Preschool teacher serves her church for 30 years

EVERETT — Sue Baxter has worked with preschoolers at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church for so long that former students are enrolling their children in her program.

She will retire in July after 30 years of teaching preschool.

The idea of serving two generations of students might be staggering to some teachers, but Baxter is buoyed by her faith — not to mention her sense of humor.

“We have kids of kids now coming through the program, and it makes me feel like a dinosaur,” Baxter said. “There are kids that I taught that are now the age of my own children and I think ‘Oh my gosh, I have been here a long time.’”

Baxter, 63, who moved to Snohomish from the greater Los Angeles area in 1978, said a friend told her about a teaching position open at the church.

After moving to Snohomish, she got the job and began teaching at a site on Swan’s Trail. After living near Los Angeles, the rustic quality of the developing town was quite a shock to her.

For instance, there were cows.

“The cows were always mooing during class. It was an adjustment for this Southern California girl,” Baxter said. “And having to go use the outdoor toilets was always an adventure. But it was a great experience; I loved it.”

After teaching preschool for Prince of Peace for seven years, she was given the position of director. Baxter attributed the success of the Prince of Peace preschool program to a diligent staff, the backing of her church family, and the parents with whom she has built relationships.

“I’m old enough to be the mother of some of these adults who bring their kids to the school — so I tell them what to do and they can’t get mad at me,” Baxter said. “I know kids, and as a parent I know what’s worked and what hasn’t.”

Jack Richards, pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, attributed the program’s success to Baxter’s diligence and faithfulness.

“She has been a preschool educator for four decades and understands the progressive age-appropriate needs of these kids,” Richards said. “There are social and spiritual needs that she has been able to impart to these children.”

Prince of Peace Lutheran, which currently has 500 students enrolled in the preschool program, has sites throughout Snohomish County, from Marysville to Bothell. Baxter and Prince of Peace Lutheran have helped other churches launch their own preschool programs.

“There are some things more important than being an accelerated academic student,” Richards said. “These kids come here and learn what it is to be a child of God, and to be loved by God.”

As her retirement looms, Baxter said she intends to soak up as much quality time as possible with the children she has come to love over the years.

“Parents and staff ask me if I’m counting down the days, but it’s the opposite. I’m savoring them,” Baxter said. “But I sure won’t miss the snow days.”

Reporter Justin Arnold: 425-339-3432 or

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