(406) 777-5443 steviumc@gmail.com
A non-profit center supporting families and children by promoting play-based learning

Mission Statement


“Where We Move Mountains”

At Sapphire Early Learning Center (SELC), we believe in the value and uniqueness of each child we serve. Our childcare experience is designed to promote each child’s own individual social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

We strive to bridge gaps and move mountains.

  • Encouraging and supporting developmentally appropriate learning
  • Building a foundation where children become life-long learners
  • Empowering families through education and opportunities

This mission rose up with a strong foundation and focus as the congregation of Stevensville United Methodist Church lived into its values of community partnership, care and well being for all people, and service grounded in integrity and compassion.

For more information about SELC, enrollment or job opportunties, visit sapphireearlylearningcenter.com or on Facebook.

History of SELC

In January 2020, the people of Stevensville United Methodist Church (SUMC) began exploring ways to serve the community of Stevensville and the Bitterroot Valley by addressing a pressing need. Personal stories coupled with data collected for the state of Montana revealed a gap in early childhood education and after school programming opportunities.

SUMC prides itself on being a “village” for families and children. This community of faith cares for members and visitors with church programming and the more intangibles of mentoring kids during the week, being a safe space that appreciates each child just as they are, and championing the growth and spark of God within. This dedication to kids and families extends to the partnerships offered to Women Infants & Children (WIC), Pantry Partners, Clothes Closet, Stevensville Public Schools, Scouts & 4-H.  Likewise, our current building provides meeting space for small businesses and public forums, a heartbeat of town.

Meanwhile, the Early Childhood Education capacity in Stevensville and the County falls way below the need. A 2019 study from Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services, Early Childhood Services Bureau stated that Ravalli County has the capacity to care for only 35.6% of children and only 29% of infants & toddlers. The population in Stevensville grew in 2019 by 4.65% over a five-year trend, leading us to believe that this growth trend will continue. There is a need for childcare early childhood learning in Stevensville, especially for working and single-parent families.

With vision aligned to a pressing need, SUMC assembled plans, coordinated a team and started a new non-profit to have full oversight of Sapphire Early Learning Center (SELC). First efforts of care and education came in Fall 2020 by providing e-learning to students who chose not to attend in person school. In January 2021, construction began in earnest by demolishing an previous addition in order to build up a new 7500 square foot space with 6 classrooms, a new kitchen, and fellowship hall.

Sept. 7, 2021 SELC opened its doors to students and staff to embark on fulfilling the dream and the need for early childhood education in Stevensville and employment for up to 15 adults. The SELC Board of Directors proudly champions the efforts of SELC staff, parents and children while serving and supporting all community members alike to ensure a safe, holistic, and quality play-based learning environment.