HELLO FAMILIES

Welcome to The Giving Tree Preschool! We are so glad you stopped by. The Giving Tree provides a high-quality, fun, faith-based learning environment in which your child will flourish. Located in the heart of downtown, The Giving Tree has been a unique and beautiful part of Lawrence culture for over 40 years.

At the Giving Tree we take an innovative approach to education. Years of professional and educational experiences have led our staff to develop and refine systems and structures that meet each child at their specific developmental level. We look beyond simply grouping and instructing by age. We look at the whole child and begin our process. A fusion of social skills, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive and pre-academic skills are woven thoughtfully into our day, resulting in the optimal preschool experience for your child.

Your child is our first priority. The goal of our professionally trained staff is to understand each child’s learning style, strengths, needs and goals and meet each of these in a developmentally appropriate manner. We aim to help each child reach their fullest potential while preparing for future school readiness. Besides that, The Giving Tree is just about the coolest place in town! Just take a look around, and if you have any questions along the way–please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Giving Tree Preschool
1000 Kentucky Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
(785) 838-3668
[email protected]

Meet Our Teachers

JULIE HAFENSTINE
JULIE HAFENSTINEDirector
Ms. Julie has over 20 years of working experience working with children. Most of her years have been within the early childhood field. She earned her degree from Washburn University in Elementary Education with a concentration in Early Childhood. Julie joined the Giving Tree staff in 2016. She and her husband Mark have two grown children. When not at the Giving Tree, Julie can be found spending time with her family and her dog. She loves being part of our wonderful preschool.
MIKAYLA SWART
MIKAYLA SWARTLead Teacher
Mikayla started her career working with children while attending Eastern New Mexico University. She taught at preschools in New Mexico and Kansas before taking a 9 year break to raise her three children, all Giving Tree Alumni. Mikayla joined the Giving Tree staff in 2015. When not at the happiest place on the planet, Ms. Mikayla enjoys spending time with her husband Greg, and their beautiful children. She is looking forward to an exciting year with lots of new friends.
Sarah Johnson
Sarah JohnsonLead Teacher
Ms. Sarah first started working with children as a Children’s Ministry teacher at her church in 2016. After her daughter attended two years of preschool at The Giving Tree, Sarah started helping out as a substitute teacher. She quickly made many amazing little friends and fell in love with the joyful atmosphere. Ms. Sarah is now teaching a class of her own and looks forward to the giggles and stories the children share with her each day. Sarah graduated from Washburn University with a BBA in marketing. She and her husband Brian, their daughter, and two cats have lived in Lawrence since 2016. She enjoys traveling, reading, and exploring the great outdoors. 
Cathy Ison
Cathy IsonLead Teacher
Ms. Cathy has spent the last 17 years working in early childhood education. She fell in love with teaching young children while volunteering many hours in her children’s preschool classes. She enjoys watching each child’s social, emotional and academic development during the preschool years. Ms. Cathy enjoys spending time with her husband Michael, grown daughter and son, and her dog and grand dog. Her son is a Giving Tree Alumnus. She is excited to be a part of The Giving Tree staff.
AMY JUHL
AMY JUHLLead Teacher
Ms. Amy’s experience working with young children includes over 11 years of teaching preschool and over 20 years volunteering in children’s ministry. She received a BA in Finance and Economics from the University of Illinois and stayed home with her 3 boys until they started school. She and her husband Ted have lived in Lawrence since 1999 and are now enjoying an empty nest. In her spare time, she likes to watch sports, play with her grandkids and eat anything chocolate. What Ms. Amy values most about teaching preschool is building relationships with students and their families. The Giving Tree is a special place where she is happy to educate children both academically and biblically.
Joy Marker
Joy MarkerLead Teacher
Joy began volunteering, working with children at her church in North Carolina when her boys were toddlers, and quickly fell in love with her new tiny human friends. So, after more than seventeen years of working with fully grown humans, moving from North Carolina to Lawrence, Kansas, provided an opportunity for a career change, and Joy became Ms. Joy. Ms. Joy started as a lead teacher with three and four-year olds in 2014. During the 2020-2021 school years, Ms. Joy worked at Giving Tree Preschool, supporting teachers with Covid procedures and as a substitute teacher. She is excited to join the Giving Tree Staff transitioning as a Lead Teacher. When not hanging out with her tiny human friends, Ms. Joy enjoys spending time with her husband, Andrew, their two rapidly growing boys, and a not-so-tiny rescue dog named Rosie.