The History and Vision of Joyce

1966 Ruth Helen Marks, wife of the pastor Joyce United Methodist Church, realized many children in the Uptown neighborhood lacked options for early education. She worked to found Joyce Preschool, which has offered high-quality preschool to families regardless of ability to pay ever since.

1994 Head Teacher Sharon Dill watched the rapidly growing Latino community and saw their substantial barriers to accessing quality early childhood education. In response to that growing need, the following year Joyce Preschool became the only fully bilingual preschool in Minneapolis. To support peer learning, the program was structured around equal numbers of English and Spanish speaking children, with the curriculum taught in both languages.

2004 Joyce Preschool became a nonprofit, a reflection of its commitment to accountability and the strength of Joyce’s donor community.

2012 Joyce at Windom, the preschool’s first satellite classroom, opened at Windom Dual Immersion Elementary in South Minneapolis. A landmark for both the preschool and Minneapolis Public Schools, the Joyce at Windom classroom was the first private preschool to operate in a Minneapolis public school.

2013 After nearly 47 years housed in its original location, Joyce Preschool relocated to a space within Park Avenue United Methodist Church, where it continues to operate today. The move was prompted in part by the preschool’s longtime plan to expand to accommodate more students, and in part by the closing of the historic Joyce Church. In the years since Sharon Dill first proposed a two-language concept, Joyce Preschool has refined its two-way immersion approach and more than doubled in size. Joyce continues its commitment to removing barriers to accessing early childhood education through providing scholarships and transportation.

Our Mission

The mission of Joyce Preschool is to provide children from diverse ethnic, linguistic, and economic backgrounds with developmentally and culturally appropriate preparation for success in school and lifelong learning. This mission is achieved through providing quality early childhood education and family support in a dual immersion setting. Our program provides the crucial bridge to success in K-12 education. We focus on school readiness, second language acquisition and cultural appreciation, and parent involvement and support.

Our Vision for the Future

The vision of Joyce Preschool is to become a recognized leader in offering bilingual and multicultural early childhood education, offering its model for replication to local and regional early childhood educators.

Our Guiding Values

  • Quality of educational standard as paramount
  • Quality of staff and staff development as key to program success
  • Balanced enrollment of students with Spanish / English as first language
  • Need-blind admission policy; commitment to 40-60% scholarship
  • Balancing staff with Spanish and English as first language
  • Strong Latino community relationships and partnerships
  • Collaborations and partnerships as a means of extending our reach
  • Maintaining and valuing the quality of the school environment


Educating Children. Changing Lives.

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