Abby Franklin (Loving Space owner and Kindergarten teacher)
Abby started Loving Space Preschool in 1993 and the Kindergarten in 2001, because she wanted to create an environment for kids that was hospitable, healthy, and especially, fun. “So many of the places I substitute-taught were so NOT that way,” she explains. “I wanted to provide a place that celebrated the joy of childhood, that provided a creative outlet, healthy food, healthy activities — with enough adults around to make sure that kids got what they needed.”
Abby thinks great ideas are her most important gifts to Loving Space. “I have a lot of ideas,” she laughs, “ and I think I bring a great deal of passion to my work. I feel so lucky that my dreams are not only coming true with the school — they’re being surpassed. Every year just gets better and better.”
When she’s not teaching, Abby loves to read, walk her dog, go to movies, and spend time with her family: husband Chris and kids, Leo, Rae and grandson Francis.
Her favorite quote? “A little nonsense now and then – relished by the wisest men.”
– Willy Wonka
Erin Merenda (Kindergarten teacher)
A Bellingham native, Erin has been at Loving Space since 1995, with a couple of breaks for some world traveling. “I took a year and a half off to travel to 15 countries,” she explains. “When I left I wasn’t sure what my plans would be — whether I would come back to work, or maybe stay in any one of those countries.” But she found that being away made her realize how much she wanted to be at Loving Space. “I found I needed this place in my life — that what I was doing for these kids, and what they were doing for me, was so important to me. I feel I’ve learned more during my time at Loving Space than I have in any other school situation I’ve ever been in.”
Erin brings a great sense of humor, endless patience, and loads of creativity to Loving Space. “I think I’m a good friend to the kids,” she says. “I see myself as a playmate, a friend, and a facilitator to them.”
Has she cured the travel bug? “No way!” Erin protests. “I mostly visited the Southern Hemisphere that time. Now I need to do the Northern!” The only difference next time is that she’d like to travel with her family.
Carrie Voorhees (Kindergarten teacher)
Carrie has been involved in the fun here at Loving Space in one way or another since her son began preschool here in 2010. Her first big project was creating the magical mural in the loft room at the preschool. Carrie’s art can also be found in the quiet room, the hallway, and the bike area. By the time she joined the teaching staff in 2017, she’d done almost every other job in the school as well, from cleaning to gardening to classroom helper. Her son and daughter grew up at Loving Space, and Carrie feels that she did too, “I’ve learned so much being a fly on this wall!” She’s thrilled to be on staff here. “Thank you, Loving Space, for holding a space in our lives where kindness is the rule!” In addition to “Be Kind, Work Hard, and Be You,” Carrie loves circling up on the carpet, dance parties, swing pushing, book reading, and encouraging students to be their best selves. “They bring out my best self too. Kindness works.” When she’s not at school, Carrie loves to explore the woods and beaches. She’s really interested in bugs and birds and keeps an expired woodpecker and an owl she found in her freezer at home. Last summer, Carrie and her kids found a coastal salamander and a rough skinned newt on their adventures.
This is June! She’s an English Cream Retriever who works in the kindergarten with us. June is gentle, playful and brings a lot of joy to all of us at school. She greets everyone at the gate with a wagging tail looking for love and treats. The children are helping us train June to be an official therapy dog.