"The decision to send our children to American Martyrs Preschool was the best decision that we have made so far regarding the education of our children. My oldest child is in Middle School now, and last night we went to a presentation at the school about the importance of the so-called “21st Century Skills” (critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity), and how we need to incorporate those into the curriculum. Well, it seems that AMP is years ahead of its time – those are the skills that my children were taught in pre-school. The play-based curriculum not only creates the most fun environment for the kiddos in which to learn, but I believe that it’s also the best foundation for life. AMP builds self-esteem, social skills (like communication, collaboration, impulse control, confidence), as well as problem solving. Could my children read before they got to kindergarten? No; in fact none of them even knew the alphabet. But they caught up quickly, and we received comments from their kindergarten teachers like “he’s a thinker” and “she’s good at problem solving.” There is plenty of time to learn the alphabet, but nothing can replace the emotional intelligence that they gained in pre-school."
"We love that kids are free to be messy, encouraged to be curious and surrounded by unconditional love. American Martyrs Preschool is magical."
- Kevin and Kim
"Through progressive discovery, pure fun, love and caring – our daughter has developed a passion for learning! We are so grateful to have found American Martyrs Preschool".
- Mark & Megan
"American Martyrs Preschool is top-notch. Its developmental approach to teaching has laid a strong foundation for my children to academically and socially flourish upon graduation to kindergarten in the elementary school next door. The teaching staff nurtures a child's natural inquisitiveness which aids in fostering a child's life-long love of learning. Some parents may think the children only play at preschool, but never underestimate the power of play. I see strong social development, excellent creative experiences and many opportunities to increase fine motor skills. My children routinely brought home to me stories they wrote, pictures they drew, airplanes they constructed or jewelry they beaded. I see young doctors, engineers and mathematicians at play here.
This is my sixth year at the preschool and it is continually evolving. The well-skilled staff is constantly introducing new activities for the children. My children were never bored here. A new wonder always awaited them at the preschool. Playing in real snow, watching baby chicks hatch, growing vegetables and learning yoga are just a few of the exciting activities my children loved at the preschool. My advice to any prospective parent is if you are lucky enough to get into the preschool then look no further because this is an amazing school on so many different levels."
"My son attended American Martyrs Preschool the first year it opened
and my daughter followed three years later. It was at AMP that they
developed a passion and love of learning, a trust in the teachers who cared for and instructed them, and a sense of who they are and that they can make a difference in the world. At AMP, my kids had a chance to explore, to create and to think freely. They also had an incredible amount of fun.
When my children graduated and began their more formal schooling,
they were enthusiastic, outgoing, and self-assured, and the academics all fell into place. At AMP, the focus is not on forcing youngsters to learn their A, B, C's or how to count to a hundred. Those skills and countless others are encouraged entirely through play and meaningful experiences that
are developmentally appropriate.
My children drew upon their preschool experiences to have a better
understanding and a deeper appreciation for their school lessons. They already understood math and science ideas because they'd spent time building with blocks, hatching chicks, digging for worms, and playing store. They quickly learned to read and write because they had spent time at preschool creating their own stories and acting them out with friends using costumes and props of their own making. Most importantly, they were engaged and creative learners who participated actively in their classes.
My kids today are honor students, they are involved in sports,
school clubs and other extracurricular activities. They support and care about their classmates, the environment, and their community. AMP was a wonderful beginning to a lifetime of learning. I feel extremely grateful that my children had the opportunity to attend this extraordinary school."
"We love living in this community, but feel sometimes it is in a rush to be bigger, better, older, smarter... even at very young age. AMP is a place to relish the opportunity to be three and four years old. AMP embraces the beauty of being a preschooler. It is such a special and amazing time of exploration, play, and socialization. I’m so glad we didn’t mistakenly substitute flash cards and memorization for this brief period of enchantment. I saw each one of my children grow. There is nothing more precious than to see a child’s face engaged in an activity that uses their unique imagination, to watch them work and build unique projects. Three of my children were blessed to be part of the AMP world, and each child is so different in personality, yet AMP provided a warm and safe environment for each of them to exponentially learn and grow - truly a blessing."
