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. When they were both pregnant , they decided to open a high quality childcare / 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. 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 from 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. 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.

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, all of whom have journeyed through Stepping Stones. When she is not working in the school office, she is a Nursing Supervisor at Sutter Health at Davies campus. 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 and daughter 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.