The Founders

The founders of Stepping Stones Preschool, Lisbeth Namara and Mary Tobin, started their first preschool on Divisadero Street in 1993. They met while working at Davies Medical Center in San Francisco, and when they were both pregnant decided to open a quality child care / preschool program that would fulfill their needs as working parents, as well as that of their soon to be preschoolers. 

Mary and Lisbeth, both born and raised in Europe (Ireland and Denmark) wanted to encompass some of the European style early childhood development into their program. In Ireland and Denmark young children are taught to be part of their community, by for instance, showing them how to cross the street, get on a bus etc. and in general, a great deal of emphasis is placed on socialization. Rather than "shielding" the children form life in a busy urban environment, Mary and Lisbeth wanted to embrace it! 

In 1997 they were invited by the Seventh Avenue Church to take over the space from another program that was terminating, and so on April 1st (April's Fool Day) 1997 Stepping Stones Preschool - Inner Sunset opened its doors. While this trickster day could have set it off on a questionable course, Inner Sunset Stepping Stones has continued to thrive to become what it is today. 

Located in a busy business district in the Inner Sunset, Stepping Stones Preschool continues to carry out the mission of celebrating its urban environment by exposing the children to the vibrant community with daily outings to our local parks and shops. 

Mary Tobin came to the US from Ireland with her husband in her mid twenties and settled in San Francisco, where she started her family. Today she is a mother to three daughters ages 10, 18, and 22, all of whom have journeyed through Stepping Stones. When she is not working in the school office, she still works at Davies as a nursing Supervisor in the Operating Room. She resides with her family in Ingleside Terrace. 

Lisbeth Namara came to the US in her late teens, initially to visit her American relatives, but wound up going to college here and settling down. She is married and has a son (14) and daughter (18) in high school, and both got their start in Stepping Stones Preschool. In addition to working with Mary at the preschool, she works as a stager and designer in her real estate staging company. She lives with her family in Golden Gate Heights.