"Before our first child was even born, we knew we wanted to be part of the AMP family. The school had a fantastic reputation and we had heard about it for years. After meeting several AMP parents, doing a tour & meeting the Director and teachers, AMP clearly stood above all the other preschools we had seen. Little did we know then that this was one of the best decisions we could have made for our little ones!
Our second child is now at AMP, and it is her "happy place." Like our son, she loves school days so much. It's no wonder - you can feel a warm and loving energy from the moment you walk in. The play-based philosophy allows children to live as 3 and 4 year olds should: It allows them to explore with their senses, experience cause and effect, learn independence, make choices and build confidence. Here they are taught to use their words and wait for their turn. Our son, a graduate of AMP, often reminisces about his fun days in preschool. Now that he is in full-day structured Kindergarten learning to read and write, we are so happy he had the gift of 2 fun-filled years at AMP, where he could just enjoy being an energetic, imaginative little boy. Preschool is a short and precious time in a child's life, and AMP makes these years extra special... "
- Luke and Sunny
"The beauty of AMP is that children are allowed to be children...their creativity, curiousity, emotion, and energy are celebrated. The children are guided and taught with care and love. And as a parent, I have learned to be more compassionate, more thoughtful with my words, and more knowledgeable of my childrens' development by watching the staff and teachers interact with the students."
"We absolutely love American Martyrs Preschool. AMP fosters creativity, independent thinking, problem solving and an early love of education. Our kids have blossomed at AMP. We moved to the San Gabriel Valley in our last semester of preschool and still take the kids to AMP. It is worth every mile on the road.
Our kids can’t wait for preschool days and do a “happy dance” whenever they know they’re going to school. They absolutely love school. My daughter said that her two favorite things are birthday parties and preschool."
"My son has grown and learned so much since attending AMP…I can’t say enough great things about this wonderful place to do it justice…I knew from the moment I walked into the classrooms with the Director during the tour that this was the perfect place for our son. The teachers are so caring and genuinely take an interest in the child’s learning and development…it is a comfort to know my child is in a loving and nurturing environment and I know he is happy and experiencing things he would not experience anywhere else."
"AMP has provided a loving and fun environment for my children. Their individuality is embraced and with it creativity thrives. My daughter who has graduated lovingly speaks of her time there and often wants to visit. She is thriving in Kindergarten. I believe AMP gave her a positive first experience at school."
'I try on a daily basis to pinpoint why my boys have this amazing sense of self worth and inner joy. What I've discovered is that it is an amazing early life experience at AMP which allows children to experience the freedom to discover, play to learn and love life and all it holds. I'm a better parent because of the lessons that the Director and her loving staff demonstrate daily while they hold our children in their hands. Lucky is how I felt then, blessed is how I feel now."
"My husband and I visited another school to check out their program for our son next year if we decide not to send him to Kindergarten. The environment was so different from what has been created at American Martyrs and I could not have felt more grateful that our boys have had the experience of being part of the American Martyrs Preschool program. The preschool is definitely something so unique and special. For any parent who questions education over play at this age, I would challenge them to see the kids’ faces at AMP versus a school with a more structured curriculum. There is a world of difference. We count ourselves lucky to be part of the AMP family."
"As the mother of 4 children, each of whom had completely different experiences at Martyrs, I am certain that AMP was the ideal preschool for our family. Each one of my children painted, splashed, hammered, glued, swung, slid, decorated, climbed, planted, created, drew, colored, listened and PLAYED. They dressed up, got wet, got dirty, changed their clothes, got dirty again. AMP provided the ideal surroundings to experiment, observe, discover and learn. I see how quickly time is passing and how fast this world is moving, and I am so grateful that my kids first introduction to school was at a place where they were encouraged to be kids!"
"Our two children thoroughly enjoyed their time at American Martyrs Preschool. It provided exactly what we envisioned for their preschool years: loads of fun, messy play, opportunities for social interaction and an exciting gateway to the many years of school ahead.
While often described as a “developmental” preschool, we think of the program as engaging in “experiential” learning. What happens when I mix shaving cream with food coloring? Can I paint with this new concoction? What happens if I paint myself or my classmate? How many nails can I pound into a pumpkin? Are frogs or snakes slimier? Why does it take 21 days for the little chicks to hatch – that takes way too long? Why is the snow melting faster over here than over there?
