By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
In her 30 years as an early childhood educator, Maria Sandoval has attended quite a few weekly chapel sessions at Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Preschool. But last week’s chapel may have been the most special yet, as the school surprised her with a special ceremony honoring her three decades of service.
Sandoval—or “Ms. Maria” to adoring students and staff—said the moment was so unexpected that, at first, she didn’t even realize the ceremony was for her. “I said, oh my goodness—they’re celebrating me,” she told the Palisadian-Post, laughing. Sandoval added that 30 years passed quickly, and said that she felt “blessed to work for Pali Pres for so long.”
Preschool Programs Director Julie Baczewski said Sandoval’s 30-year anniversary snuck up on church staff—they happened to be reviewing some old files when they discovered the impressive milestone. “All of a sudden, here’s this half-piece of paper,” she explained. “And there’s her date-of-hire: September 1986.” Baczewski quickly emailed the preschool’s pastor, and soon the whole school was in on the ceremony, with staff handling the flower arrangements and students making colorful cards.
Baczewski said the little ceremony was the least the school could do to honor Sandoval’s long-time commitment to Pali Pres. Sandoval has been with the school long enough to watch her students become teens and adults. She’s even spanned generations, with one of her earliest students eventually sending a daughter to be in her class. Through it all, Baczewski told the Post that Sandoval has always taken joy in working with the kids. “Her loyalty and her love of children have propelled her through her career,” she said.
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