Tyee Site Welcomes Early Learning into its Halls

Child playing with play-do while at ESD 113

Sometimes it’s good to have a reminder of why you do the things you do. The ESD had such a reminder right in the offices of the Tyee Site for why everyone puts in the work they do: the kids.

For two months, ESD 113 housed two Early Learning classes within its halls. They were displaced from their usual space at South Puget Sound Community College when it flooded right as the school year was about to begin.

New school years are supposed to be a time to get acclimated and set routines for the rest of the year. Instead, the damages forced them to immediately shift to finding a place for in-person learning.

The makeshift Early Learning classroom in the Nisqually Room at the Tyee Site
The Nisqually Room at the Tyee Site served as the classroom for Early Learning students and teachers.

“At Head Start, we’re forever changing,” Center Director Angie Kallas says. “We have to thank the ESD for having a space for us because we thought we were going to have to go into remote learning, and we know that’s not best for preschoolers.”

Kallas says things worked out smoothly once they knew where they were going. The staff has gotten very used to change over the past few years.

“We have many seasoned teachers in our program, so they’re used to pivoting pretty quickly,” notes Kallas. “We’re used to change. COVID had us change.”

They also had new teachers joining who had never stepped foot in the SPSCC classroom. Amy Stevens was one such person, having just joined the Early Learning team in mid-October.

“I was told about the flooding during the hiring process and was bummed to hear that the kids weren’t able to start off in person,” remarked Stevens. “It was nice to hear they would have a place at the ESD. Since I was new coming into the team and not having had the opportunity to be at the other center, I felt I adapted well to the change.”

They held their makeshift classroom in the Nisqually Room.

Kallas and Stevens noted how grateful they were for the ESD’s accommodations. Having space in the conference rooms for their building study and a makeshift playground for outdoor activities kept the kids active.

Three students play in boxes during the Early Learning Building Study
Three students play in boxes during the Early Learning Building Study

“It was also really nice to see the excitement of other Tyee staff having children in the building,” added Stevens.

There were still challenges in being in an unfamiliar environment focused on holding conferences instead of classrooms.

Both Kallas and Stevens said the biggest of those challenges was the bathrooms. Working between the teachers’ break schedules, the need for class supervision, and escorting kids needing to use the bathroom was a bit more challenging to work around without their dedicated facilities.

Kallas also noted they missed their windows in the classroom, and Stevens mentioned that they stayed away from some of their “messier” lessons since the space wasn’t theirs.

“I think we all appreciated that Tyee made it possible for the kids to have in-person learning,” said Stevens. “Everyone was very accommodating to what we needed and did their best to make everything work.”

“I just want to thank ESD [113] for opening up and emptying out a room for us,” said Kallas. “True North, they’re the ones that gave us that classroom. Facilities to get a makeshift playground for us to go outside. When we needed something, everybody was right there. We are loved here, we feel it, and it is very appreciated.”

Sound to Harbor has since left the Tyee site and is awaiting the final repairs to their space at SPSCC.

Children in Early Learning classroom work with various objects while one faces camera
Children in Early Learning classroom work with various objects.