I was continually amazed with the creativity of the teachers and the new experiences they presented to the children. While there was an appropriate amount of daily consistency, things were hardly routine. On any given day a portion of the classroom would have been transformed into a Japanese restaurant, a space capsule or an official office setting complete with computer keyboards, phones, calculators and memo pads. These transformations were not limited to the classroom. The outside play area saw its share of change throughout the year. Swings were erected, lumber and PVC pipe was provided for construction, pumpkins were used as bowling balls, Christmas time rang in a forest of trees and snow arrived in mid-winter! Finally, the kids enjoyed a myriad of visitors to the school including farm animals, reptiles, and Irish and Folklorico/Mexican dancers. These unique opportunities lead to comprehensive learning in a fun way that is perfectly-suited for the preschool child.
In addition to their creativity, the warmth of the teachers and staff is remarkable. These ladies are truly dedicated and their passion for being with preschool children shows. Our daughters’ eyes still light up when they see their former teachers. Even more remarkable, the teachers’ eyes also light up with they see our daughters. Over the years the preschool’s leadership has developed a team of dedicated professionals – many of whom have been there since it first opened in 2000."
- Mary and Eric
"Our girls learned with all fie senses at AMP, which provided a loving, nurturing and stimulating environment for them. Walking through the gate at AMP was entry into a magical world of love, fun and new experiences for both our kids and us.
Our kids learned how to use their words to express themselves, navigate sticky situations and develop meaningful relationships then and now. “Learning by doing” is ALIVE at AMP!
The opening prayer of “Thank you God for our family, our friends, and our brand new day” continues to guide our family. LOVE is the foundation of AMP: Love yourself, love your neighbor, love learning!"
- Lisa and Kyle
"I have had three children attend American Martyrs preschool, and it truly is, "the happiest preschool on earth!" My son attended its inaugural year and his younger siblings could not wait to go when they were old enough. I love their philosophy that play is learning. Kids today have so much pressure with school, sports, and outside activities that this type of nurturing, fun and uplifting environment is priceless at this age! I love the fact that each parent, grandparent and child who walks through the gate is greeted with a smile! My kids were always excited to go to school, and many times were not ready to go home when I came to pick them up! You can tell the teachers love what they do. It takes a special person to have patience day after day with 3, 4 and 5 year olds, and they ROCK at what they do. Two thumbs up to the staff of AMP and thank you for giving my children a safe and loving preschool experience!"
"We have had a wonderful experience at AMP with our eldest child. Everyone is so supportive and caring. The teachers and the Director greet you with a warm smile on their faces every day and are there to help you and answer any questions you might have. We know our kids are in a safe and nurturing environment that will allow them to explore and learn. The "hands on experience" is something you can't find in every preschool. Every child is allowed to progress at their own pace and AMP plans great activities throughout the year like Reptile Days, Snow Week, Irish Dancers and Pajama Days which the kids look forward to. We have thoroughly enjoyed our experience and look forward to two more years with our youngest child. We would highly recommend AMP to anyone."
- Patrick and Carissa
"When we began looking into preschools, the moment we came to AMP we knew we had found the perfect place for our twins. American Martyrs Preschool has a beautiful facility, with state of the art indoor and outdoor spaces. But what sets it apart is its Director. She is dedicated to creating the best possible environment for the development and growth of "her" children. Beyond her superb intellect lies a deeply compassionate person whose love for children is paramount. American Martyrs Preschool was a place that my two kids (now 5th graders) were able to explore worlds that touched every sense - touch, sound, smell, sight, taste and especially wonder. They experienced pounding nails into pumpkins, grinding corn, making goop, holding lizards and snakes and petting wallabies, climbing, crawling through tunnels, hatching baby chicks, Irish dancing, and sledding in real snow. The Director's caring and professional staff makes all of this possible as they manage the beautiful madness that is high energy groups of 3 and 4 year olds. It is a little touch of heaven on the corner of 18th and Laurel, and we are so grateful to have been a part of it."
