Preschool Staff

Sherry Helde (Preschool director)

Sherry admits that she loved the atmosphere at Loving Space so much that she spent 6 months lobbying to get a job here. She thinks they finally hired her because she said she would always answer the phones, which seemed to ring constantly whenever she came by. She’s been at the school since 2000 and believes that along with understanding and compassion, she brings a nice sense of balance to her work. “Some teachers have their niches, but I get to do a little of everything,” she says, “and I like that.”

Sherry spent 7 years teaching swimming before she came to Loving Space, and she still likes to swim in her off time, as well as go for walks and just hang out with her friends and family. Her favorite part about being at the school is arriving to all the kids’ enthusiastic welcomes. “Their love is just so pure and real,” she says. “The honesty of their emotions is really joyful – whether they’re happy or sad.”

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Rosie Gehring (Preschool teacher)

Rosie has been presiding over the quiet room at Loving Space Preschool since 1999, sharing her nurturing presence, gentle sense of humor, and especially her love of books. She feels she gets as much from her kids as they get from her. “I have a long commute to school,” she says, “so sometimes I’m in a bit of a stressed out mood when I get here. Even so, it never takes long before all the love and laughter from the kids turns me right around.”

Rosie’s favorite part of working with the children at Loving Space is seeing them beginning to reflect behaviors and values that she’s modeled for them. “When you see something, some lesson, that you’ve taught them starting to come back – that you’ve touched their life in some way – there’s a lot of joy in that.”

Someday Rosie would like to retire and live near Tenaskit, WA, in the north Cascades. “I’d like to just live on the land – it’s so beautiful up there,” she says. Rosie’s favorite quote is from William Blake: “No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.”

Kristan Brennan (Preschool teacher)

Kristan joined Loving Space in 2006 after her son attended preschool and kindergarten there, and then shared that experience with her second son. She explains why the school is so special. “We give them space to practice their life skills, to learn to get along. Loving Space kids really benefit from the open, accepting, and loving environment here.” Watching the kids develop is one of her favorite things about working at Loving Space. She loves seeing the change in them and hearing the funny things they say.

Kristan likes to cook and bake (over 25 wedding cakes to date!) and brings her skills to work, where she cooks with the kids and lets them help at snack time. She likes the way it gives them that “Hey, I can do that!” feeling. Fittingly, her favorite book is “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. “That’s my motto,” she laughs. “Try it and you’ll like it!”

Fall is Kristan’s favorite time of year. She loves welcoming the returning students and getting to know the new ones. She loves listening to her son play the cello and her husband play the guitar. She enjoys knitting, felting, traveling (favorite place: the beach), biking, snowboarding, and hanging out with her family and dogs.

Emily Katzenberg (Preschool teacher)

Emily has worked at Loving Space since 2005, but the term “the Loving Space family” has a literal meaning for her since her brother-in-law worked here for years and her nephews and niece all attended school here over the past decade. Emily likes everything about her job, especially the people she works with. She particularly enjoys being creative: “I love making art with the kids – that’s my thing.” Fall is her favorite season of the school year because she says it has the very best crafts.

When she’s not making art, Emily loves making soup, drinking coffee, and playing cards. She’s fond of White Russian ice cream from Mallard. She also loves movies, especially those from Wes Anderson or the Coen brothers. Her favorite children’s books are those by Roald Dahl.

On a day off, you’ll find Emily with her toddler son out walking their dogs around the neighborhood. She also enjoys traveling to beaches and cities. Her motto is: “Be excellent to each other and party on!” –Bill and Ted

Ciaran Seward (Preschool teacher)

Getting a job at Loving Space was a matter of serendipity for Ciaran, who was looking for work at a preschool in 2011 and happened upon an opening at Loving Space. She’s so happy to have ended up here. “Loving Space focuses on the things I value,” she says. “And I love the kids!” Ciaran has always enjoyed being around children: “I started babysitting when I was twelve,” she says. “I even went to a babysitter school.”

Her favorite time of the school year is Spring! It feels like we’re about to stretch our wings because we’ve gotten comfortable as a group and are able to take the fun outside.”

