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Mt Edgecumbe Preschool Team

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Kate Johnson


I bring songs and stories to the children of Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool. Often I start the day with our students singing songs and end the day with them bundled up for outside play.


My background in early childhood education started in 1998. After a couple years of studying psychology I discovered playing & doing projects with children was much more fun than studying their behavior. From that point I completed my degree from University of Alaska Anchorage in Early Childhood Education. I have been working and playing with young children since. 


Outside preschool I can be found on beaches and hiking trails with my husband Luke & daughters Isabel & Amara.


I am a voracious reader and have passed on this interest to my children. If you need book ideas for your children or something for yourself, I might be able to help!

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Erika Knox

Office Manager

I first came to Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool in 1977 with my brother when it was located across the bridge on the "island." That year my mother helped the preschool transition from an informal group of friends offering preschool-like experiences to an official licensed facility with IRS 501(c)3 non-profit status.


The school continued as a place of exploration for my own children Kobi & Annan who are now alumni. Even though they both graduated from preschool they enjoy coming back to school to spend time with the currently enrolled children.


I offer a tiny desk for visitors during the day while I pay the bills and keep things going behind the scenes. Young visitors enjoy "supervising" copy machine repair people or listening to audiobooks or classical music.

Bernadette Rasmussen


I came to Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool after spending time with the Wooch.een Head Start Preschool & as an Americorp Volunteer at Baranof Elementary School kindergarten classes.  

Most locals will recognize me as the avid baker & business owner of the Backdoor Cafe of 18 years. When my daughter was young I cared for her and several other children in our home. I've been part of the Sitka community since 1980 with my partner Darryl Rehkopf.

When I'm not listening to children tell their stories at Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool, I spend my time baking, volunteering everywhere in the community including  the Baranof Elementary School Kindergarten classrooms, visiting my daughter & traveling the world. You may see me walking around town often followed by a small elderly grumpy dog named Tucker.

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Rachel Pilch
Friday Outdoor School Teacher

This is my family including my husband Nick, daughter Willa, baby Leif & exchange student son Daniel from Cameroon, Africa.


After earning my B.S. in Natural Sciences from University of Alaska Anchorage, and minor in communications. I substitute taught in Anchorage for several years in a wide range of classrooms. I earned an Early Elementary Teaching Certificate and taught preschool in Tacoma, WA while coaching high school swimming with the Steilacoom Sentinels. Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool is the place I first taught after moving to Sitka with my husband. When Willa & Lief came along, Willa attended school while I took a break. Now that Leif is getting older, it's exciting to come back to teaching in a way that works with our expanding family.  


I enjoy plays, music, swimming, board games, reading, and spending a lot of time outside hiking or gardening.


Friday Outdoor School is about exploring the outside world with curious 4 & 5 year old preschoolers. We will hike, beachcomb, listen, smell & observe the wonders of Sitka’s natural environment.

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Krystal Strong


I am so excited to meet all of you to begin our Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool adventure together!

Sitka has been home to my family for the past 12 years. My husband is a math and PE teacher at Sitka High School. We have three children together: Calvin, Malachi and Valya. Valya just finished her time as a student at Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool but still helps me set up my classroom.

I have my Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in teaching and an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I love working with children and have a long history of working in various early childhood programs before running my own family childcare program, Nature & Nurture Family Childcare, from 2010 until now. 

Shortly after getting married in 2007 I taught at Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool. The program has had a special place in my heart ever since. It’s fun to see how many of the preschoolers I worked with then are now being taught by my husband in high school! Both my boys & my daughter attended MEPS and have rich memories of their time there. Now I look forward to making lasting memories with all of your amazing children. 


Lori Whitmill

Director and Teacher

I've been lucky to call Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool my second home for 20 years. 

I first joined the Preschool as a devoted parent helper in daughter Kaysia’s class, then joined the staff as a teacher in 2003 before becoming Director in 2004. I enjoy kids of all ages and have taught middle and high school biology and coached high school and college sports. 

I have a B.S. degree in Biology from the University of California – Davis, a teaching certificate from Sonoma State University, and a Masters in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from UAS. I especially enjoy continuing education classes and self-directed study in Early Childhood Education.


I have lived in Sitka for 29 years. Commercial fishing brought me here and I've never wanted to leave!


When I'm not at school I spend my time gardening, building things, cooking and going on hikes with my partner Jeannie Jay. I have a charming & curious granddaughter so I make lots of trips to Oregon to visit!

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