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Destined for preschool

Thirty years after her first day, woman celebrates her career, visits with former students.

October 05, 2010|By Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com
  • Sienna Weston, 4, right, watches as her brother, Shea, 7, has his face painted like a tiger during the 30-year anniversary party for Patti's Preschool and Kindergarten on Saturday.
Sienna Weston, 4, right, watches as her brother, Shea,… (KENT TREPTOW, HB…)

Some people always wonder what to do with their life, switching majors in college and careers, but for others, it was always meant to be.

Huntington Beach resident Patti Young falls into the latter category.

Born into a family of educators — her mother was an elementary school teacher and her two younger sisters became educators — Young showed early aptitude for early childhood development.

As a teenager, Young would take charge of her little sisters and the neighborhood kids, keeping them busy with different activities she would plan out like arts-and-crafts projects and pretend parades.

"It was always assumed in my family that Patti would have a preschool," she said.

Her family's assumption came true, and Saturday afternoon, Young celebrated the 30th anniversary of Patti's Preschool at 19270 Goldenwest St. with food, festivities, face-painting and balloon art.

Young started her preschool with $6,000 and three students at Beach Boulevard and Knoxville Avenue. She has moved locations and grown her business to two locations, but consolidated to one final location with 150 students nestled behind the Seacliff Village Shopping Center.

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The preschool serves children aged 2 to 6 with three levels: preschool, kindergarten and an intermediate program called "stepping up to kindergarten" for children who aren't quite ready for the transition.

When Young started her own preschool after working at others and going to school for early childhood development, she said she just wanted to make children learn in a fun way.

"Learning has to be exciting, and school has to be something they want to go to," she said.

Looking back on her career so far, Young said she is shocked and in awe of what she has accomplished.

One of her biggest accomplishments is when the children come back to visit her. Young said she has had the opportunity to see her former students grow up and even has some of her students, now grown, enroll their own children at her preschool.

"It's such an honor that they want to come back and bring their children," she said.

Julia Rozolis-Hill, 10, was one of the former students who came back Saturday with her family to celebrate the 30th anniversary. Julia, although young, said she remembers enjoying her time there.

Julia's mother, Jennifer Rozolis-Hill, said both her children were given strong academic and social foundations at the preschool and were more than prepared when they started kindergarten.

"It's the best first school for kids," said Julia's father, Tom Rozolis-Hill. "Everybody should be able to send their kids here."

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