Baking and bicycling are a couple of her hobbies. She also likes to garden, swim, bike, craft (she’s working on an old T-shirt rug using a hula hoop she made into a loom), and spend time with people she loves. Her favorite ice cream changes weekly but at interview time, she was into Honey Assam.

She loves to sing and dance, and just began taking bass guitar and drum lessons. A Bellingham native, her favorite places to visit are Larrabee State Park, Pixie Falls, anywhere her mom is, and any place new!

Chris Hemmen (Preschool teacher )

Chris met Abby in 1993, just three months after she open Loving Space. Over 20 years later it’s clear that Loving Space keeps bringing them together. “I love that Abby and I have more to share,” says Chris after taking an active role at the school in 2014. “I’m so glad to become part of Loving Space. I’m no longer on the outside looking in.” Chris has worked in elder care for 25 years and is a restorative  therapist and event coordinator at Shuksan Care Center.  he enjoys how fearless both children and the elderly are about their opinions and what they want to do. Loving Spaces has taught him how  little adult guidance is truly necessary. “It’s amazing to watch  what happens naturally when we get out of the way.” Chris brings a lot of humor and creative support to the team. You might see him driving his red Chevy filled with holiday trees or swimming pools or hula hoops for the school. Outside of being with cool people at work Chrissy enjoys hanging out with family and friends golfing and disc golfing. His favorite ice cream? Coffee

Kelli Whitener (Preachool teacher)

Kelli  first heard about Loving Space when Abby spoke in an early childhood class. “It was my dream to work here!” It was also a perfect fit. In 2001 Kelli‘s dream came true. “It’s just so fun to be a kid again, to see the world through kids eyes. I don’t ever have to grow up!” Kelli is always ready to jump into the action and lead a game or activity with grace, calm, and childlike joy. She loves getting in depth with big projects and likes to make stuff with the kids, like playdo and potions. Look for Kelli in the big room because it’s her favorite spot at school, the room that gets messy and allows Kelli to be the calm inside the creative storm. Kelli and her husband Just bought a new house and they’re looking forward to putting in a giant garden with the help of their kids Violet, Addy, and Carson. She enjoys picking, canning, and preserving fruit, day excursions with the kids, camping, swimming and spending time with friends. And she she has loved  butter pecan ice cream since she was a kid.

Sandy Sewell (Preschool teacher)

Sandy has been involved with Loving Space for many years in many ways. She has two sons, Kaden and Carter both alumni of the preschool and Kindy. She has been a regular volunteer at the Kindy since 2011, she is the President of the board for PLLAY and she’s literally part of the family, Chris Hemmen is her brother! Sandy started subbing at the preschool in 2016. Her favorite space to play is the big room. She says “Every kid is a grown-up waiting to happen. It’s interesting to see where they’re starting.” Family is important to Sandy, I’m obsessed  with my children! She loves playing board games with the kids and her husband Ryan and watching her boys play sports. “Parenting is the hardest and the best thing you could ever do.” Loving Space  has taught Sandy the importance of supporting children for who they are as individuals. She says what she loves the most about Loving Space is how respect for everyone is so highly valued. “Everybody gets to be who they are!”  Sandy brings a kind, curious and fun spirit to her teaching. Her favorite words to live by are “Be kind.” You’re most likely to  find her engaged with a group of kids working on a project or asking questions about a problem. Guiding kids through their difficulties in a way that supports them to figure it out themselves is one of her superpowers.”I get to be an emotional detective everyday”

Lisa Spreyer (Preschool teacher)

“I do like to play,” says Lisa Spreyer with a smile. Lisa started working in the Kindergarten as a parent helper with her son Owen, then quickly became a member of the Loving Space teaching team in 2015. Lisa is passionate about learning and has a deep respect for childhood. “I love the authenticity and candor of children. They really know how to follow their interests. It’s a great lesson to be around.” Lisa always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She holds a degree in sociology and taught in the ESL program at Skagit Valley College for 12 years before landing at Loving Space. In her spare time Lisa enjoys being “artsy and crafty,” she loves to cook and experiment with lots of different healthy recipes, and enjoys games and puzzles. She also enjoys volunteering with PLLAY and is thrilled to help take the joy of Loving Space into the community. Her favorite ice creams are the coconut ice and the lemon mint ice at Mallards. Her words to live by: “It’s all good.”

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