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Gridley Herald

Popular Preschool Teachers Retire

May 31, 2024 12:00PM ● By Seti Long, photos by Seti Long

Tinker Storm, left, and Sue Orme say goodbye after years of teaching preschool at Westside Preschool, which held its last graduation.


GRIDLEY, CA (MPG) - As the school year came to a close for the Westside Preschool Class of 2024, so did a 39-year teaching saga for Sue Orme and her teaching partner of 30 years, Tinker Storm.

The two are retiring after an amazing run wrangling 3-and 4-year-olds at their preschool in Gridley.

Orme started Westside Preschool in her home and years later was joined by Storm. The two formed a bond not only between themselves but their students, leaving a mark on almost every one of them.


Sue Orme pictured with one of her first students, Christy Santillan, left, and her son, Alonzo Santillan, who graduated this year from Westside Preschool’s last class. 


Sue’s husband, Mark Orme, says his wife can’t go out into public without running into a friendly face. He shares his belief that his wife and Storm are “cut from the same cloth” and are fully dedicated to the children they work with. “They really love these kids,” he said.

Orme is a very special person to a lot of families in town. Her husband shares that his wife is somewhat of a “child whisperer.” She has the ability to calm some of the crankiest children down. He told the Herald that Orme could get a loose tooth to fall out painlessly and that has brought countless loose-toothed children to their door. The preschool teacher reportedly makes the best peanut-butter and jelly sandwich around.

“She’s just magical,” said daughter, Hailey Peck.

The teachers and school were so popular that there was a three-year waiting list to get in. Many times, expecting mothers would call to get their child on the list, hoping that there would be a slot open by the time their children were old enough for the 3-year-old class.

At the Westside Preschool graduation ceremonies May 21, an emotional Orme said, “I’ve had a lot of beginnings, a lot of firsts, a lot of never-happened-before (not a lot of lasts). All year long, it’s been ‘this is our last Halloween, our last Christmas, our last…’” She counted down the holidays to graduation, reminiscing over the last year and the wonderful times that they had experienced as a class.

Orme thanked Storm, laughing about how Storm was “the fun one” and how she often had to settle her and the children down. She thanked Storm for all the joy she brought to the classroom. Always vibrant and full of energy, Storm is loved by her students. “I couldn’t ask for a better helper for 30 years,” said Orme.

Both Orme and Storm told the Herald there had been times they considered retirement but committed to waiting until the youngest child of one of their very first students could attend and graduate. They fulfilled that commitment this year.

Orme and Storm expressed that they were going to miss teaching tremendously.

Many in the community know Orme and Storm. Based on class size and the years they have been teaching, it is estimated that more than 1,000 students have passed through Westside Preschool.

Alumni and family of Westside Preschool are invited to an open house to celebrate the retirement of the two teachers. It will be held at West Side Preschool from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 4.

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