Our Teachers

Shirley Hall, Classroom Teacher

Shirley has been teaching preschoolers for over 30 years with diverse populations. She worked for many years as the Lead Preschool Teacher in the Bellevue School district where she planned and implemented comprehensive preschool programs promoting school readiness through the school districts early learning program. Shirley holds a BA in Early Childhood Education from UW and an AA from Bellevue College in Early Childhood Education. Shirley was previously a teacher at St Marks.

My Philosophy:

Young children have a unique way of looking at the world. I love the energy, excitement and joy they bring to the classroom. In the classroom I encourage children to become independent problem solvers.

Young children learn best in an environment where they are given opportunities to explore materials and have their ideas supported. A child’s play is their way of learning and exploring their world. Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional growth of children. Play allows children to create and explore their world. This leads to enhanced confidence. Children learn to work in groups, to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and learn self-advocacy skills.

“When you asked me what I did in school today and I say “I just played” Please don’t misunderstand me.  For you see, I am learning as I play. I am learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. Today I am a child and my work is play.”

Anita Wadley, 1974 

Kerste Helms, Parent Education Instructor

Kerste truly loves teaching and helping parents and children learn more about themselves, their families and the world.  She has been teaching children for over 20 years and adults for the past five years.  Before having a family of her own, she taught elementary school and coached track at Bellevue High School.  Later Kerste became familiar with Eastgate Co-op Preschool when she enrolled her own children and began attending co-op parent education classes at Bellevue (Community) College (BC).  Kerste has also taught children ages 3-5 at the Creative Development lab (a.k.a. CDL) on the BC campus.

Kerste facilitates our monthly Parent Education classes, which include lecture, discussion, and problem-solving components. Topics are determined by the needs of the parents, but always include normal child development and effective discipline techniques. Parent conferences are offered in the Spring.

Kerste is also available for private, informal consultation.  She is an amazing resource for the parents at ECP.


Kerste Helmes