Sunset Mesa Schools’ first year was 1948.
It was founded by Mrs. Beatrice Adkins, a kindergarten teacher and former principal from Ohio who had relatives living in Albuquerque. It was the first kindergarten school in Albuquerque. Mrs. Adkins named the school Sunset Mesa Day School. She enrolled children 4-6 years of age. Kindergarten age children were placed in a junior or senior kindergarten class depending on their developmental readiness. This was likely the first concept for the PreFirst class at Sunset Mesa Schools! Mrs. Adkins was progressive for her time. She was a passionate educator and very specific about her expectations for and responsibilities to, the children who attended Sunset Mesa Day School. The original location of Sunset Mesa Day School was at the intersection of Girard Blvd and Lomas near the University of New Mexico. When Mrs. Adkins sold Sunset Mesa Day School, she had 100+ students and classes for children 4 years old through 3rd grade.
In 1959, Sunset Mesa Schools was sold to Truett and Eulene Sheriff.
Mrs. Sheriff was a wonderful educator who was a specialist in Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Sheriff’s commitment to the education of young children prompted a strong initiative with three and four year olds. She developed a serious learning program appropriate for that age group. The combination of the already established Kindergarten program and the Early Childhood initiative resulted in numerical growth sufficient to require more space than was available in the original location.
In 1962, Sunset Mesa Schools moved to the present site of the North Campus at 3020 Morris NE.
The primary emphasis of the school through the sixties continued to be Early Childhood and Kindergarten. By 1970, Sunset Mesa Schools had added a 4th grade, expanding the primary grades through fourth.
In 1975, John and Wynona Ratliff purchased the school from the Sheriff family.
At the time of the purchase, the Ratliff’s made the decision to shift the focus of Sunset Mesa Schools to the primary grades, first through fifth grades. The Early Childhood and Kindergarten programs had a solid foundation.
In addition to building a strong curricular program, Sunset Mesa Schools emphasized six enrichment classes for children since the early 1970’s. These are: library, computer (the first computer program in an elementary school in Albuquerque,) art, Spanish, music and physical education.
In 1985, Sunset Mesa Schools purchased the Albuquerque Montessori School, thereby providing parents with a choice of programs for their preschool child.
Additional buildings were added in 1979, 1981, 1992, 1993 and 2000, for a total of 37,000 square feet of instructional and administrative space.
In 1998, Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff retired.
Their daughter, Deborah Mask, and her husband, Alan, became the directors of Sunset Mesa Schools.
In 2003, a new campus was opened to the south of the current campus.
This 12,000 sq. ft. facility is dedicated to the education of preschool children.
Both campuses continue to operate under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Mask. The South Campus has a full time director, Mrs. Mary Helen Jordan. Mrs. Jordan has been at Sunset Mesa Schools for over 20 years. She has taught in the Early Childhood program, the Montessori program, PreFirst and First Grade prior to becoming the administrator of the South Campus.
The North Campus program, led by the Principal, Mrs. Michelle Clark, provides instruction for children Kindergarten through Fifth grade. Mrs. Clark taught second grade at Sunset Mesa before becoming the principal in 1999.
Sunset Mesa continues to provide students in the Albuquerque area a strong academic foundation in an environment that challenges students to think and act independently, develop strong study habits and think critically. Sunset Mesa encourages students to be productive, responsible and caring by learning sound values, compassion and ethical behavior. It is the purpose of Sunset Mesa to give children a strong foundation on which to build their future educational and life experiences—an investment that will pay interest for a lifetime.