"The experiences my children had in preschool gave them a solid foundation of love, trust and happiness. Their introduction to the school environment was in a very magical place. They had the freedom to explore and play in a very nurturing environment that never restricted their curious minds. To this day, my children are confident problem solvers and trust their own instincts and ideas. The bonds we made with the other families at American Martyrs Preschool will last a lifetime. I will be forever grateful for the support my family and I received from the entire AMP community when we were going through a very difficult time with the loss of my older brother. AMP is a wonderful gift to the entire family!"
"The Director and her staff at preschool influenced our lives in so many ways that we can only think of one word to summarize it all: gratitude. From the moment our first daughter was admitted to start her first year at preschool (three years ago), she made us feel welcome and very special. She would say: “It’s the Holy Spirit”!
The first months went by and the new school took some getting used to for our daughter and us. Our daughter would come home almost everyday with tons of dirty and wet clothes and a pink little “ouchy note” that worried us a bit. When talking to other parents, we discovered that the amount of wet and dirty clothes were in direct proportion to how much fun the kids had that day. So we started to respect those heavy orange bags and start considering them as trophies. The ouchy notes helped us as parents to dramatically change our parenting style for the better. It took a while for our daughter to get used to her new preschool, since she rarely had the chance to play barefoot at her previous school. They explained to us the importance of playing and how children learn through their senses. Often she would print articles for us to read, recommend books and even lend us educational material for us to learn from. Our daughter benefitted tremendously from her new preschool. She loved going to preschool and she was excited every single morning we took her there.
During those two years, every time something important happened with our daughter, like the change to a big bed, the welcome of our third baby, her allergies, etc. the Director was always there to give advice, help and support. With great fondness we recognize how important the loving approach was and still is for us as parents, from the daily quota of hugs, to the emotional support that is offered to all of the preschool parents unconditionally. We used to wonder if she could remember our names, our girl’s names, and everyone else’s, but she does!
The staff at AMP was always concerned about our daughter’s happiness and well-being. They love children. We were happily surprised to find that they care about our daughter selflessly, consistently, as if she were a member of their family. We currently have our second daughter in the preschool and during the hours she is there, we have peace of mind and joy in our hearts, since we know that our girl is playing with the toys and natural environment that she needs to develop and grow up happily."
- Maricel and Hector
"We have been thrilled with the quality of American Martyrs Preschool in every way. The magic begins at drop off. From the moment you arrive, you are made to feel special. Each adult, child (including each sibling and nanny) is greeted by name. The staff is exceptional. Teachers regularly attend in-services and trainings to hone their skills and learn more about child development. The staff seems to be genuinely passionate about their work and staff turn-over is virtually zero. Because of the leadership provided by the director, the teachers have grown with each other, many for 10 plus years.
Of the many preschools I toured, I was struck by the knowledge of child development shared by the Director. I believe that the tone and climate is set from top leadership, like all things. They are eager to try new things, much of which is research based. They do an amazing job of putting research into real practice. They strive for constant improvement of an already dynamic program.
Outside resources are continually provided to both preschool students and their parents. The school brings in real snow, farm animals and speakers for extra special events. I recently completed a parenting workshop that was presented on campus at a reduced price because of our affiliation with the preschool. Additional resources for parents are available by request. So far this year, an outside speech and hearing expert conducted screenings on site and a police officer conducted fingerprinting for an additional cost. I found this to be yet another value-added bonus.
There are many great programs in the area, but we chose American Martyrs because we want our child to play. We live in a pretty competitive community and we want to make sure she has a chance to enjoy all the fun of exploring, discovering and getting soaking wet and dirty if she chooses. She is very active and curious. We greatly appreciate how they have taken time to understand what motivates our daughter while consistently supporting her and nurturing her spirit."
"When I first took the tour of American Martyrs Preschool, I thought to myself...this is the one for our first born! The tour starts in the yard where we watched one little boy dumping orange liquid down the slide which later we found out was colored water that the children loved to play with. Other children rode three wheeler tricycles on the path (please note they always have the "right of way" as they should!). We saw sand pits filled with pots and pans, river brooks, story nooks and tree-houses. As we meandered inside, the rooms were even more impressive! The "developmentally appropriate program" that we were introduced to was truly exciting to both myself and my husband. I absolutely loved the idea of growth and development through the concept of play. The philosophy of AMP simply made sense! I was sold at the end of the tour. According to our daughter's lovely teachers, our shy, gentle-souled preschooler has progressed while at AMP. I also just learned of a beautiful friendship that recently blossomed within her classroom. I have yet to see her holding hands with her new friend but just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. We are blessed to have such a wonderful preschool with such a caring staff within our community. We feel fortunate to be a part of it "
"I felt at peace with Gabriella at AMP. You can go on with your daily activities without a worry. It’s like leaving your child at grandma’s house and all the cousins and aunts are there in one big house. It’s a family and family members look after each other. When you walk in, you're greeted with so much warmth and you wish your child could remain in preschool".
