KIM SHERIDAN CALLING IT A DAY AT
FAUNTLEROY CHILDREN’S CENTER

By Judy Pickens
Kim Sheridan A NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR
FAUNTLEROY CHILDREN’S CENTER
Cara
When the Fauntleroy Children’s Center opened as the Fauntleroy Day Care Center in September 1978, Kim Seaman Sheridan wasn’t there to welcome the eight children as they entered a room at Fauntleroy Church.

But she was there the following year as a teacher and she has been there every year since as the center’s director, welcoming nearly 5,000 infants and children over her 42 years of service.

Come January 1, Kim will begin the next chapter of her life - one not so abundantly populated with children.

She sees a change in directors as a plus for the center, enabling new leadership to run with new ideas. Also, she said, “After 42 years, it’s time to be home.”

Kim came to Seattle in 1978 with a degree in psychology and a specialty in child development. Her first job was teaching at a center that she soon realized was not good for children. She started substituting in the fledging program in Fauntleroy, which led to her being hired as a teacher in the spring of 1979.. When the first director moved on, Kim filled in on an interim basis and the board made it permanent in the fall of 1980.

The founding members of the Fauntleroy Community Service Agency board were concerned that the young families who were revitalizing the neighborhood were sorely in need of all-day childcare. Church members shared their concern and offered space if the board could get a program off the ground.

“It was that care about filling a community need and how involved all the volunteers were,” she recalled. “They worked for no money and went to any extreme needed to make sure the center thrived.”

In the beginning, it served ages 2 1/2 to 5 years. By 1980, the center was serving a wider age range and required more room than the church could provide. It operated with a waiting list until Fauntleroy School closed in the summer 1981.

Over the summer, the board negotiated a lease with the school district, enabling the center to open in the fall across the street with lots of indoor and outdoor space. Kim guided board and staff members through expansions and enrichments to serve infants through 12 years of age.

In 2007, the school district declared the schoolhouse to be surplus. Thanks to state and city appropriations, the board was able to meet community needs by buying the building and attracting tenants to help pay the bills.

An accomplishment that continues to be a source of pride to all involved is accreditation by the National Association for Education of Young Children in 1987. The center remains the only childcare program in West Seattle to be so recognized.

Investing an entire career in one job is unusual these days but “to be insanely devoted,” as Kim put it, is the work ethic she learned growing up.

“The people here kept encouraging me to keep trying and they were always there to support us in the belief that kids deserve the very best in whatever sort of environment they’re in,” she said. “We’ve all wanted to keep meeting the needs of our families as they changed over the years.”

Many on the center’s staff mirror her commitment. Assistant Director Debbie Robbins, for instance, was one of the two teachers that the center intially hired, in 1978. Gerry Cunningham recently retired after 24 years.

“People here have a good feeling when they walk in every day,” Kim said. “there’s a love for the school building itself. People feel a sense of caring and family. Our teachers have never lost that spark, that enthusiasm to be helpful and to create a curriculum built around the children.”

While maximum enrollment during the pandemic has been just 75, Kim’s priorities have been keeping all the staff employed and restoring enrollment as soon as possible. Center capacity is 120 children served by 28 teachers and assistant teachers, plus administrative staff.

“I’m working my way through the usual things for this time of year and anticipating changes to our state licensing that will require more of teachers and the director,” she said. “I’m doing what I can to make things easier for when the new person comes on board.”

She intends to leave everything in order for a new director. The closure of many area childcare programs as a result of the pandemic means a large pool of talent is out there.

Kim’s parting words: “It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to work with this board, these teachers, these families, this community. So many people have touched my life in ways that I can’t even describe. The friendships are what made it possible to do what I’ve done.”
Dear FCC families/staff,

We are thrilled to share with you that Cara Anderson-Ahrens will be joining FCC/FCSA as our new Executive Director starting this Wednesday, December 9th.

Cara was most recently a regional director with Kids Country Early Learning Centers, overseeing five childcare centers north of Seattle. Before that, she spent eight years with Sweet Pea Cottage in various leadership roles, including opening and leading the preschool’s West Seattle branch. An interesting bit of shared history: when it opened in 2010, Sweet Pea Cottage was located for a short time in the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse. Cara shared that she remembered her preschoolers participating in trick-or-treating with the FCC classrooms, and her memories of the warm and welcoming community within the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse was a factor in her pursuing this role. Cara has also worked for the Seattle World School and the Southern Sudanese Community of Washington, supporting children of immigrant and refugee families in the Seattle area. She holds dual master’s of education degrees in Education Administration and Curriculum Development from Seattle University and bachelor’s degrees in Education and Theater from Indiana University.

For the past 40 years, Kim Sheridan has led our organization with dedication, warmth, and a true passion for her work. We believe that in Cara, we have found a worthy successor. Cara and Kim will transition leadership duties through December, as we count down to Kim’s retirement at the end of the year. Along with changeover activities, we will also be planning some recognition events to honor Kim. Stay tuned for more on this soon!

Thank you in advance for your patience and assistance as, amid this pandemic, we move through this transition in leadership.

These are challenging times, but we will persevere. With Cara’s new energy and Kim’s strong legacy, we have much to celebrate, and I am confident that Fauntleroy Children’s Center and the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse have a very bright future.

Cheers,

Kirsty Grainger & the FCSA Board



Here is a short note from Cara:

I am thrilled to be joining FCC/FCSA as Executive Director. I believe that early education is foundational. It is where we build our first friendships and a lifelong love of learning. My family and I will enjoy meeting you and are looking forward to becoming a part of this community. I am a native of Nebraska, a member of the Seattle Women’s Chorus, a member of the acapella ensemble the Supertonics, and a former roller derby girl. My husband Matt and I have an eight year old son who loves to sing too and enjoy sharing a house with Matt’s mom. What a joyous season to come aboard!