Pre-School Staff

M. Marianne Smith

I have been working for Messiah since 2004 and became the director/teacher of the program in 2008. My two children attended Messiah’s preschool, so I believe in the program as a parent as well.

Various towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania were where I spent my early years. As a teenager, I was a member of the Christian puppet group SHINE (Sesame Street style but with a Christian message). I moved to Montana in 1988 and attended MSU-B, in their Elementary Education program, and received my degree in early childhood studies. I have been in elementary or preschool settings as a teacher or assistant since 1987. While a student, I was an aide here at Messiah under the original director, Joan Morris. One of my favorite experiences, post graduation, was teaching three and four year olds for a branch of Head Start in a Special Education inclusion classroom. During that time I was also a home caregiver for my father who was paralyzed and dependent on a respirator.

I met my husband in my own home when he came to supervise my father’s care. We were married at Messiah and our children were baptized here. After working in various elementary schools, I decided that preschool is really where my heart is. I actually enjoy the endless “why” questions from this age group. Working for Messiah takes this a step further, as I proudly get to teach a Bible story based curriculum. It focuses on academics through the Bible characters. Along with learning essential skills, children will get to hear about the Christmas story, Moses, or Noah and learn why they were important.

My early childhood approach has a process vs. product result. Children ages 3-5 need practice with their motor skills (as well as social interaction) while in a safe, nurturing environment. It doesn’t matter if the end result looks perfect. What matters is that they learn to perform the skills themselves and find success. Play is an important part of a child’s day as well. Morals and manners matter! Children need to learn to work things out together using words that work.

I am pleased to be part of the staff at Messiah Lutheran. Messiah Preschool is a welcoming space in which to learn and grow. The church’s mission is truly carried out in sharing God’s love by caring for all. Even the youngest members can make a joyful noise to the Lord!