"AMP parents will gain as much, if not more, insight and growth as their children will. The time and effort the teachers spent with my child was critical in his emotional and intellectual development. They also indirectly
guided us (the parents), giving us the tools to ensure our child would succeed in AMP and secure a spot in the grade school of our choice in Manhattan Beach.
AMP provided superb education to my child with phenomenal, engaged teachers at a beautiful school. All this for a tuition that is the same or less than other area preschools. And to top it off the preschool is blocks
away from the beach!!
This preschool prepares parents and their children to excel at the next level. The children graduating from AMP are considered the most gifted and talented children by all area K-8 schools. And AMP does this by providing the top regional teachers, at a beautiful school on the beach, at such a value that it almost doesn't seem fair to the other area preschools. As a parent I almost don't want to share with other parents this gem until all my children have graduated AMP, for fear that it will become even more popular and competitive!"
"When I took my tour of American Martyrs Preschool, I was instantly put at ease by its Director’s calming and kind presence. I was then blown away by the amount of knowledge she has regarding early childhood development, and by the way that this knowledge has been implemented in the school to make it a place where kids can truly grow (and be
kids!). I feel confident that my son will be in good hands and am so grateful that we have found this place."
"Three years ago we moved to the South Bay from Leawood, KS. Not knowing anyone, we wondered how difficult it would be to meet new people and make friends. Our friends in Kansas had told us about American Martyrs Church and being raised Catholic, my wife, son and I attended Mass one Sunday morning. Walking into church we looked up at the street sign and to our amazement saw the words "Deegan Place", Deegan is our oldest son and at the time our only one. Part of us already felt right at home. We were amazed by all the families and how charismatic and engaging Monsignor Barry was. At the end of Mass, everyone stayed after to catch up and there were many hugs shared amongst old friends. We were a little intimidated wondering how we would break in and make friends, feeling that most of these people were "locals" and had known each other forever. As time went by we joined and participated in many outreach programs such as Cornerstone, MOM, MOYC just to name a few. Before we knew it, we were staying after church to catch up and hug friends, people that we feel we have known forever. We had found our community, a true sense of Catholic Community.
As time went on, Deegan grew older and it was time for him to attend a preschool. Many of the people we know had spent time researching different options, but we knew that AMP was the place for Deegan. American Martyrs had become a second home to us and its parishioners an extenuation of our family. The teachers, faculty, community and environment at AMP have played a critical role in Deegan's development. We trust the school implicitly with Deegan's well being and his future. He can’t wait to get there every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. When we pick him up, we can see why.
Corinthians taught us that three things endure in this life- Faith, Hope and Love. We now have 3 boys and every day we try to teach our children these three virtues. We feel that these teachings are carried over to AMP along with skilled teachers, resources, and a blessed, caring environment. The greatest virtue God gives us is Love. We love Deegan and that is why we chose American Martyrs Preschool."
- Patrick and Jennifer
"I can’t say enough wonderful things about American Martyrs Preschool! My daughter attended preschool there, years 2001-2004, and it was the BEST place for her. At the time, as her parent , I was going thru some personal struggles and really wanted her to go to the school for several reasons 1) I was a member of the AM church and wanted to stay in the community 2) This was my first ‘preschool’ experience , and wanted it to be the right place and 3) most importantly , I needed the support of my friends that had their kids in the school. What I found was the most understanding, gracious, loving, and supportive Director I could imagine. Not only were we surrounded there, but also had the talent of the teachers for our children. In the South Bay, there are several choices for preschool, and I am so happy to have had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of such a special place."
"At AMP we became part of a lifelong community as a family. Gathering together to start the day with song became such an important part of our routine that we still sing the welcome song to each other over 5 years later!
