Our Story

Fun Ship
Children
's Center

Our Story

When Deidre was a child, she lived on a ranch in northeastern New Mexico in a mostly cattle ranching community. She spent a lot of time with her grandmother who taught her how to sew, cook, bake bread, make jelly, garden, and much more. 

One of her fondest memories is picking plums with her grandmother when she was young. Her grandmother lived in town and would take her and her brother to a remote ranch to pick plums or peaches or whatever was in season. Grandma would stand on the ground and direct Deidre and her brother to fruit she could see, saying, “Go higher.” 

After picking a bushel or two, they would go back to Grandma’s house and make plum jam. Yum! It is these fond memories of Deidre’s that shape Fun Ship with the vegetable garden and fruit trees on campus as well as the encouragement for learning.
Steve and Deidre Nordel have owned Fun Ship Children’s Center since October 2014. They started in the preschool business when some good friends from Boy Scouts were looking for partners to expand their preschool. Their first school was in Simi Valley, re-making a closed Children’s World facility, which they operated for seven years and then sold. Steve and Deidre also owned a part of a school in Redondo Beach for about one year.

After selling the Simi Valley school, the Nordels found and purchased Fun Ship Children’s Center in October of 2014, all on their own. 

“We are so happy to be able to be a big part of the Hawthorne area and to make a lasting difference in the lives of the children who attend our preschool.”

About the Nordels
By Deidre Nordel

When Steve and I were juniors in high school, we both won a contest. I wrote an essay in New Mexico and Steve wrote an essay and gave a speech in Northern California. The contest was sponsored by the OOD Fellows and Rebekahs and the theme was “The United Nations: What It Means To Me.” The prize was a trip by bus to New York to visit the United Nations for a week. The bus started in northern California and headed south, picking up kids along the way: 24 in California (and Steve), 3 in Arizona, and 4 (including me) in New Mexico.
From the very first day, Steve and I were always together. I think I was the only girl that knew how to play chess (he insists he asked me to play something else that rhymes with chess). We had similar dreams and goals: most immediately, we both wanted to go to a military academy and serve our country.
We spent one month together after which Steve absolutely KNEW he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I, on the other hand, was skeptical that anyone could know enough about a person in one month to be so sure it would last a lifetime. After 30 years of marriage (37 of knowing each other), I guess he was right.
After that amazing month, we went back to our hometowns – Clayton, NM for me and Sonoma, CA for Steve – and finished high school. Steve went on to the Naval Academy and I went to New Mexico State University. Military Academy students are prohibited from getting married so we had to wait until he graduated. (Steve jokes that they always said that if they wanted the midshipmen to get married, they would have issued them a wife/husband.)
During our freshman year in college, Steve came to visit me at Christmas. He was so impressed with the Christmas tree and the presents that went three feet out and all the way around it – he loved my big family. He grew up as an only child of a single mom so there were only two gifts under their tree every year. With my three sisters, one brother, mom and dad, as well as aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandmother, there were countless presents under our tree. He loved being included in our raucous family and, 35+ years later, it still brings tears to his eyes when he thinks about it.
When Steve graduated, I had two years left before I finished my degree in physics. He insisted that I graduate before we got married, so we waited another two years and were married seven years after we met. That was 30+ years ago, four kids, and five different places we have lived! Wow!
It has been an amazing, wild ride together. We have lived in San Diego, Monterey (CA), southern Maryland (PAX River), Chantilly, VA, and now Torrance, CA. We have four children and four grandchildren who, sadly, live in Illinois (with our only daughter). I constantly remember something Zig Ziglar once said: “Do you know what the difference is between a good marriage and a bad marriage? Commitment!” That’s it! And that is the secret to our success (plus I laugh at all his jokes)! We both look forward to our future adventures together.
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