After years of contemplation, false hopes and premature starts, in 1998, a group of St. Francis parishioners began in earnest to plan for a preschool on the premises. There was a great need for additional preschool facilities in the area, and many parents in the Great Falls area had to travel dozens of miles to place their children in a program available to them. Moreover, an Episcopalian school as an integral part of St. Francis Church especially was the desire of these folk.
Finally, on January 8, 2001, the St. Francis Crèche opened its doors to 15 children in a single classroom. Anne Watts, an experienced educator and administrator, was the first director. Assisting her were teachers Lisa Black and Gail Benkert. Jane Ruppe began in February 2001 as a teacher, and became the director in October 2002. Jane continues in this role today. By the fall of 2001, Susan Kelly and Patty York were hired and two dozen children were enrolled using two classrooms. By 2004, full capacity had been attained. Fifty children a day could be served at any one time in the six available classrooms with 12 teachers.
The rest is history!