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A Sense of Place

In February 1997 I crossed the threshold into the basement of Mcwhinnie Cottage at Kodiak Baptist Mission, eyes sparkling with anticipation. As a newly minted elementary education graduate, my dreams and ideals for a preschool guided my steps into the lower half of a large, green house previously us

ed as a residential treatment home. Spiders, dirt, and a moldy smell did not deter me. The cracked and peeling paint on the walls did not deter me.A heavy, full-sized pool table provided an obstacle I was not expecting but it also did not deter me. Soon enough the pool table found a new home, the walls were painted and covered in cute prints and the spiders, dust, and mold were eliminated. Everything sparkled, new and used age-appropriate materials filled the space, and Sonshine Patch Christian Preschool welcomed five tiny humans as its first class.

Sonshine stayed at McWhinnie Cottage for a year. It became a licensed childcare facility in its second year, removed its Patch,and was housed in the basement of Community Baptist Church. The next year Sonshine Christian Preschool moved back to the Kodiak Baptist Mission, into a yellow building that was a thrift store called The Sale House.

In January 2022, I crossed the threshold of that same yellow building with a bit more experience and education, ready to teach in the Kodiak Compass Classroom; a play-based, child-led classroom guided by brain research, developmentally appropriate practice, and inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to education.

Sonshine has engaged many different teachers, students, and parents over the past 26 years. It has changed its décor, materials, and its approach. The one thing that has remained is serving families in the name of Christ since KBMwas founded in 1893. My motto for many years has been Wander often, wonder always. I wonder about the sense of place we experience. The end of every school year is always hard. All year my students and I grow into a little community of

learners that care deeply about each other. I enjoy getting to know them and their families. This year was especially hard as I knew it was my last year teaching in this manner and in the yellow building. The Reggio Emilia approach views the environment as the third teacher. This truly was my favorite environment we had created. I am at home in this classroom. As I turned off the lights for the last time in the yellow building that was Sonshine Christian Preschool tears welled up in my eyes and my heart was full as I was holding on to the past and reaching for the future. My sense of place and all the emotions of being at home in the classroom continues with me. The Kodiak Compass Classroom may not currently have a physical place but the opportunity to explore and discover will continue through many new and exciting avenues. I am stepping into a whole new place, eyes sparkling with anticipation. Stay tuned!

The yellow building has also come full circle…it will again be a thrift store. A Special Finds resale boutique has moved in!

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