Most marriages don’t last as long as Sunshine Preschool in Oro Valley.

The school, at 9000 N. Oracle Road, celebrated its 30th anniversary on Aug. 1. The nonprofit preschool and child-care organization opened in 1984, after founder Sue Trinacty suggested it to her dentists, who wanted to develop their four-acre plaza.

“There were no child-care centers here … and doctors (John) Haymore and (Eric) Hartvigsen thought it would be a good thing for the community, and here we are,” said Trinacty, the school’s director.

The school now serves about 65 families.

“We’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of kids since 1984,” said Trinacty, who said she could have never helped found the school without the dentists’ resources and others who provided assistance.

A typical day for a child at Sunshine can start at 7 a.m. Trinacty, 67, said the typical day is “equal parts joy and bedlam.”

By a little after 8 a.m., most children have arrived and put their belongings into their own cubby.

At 9 a.m., classes — split up by age — begin.

The day continues with activities children select and complete themselves, snacks, playtime, lunch and more recess. School ends at 1 p.m., but kids can stay for extended care until 5 p.m.

“There’s plenty of diversity in age, so they learn from one another,” she said.

“There’s a project every afternoon,” she said. The school has Thursday movie days, and other times, children participate in enrichment programs.

The children also participate in theater; arts; crafts; yoga; massage; and education in environmental practices, including harvesting rainwater and learning about solar panels.

Mindy Murillo visited several preschools before deciding on Sunshine. She and her daughter took a walk around the school, and decided it was the one.

“She was just really at home,” said Murillo, who began volunteering at the school in February before becoming a teacher.

The school has an established curriculum tailored to each child.

 It is licensed for 59 children per day, and has a staff of about 18 administrators and teachers. Tuition starts at $375 a month for three days a week.

A version of this story was published in the Star Northwest section.

Brittney Smith is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at or 573-4117.