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 retired in June 2019 but she will stay here on this page indefinitely because she is a pillar of Loving Space School. She helped make our school what it is and we will be forever grateful to her for  22 years of dedicated, loving, playful teaching.

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!”

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

Rae Hemmen (Preschool teacher)

Rae has been at Loving Space her whole life. Rae is Abby and Chris’s daughter and has many fun memories of growing up in this special community. One of these memories is from when she was four and she and another preschooler sat in the quiet room “doing Sherry’s hair” to get her ready for her first date with Jon, now Sherry’s husband! Rae started subbing at Loving Space in 2016 jumping in to help whoever needed. Now Rae works with us at least a few days a week bringing her love of reading stories, blowing bubbles and delight in outdoor adventures! Rae’s favorite part of the Loving Space philosophy is the emphasis on being able to really be you. When she’s not at work you can find Rae quilting or walking her dog Zuko in the woods. Her favorite kids book is Mud Puddle by Robert Munch.

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.

Summer MacGregor (Preschool teacher)

Summer started working at Loving Space in 2020 after the Montessori School she worked at closed due to COVID. Summer loves kids! “I love how they say exactly what they’re thinking.” She is enjoying experiencing the Loving Space philosophy and the focus on play and creativity. “The kids have so much freedom here!”

Her favorite place to play at the school is the Quiet Room; reading stories and helping the kids care for the school pets, especially the hamster Millie.

When Summer isn’t at school you can find her enjoying walks with her dog Frodo, creating art and spending time with friends.

Summer’s favorite ice cream is Vanilla and her words to live by are “Just breathe.”

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