Children are always first priority at AMP. The Director works diligently to create a program that encourages the development of the whole child. Every space at the school empowers children to make choices of their own and develop their senses. American Martyrs Preschool is a happy place for children, a place where they are free to experiment and explore.
Our oldest son began his journey as an independent free spirit at AMP. His sense of adventure and love of people and outdoors was encouraged and nurtured by his teachers. We often would arrive to a boy dressed in fabric swinging from the monkey bars as Tarzan. His imagination and creativity was always embraced with love! Now that he has moved on to middle school, we are confident that the tools he gained at the early stages of his development will help him adapt in any situation.
Our daughter developed her courage and thrived in the warm and nurturing environment at AMP. Given the opportunity, any child can thrive and develop the important tools to become a remarkable human being. American Martyrs Preschool is that opportunity - we are fortunate to have such a wonderful resource in our community. Now her confidence and strength have led her to many amazing events and experiences as a second grader.
Best of all, we are thrilled that we have another little one to experience the wonders of AMP! Our littlest will begin her adventure in another year or two and we are excited to see how the experience unfolds for her. We would not have it any other way!
We love American Martyrs Preschool and are grateful for all that it has done to help our children develop into the loving, confident and amazing young people they are!"
"American Martyrs developmental approach to learning in the preschool years encouraged my daughters’ individual curiosity and creativity in a safe, loving environment. Both of my children have been very successful academically in both private and public school settings. Their tactile experiences with soap in the stream, unabashed painting on the easels and Rosie the Boa Constrictor formed the early foundation for them to subsequently develop unique solutions using knowledge obtained across multiple disciplines such as math, science, art, and analytical writing. Most children read by the time they are in 3rd grade but how they get there makes a lifetime of difference. I will be forever grateful to Miss Jeannie and her staff for allowing my daughters to develop their own path to reading and academics and understanding that life can sometimes have more than A,B or C for solutions."
American Martyrs Preschool is a Catholic preschool based on faith, hope and love: faith in Jesus, hope for the future and love of all that God has created.
We believe that trusting relationships, mutual respect and communication are critical aspects of a young child’s learning environment.
We believe that play is the primary vehicle through which a child’s cognitive, physical, social/emotional and language development occurs.
We believe that parents are our partners in the education, spiritual guidance, and care of our children.
We at American Martyrs Preschool provide a safe, loving and stimulating environment that facilitates learning through hands-on experiences. Our developmentally appropriate program promotes success for every child and in so doing nurtures a positive self-concept—the foundation for a life-long love of learning.
Children at American Martyrs Preschool are exposed to many activities rooted in the academic disciplines. In addition, the social/emotional development of our children is a major focus of our program: the nurturing of imagination and creativity, the ability to engage each other in play and the practice of communication skills including the language of conflict resolution. We know that these skills, coupled with resilience, are paramount to success in elementary school and beyond.
The Value Of A Mixed-Age Program
Mixed-age play offers opportunities for learning and development not present in play among those close in age. It is less competitive, more creative, and more conducive to practicing new skills than is same-age play. In mixed-age play, younger children learn from the more sophisticated behavior of older children, and also typically receive more emotional support from older kids than from those near their own age. Mixed-age play also permits older children to learn by teaching and to practice the more altruistic behaviors of nurturance and leadership. Olders are often inspired by the imagination and creativity of their younger playmates.
American Journal of Play, volume 3, number 4. Peter Gray, Ph.D. is a research professor of psychology at Boston College primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play.
Why is Play Important to Young Children?
Play contributes to all areas of children’s growth. It is the primary vehicle through which their cognitive, language, social/emotional and physical development occurs.
Think about it! In play, children:
• Use their imaginations
• Think flexibly
• Solve problems both with materials and with people
• Cooperate with others
• Work through their feelings in creative ways
• Pay attention
• Use something to represent something else (the beginning of symbolic thought)
• Develop a sense of competence
• Play experiences lay a solid foundation on which our young children can build successes as lifelong learners.
American Martyrs Preschool
1705 Laurel Avenue
Manhattan Beach CA 90266
Mara Zepeda, Director
Sandra Neill, Office Contact
Phone 310.802.8149 Fax 310.802.0720
The Crisis in Early Education