[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]

So much emotion wrapped around our eviction from the Annex – lots of questions, hurt, anger, dismay.

Burien Co-op Preschool (BCP) has been at the Annex 25 years, and in Burien for over 65 years.

It may seem like no big deal. After all, we are “just a preschool.”

Let me tell you a little about BCP…

We have never been “just a preschool.”

Families have come from as far away as Sedro Wooley and Olympia to be a part of this school.

Children regularly return over the years to see this old familiar space that meant so much to them. Today Children are bringing their children to this place.

Children here don’t come to just sit at neat little tables with crayons, blocks and playdough. Oh no!

A typical day here would include any number of the following:

    • Unlimited cans of shaving cream
    • Gallons of paint to pour
    • Tubs of cornstarch to make potions
    • Five different kinds of swings
    • A treehouse, four lofts, three slides, playhouse, climbing walls.
    • Marble runs that take up an entire classroom, floor to ceiling.
    • Gallons of slime.
    • 200 rolls of toilet paper….yep
    • 200 pounds if dry ice
    • Woodworking, pottery wheel
    • A real running river
    • Multiple hoses to create oceans in our sandboxes
    • Dissecting a squid, hatching praying mantis
    • A swimming pool filled with water beads
    • Outdoor dinosaur land
    • A floor to ceiling rocket ship with real control panels
    • An entire room empties, pads and taro’s laid down and 400 cans of shaving cream….add a slide and oh boy!
    • A pizza shop, sandwich shop, doctors office, pet store, beauty shop etc etc etc
    • Area to create anything you can dream of using glue, nails, tape and myriads of loose parts
    • Mud, sand, water, rocks and sticks
    • And if so very much, much more.
    • Four rooms, two outdoor play spaces that have been lovingly created over the course of 25 years to perfection.

Teaching for over 30 years you have stories. Working with three to five year olds has been my joy and privilege for all these years at BCP. I am lucky enough to be in touch with many of my “kids”, now young adults. I have seen them grow into amazing, confident, talented, contributing members of this community. They say you need a strong foundation. That’s what I like to think we do here. Children leave BCP with an archive of real experiences to attach all further learning to; that allows them to make sense of reading, writing, math and science. I read once from a professor at Harvard that students today have a harder time understanding how the heart works like a pump. He thinks it’s because kids haven’t had opportunities in childhood to play with hoses and water That’s what we do…we give them hoses, a real hand pump and as many gallons of water as they need to understand. We are, essentially, a pre-med class. Children need time, real experiences, real materials, too much, and opportunities to tinker over and over again.

Next what comes out from BCP are the adult leaders who have spent five six ten years with us…they go out and carry on in our community classrooms. They are the room mothers, PTA presidents, aides, paraprofessionals, volunteers that keep our schools going. In my experience many move on to become educators themselves. It’s a beautiful partnership.

I have stories..oh so many…I could write a book! Here are a few of my favorite from our time here in the Annex:

    • The day one little boy, highly interested in what makes things go (kaboom) asked me where I kept the gasoline and explosives.
    • Or the little girl who came to school every day with her stuffed seal who grew up to be a marine biologist working right here in our waters. “Sealy” has been seen perched on the bows of her research ships the world over.
    • One little guy came to school often dressed in makeshift costumes, using items found in his Mama’s cupboards and closets. one day he came with oversized rubber gloves and boots and squeegee…he wanted to be a window washer. Another day he came in a scuba diving getup and asked me to get him a diving tank so he could test his gear.
    • Or the little autistic girl who never spoke in class until the day we went outside to fly homemade kites and I sang ‘lets go fly a kite’, whereby she began to sing along and sparked with life. apparently she was an avid fan of Mary Poppins.
    • Or the time I set out a barber shop complete with a pretend razor and real shaving cream. Imagine my surprise to see a little boy sit right down, pull up his pants leg, squirt on a pile of shaving cream and proceed to shave his legs. He came from a family of all girls.
    • Or the little guy who walked in with a long sheet of paper filled with intricate three year old lines and squares and exes. It was a model of a trap and he came to school that day with every intention of building it. My job? Just get him whatever he needed to see it through. He did it. It ended in a pile of glue about three feet round, because remember, kids need too much…that kid is an engineer today.
    • Or the hero who, at forest school, jumped into the creek to save his classmate who had stumbled and fallen. It was only 8 inches of water, but we stood by in awe as he reacted like a real hero..caring for his friend above all else.

That’s how we do things here. Every single day for 25 years.

They are just little stories, but when you think about it, they are powerful stories.

This city is losing a beloved institution.

Six teachers, 1000’s of sweet children, 100’s of volunteers, 6 guinea pigs, 2 rabbits, 4 lizards, 2 chickens, a rat, a fish.

You see, we have never been “just a preschool.”

The Halls are silent now, except for the screech of the packing tape gun…but if these walls could talk…

– Teacher Gloria Witters
Burien Co-op Preschool

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have something you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to [email protected] and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full names and cite sources – as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes).