

Transitional Kindergarten

Wrens  M – Th 9:00 – 2:30

Rooted in play, our transitional kindergarten will serve as a bridge between preschool and kin­dergarten. Transitional kindergarten is a 4/5 blend: 4 year olds who turn 5 prior to December 1, and 5 year olds who would benefit from another year of preparation before a full-time kinder­garten program. Thematic curriculum will introduce children to early literacy and numeracy, while they are honing collaboration, problem solving and self-regulation abilities. In honor of the unique developmental journey each child travels, we recognize and value differences in levels of stamina, attention, social and emotional development and school readiness. Children are given time to grow as learners and community members, so that they may move on to kinder­garten—at either The Marylhurst School or elsewhere—with confidence.

Laura Olson — Transitional Kindergarten Teacher

Laura holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Missouri, Columbia and completed graduate studies coursework in School Counseling at Wake Forest University. “I am passionate about supporting parents and strengthening families.” Laura has been with The Marylhurst School since 2006 and loves the focus placed on community building in our classrooms. She is excited about introducing an integrated science curriculum in the primary grades during the school’s expansion.

Jessie Hirschhorn — Transitional Kindergarten Teacher

This is Jessie’s first year at The Marylhurst School. Originally from NYC, she graduated from Ithaca College with a BFA in Acting. She relocated to Portland last year to pursue Shakespeare and Theatre and has been working for a number of theatre companies around town. Jessie has ten years of volunteer Arts and Theatre teaching experience in countries like Peru, Thailand, Costa Rica, and other far-away places. She is thrilled to join the incredible Marylhurst team!

Four's Program

Mice and Owls M – Th 9:00–1:00 

Social, energetic and imaginative best describe the four-year-old.  Often impatient and silly, they discover humor and spend a great deal of time being outlandish and telling jokes.  Language is expansive and playful.  Imagination suddenly becomes greater than life for the four-year-old who often confuses reality with “make believe”.  Wild stories and exaggerations are common.  Four-year-olds feel good about the things they can do, show self-confidence, and are willing to try new adventures.

We believe nurturing children’s imaginations, language, stories, interests, and social relationships are essential to planning our evolving classroom curriculum.  We ensure large, uninterrupted blocks of time for open ended indoor and outdoor play.  The environment is designed to invite discovery, independence, and social interaction.

Kathy Gillies — Fours Preschool Teacher: Mice Class

Kathy has been with The Marylhurst School since 2003. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Southern Oregon University and has completed an endorsement in Early Childhood Education. When Kathy is not engaged in the imaginative and collaborative work of young children she is out exploring the outdoors with her family.

Pat Lammers — Fours Preschool Teacher: Mice Class

Pat has been teaching preschoolers for 30 years and with The Marylhurst School faculty since 2005. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from California State, Hayward. “I feel so fortunate to be a part of a collaborative community that has such profound respect for children. You can feel that the minute you walk through Marylhurst’s doors. “Why am I still teaching? I love seeing the world through the eyes of a child. It is pure joy!”

Andrea Batz — Fours Preschool Teacher: Owls Class

Andrea’s journey with The Marylhurst School began in 1996 when she toured the school with her now grown daughter. “I absolutely fell in love with how the school profoundly respected each child.” Within a year she was teaching in the Threes program and has also taught both Twos and Fours over the years. Andrea has a BA in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education from Purdue University. She has three children, athletes who she cheers on from the sidelines, and enjoys camping, hiking, and cooking.

Nancy Downes-Le Guin — Fours Preschool Teacher: Owls Class

Nancy received her B.A. in Art History from Bryn Mawr College, her M.A. in Art History from the University of Michigan, and her M.A.T. in Elementary Education from Lewis and Clark. She has taught pre-school through middle school, and loved every age! Nancy has three great children who keep her busy hiking, playing games and reading. She has been part of The Marylhurst School community since 2011 and is so excited to be part of the Owls classroom.

Kim Gilliam — Fours Preschool Assistant Teacher

Kim has been working with children for over 20 years and has taught within the Marylhurst preschool community since 2002.  When asked to take on the afterschool program, she created a warm and inviting community where children spend their afternoons following their regular school day. Kim graduated from Clackamas Community College with an Early Childhood Family Studies degree. “Teaching is where I belong”.

Three's Program

Raccoons, Turtles T–Th 9:00–12:00

A morning in the Three’s classes invites a child to paint, create art, try science experiments, listen to stories, engage in dramatic play and enjoy our outdoor environment while working in our community garden, climbing, running, swinging and exploring.

We strive to strengthen the child’s sense of self so that she/he will learn to work cooperatively as well as independently in the world.  Our focus is held on the rich and varied curriculum that will engage a child’s attention and ease initial separation between parent and child, as well as on our overarching commitment to the social-emotional growth of each child.

We recognize that the first social skills are nurtured through independent play, one-on-one experiences with a teacher or a peer, small group projects and participation with the entire class.  The children in the Three’s classes build the foundational blocks of their community by planning activities together, voicing their opinions, listening, compromising and coming to a consensus.

Elizabeth Kortenhof — Threes Preschool Teacher: Raccoons Class

Elizabeth was born and raised in Portland. She received a BA in German from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and received her elementary education certification at University of Texas at El Paso. Before starting her family, she taught elementary school for 13 years at a variety of schools – Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma WA, St Marks Academy in San Rafael CA, Hughey Elementary in El Paso TX, and Oregon Episcopal School in Portland to name a few. Elizabeth has three children of her own, who are the reasons she was originally drawn to Marylhurst in 2005. “I live for those moments when the faces of my students light up with an amazing discovery or accomplishment.” This is Elizabeth’s 10th year at Marylhurst.

Shawna Bennett — Threes Preschool Teacher: Raccoons Class

“There is nothing quite as exhilarating as watching a child’s face light up the moment they first accomplish a new skill, or successfully invite a friend to join in play.” Shawna joined The Marylhurst School faculty in 2005. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Western Oregon University, and five years’ experience teaching 2nd and 3rd grade in the Oregon City School District. Shawna enjoys hiking, camping, and has recently taken up running. She cherishes spending time with her family and is very proud of her two daughters.

Erin Kinney — Threes Preschool Teacher: Raccoons Class

Erin joined The Marylhurst School faculty in 2001. She took a few years off in 2004 to have her family, daughters MacKenzie and Rosemary who are the light of her life! She enjoys scrapbooking, running, reading and any type of vacation, particularly camping. Erin has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Mt Hood Community College. She brings these interests and experiences into the emergent curriculum of a classroom to cultivate children’s learning and make their experiences as enriching as possible.

Samantha Bering — Threes Preschool Teacher:  Turtles Class

Samantha has been teaching at The Marylhurst School since 2008. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Early Childhood Education at the State University of New York at Purchase, and also has a certificate in Early Childhood Development.  She has been working with preschool aged children since 1998. “I believe through play children are able to learn and grow into unique individuals.” Samantha spends her free time with her daughters, reading, BMXing, and traveling to see her family in New York.

Katelyn Baird — Threes Preschool Teacher:  Turtles Class

Katelyn Baird is returning to The Marylhurst School for her third school year in the Turtle class and Beehive. After being assigned to Marylhurst as a student teacher, she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Katelyn received her Associate degree in Early Childhood Education at Clackamas Community College and is working toward her Bachelor’s. Recently married, Katelyn enjoys spending time with her husband working on their house in Oregon City. She is looking forward to many more years at this wonderful school.

Karlie Lane — Threes Preschool Teacher:  Turtles Class

Bio coming soon.