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“Miss Cathy” Retires after 47 Years with Preschool

July 1, 2020 by Elaine Rottman

Mrs. Cathy Rempe, known to her preschool charges as “Miss Cathy,” retired from Providence School on June 30 after devoting 47 meaningful years of service to the children and families of Santa Barbara. 

She faithfully served the school through three iterations: El Montecito Nursery School (1958–2002), El Montecito School (2002–2018), and Providence School (2018–present day).

Originally, Cathy planned to be a high school teacher, earning a degree in education with a math major. But when she began working at El Montecito Nursery School in 1974 she discovered her passion for early childhood education. After settling into her teaching role, she began helping with administrative tasks, including developing curriculum, maintaining an attractive facility, and ensuring students had appropriate supplies for their classrooms. She served in this dual role for many years. 

After longtime preschool director Jeannine Morgan retired in January 2017, Cathy stepped into the director role. In the final three years of her career, Cathy oversaw the entire preschool program. Under her watchful eye, and with the support of admissions director Julia Davis, enrollment steadily increased as many young families in the Santa Barbara community sought out the Providence preschool experience.

Throughout the years, Miss Cathy loved every day she spent with her preschoolers. “It’s a wonderful feeling to see them grow, not only in size, but in their relationships with friends, their connections with the teachers, and most of all, their love for Jesus,” she reflected. She made a profound impact not only on her students, but their families. 

Goleta resident Katherine Farhadian’s children were among Miss Cathy’s charges. “I learned so much from her when I was a young mother bringing my kids to preschool at El Montecito School,” she said. “Cathy Rempe had such a huge impact on our family and she did it in her signature, humble, under-the-radar way. I think few people have contributed so much to so many.”

Cathy, with her late husband, George Rempe, parented two children, Michael and Stephanie. Both of them attended El Montecito Nursery School in the early 1970s.

“Miss Cathy has been a beloved part of our preschool program and we are grateful for her service,” a resolution by the Providence School board of directors recognizing Cathy Rempe’s long career read in part. “We hope the next years in retirement will be rewarding, joyful, and filled with time with her children and grandchildren.” 

Former students and their families who would like to honor Cathy Rempe may contribute to The Cathy Rempe Preschool Fund to support preschool operations. These remembrances will be honored with a bench and plaque in the San Roque garden, a place dearly loved by Miss Cathy and the children she has taught. To make a gift, visit providencesb.org/give or contact Caroline Corazza, Director of Advancement.

Tracy Larson, who has taught preschool students at El Montecito School and Providence School for more than 20 years, will serve as interim preschool director for the 2020-21 school year, while staying actively engaged with preschoolers. Providence Preschool opens to in-person instruction for two year olds through kindergartners on August 18.

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