History

In 1969, Sheila Lyon, returned to the Pacific NW after graduating from college in NYC. She started a day care center on Queen Ann Hill in Seattle calling it Henny Penny. Sheila then moved it to Capitol Hill and re organized the center as Kiddy Carnival. During this time Nancy Talbott came on board.

The time came when city ordinances forced the move to Ballard. A father of one of the children at the school purchased an old church at 1412 67th Ave NW behind Ballard High School (now condos). It offered a stage for children’s performances and large spaces upstairs and down. Nancy and Sheila decided to rename the new center. They were looking for a name that was respectful of children and while looking through records one night pulled out an LP by the Small Faces. Eureka!

In 1975 the school was incorporated as a non-profit corporation and Sheila was hired as the executive director. She hired Pat Dewey to be the education director for the school at that time. Pat became the executive director after Sheila. During Sheila and Nancy’s leadership the school participated in the city’s block grant program, the foster grandparent program, the University of Washington’s autistic child program, and was part of a national study with the Department of Education. Small Faces was one of 64 schools in the USA to study child/staff ratio.

Sheila and Nancy were hired to be consultants for Virginia Mason’s day care center. Sheila later became consultant to Group Health Day care center and the city of Seattle. 60 Minutes came out to the school one year to do a bit on the school but it was preempted. Sheila and her husband, still own a magic shop in Pike Place Market. Nancy eventually moved to San Diego where she lived for 25 years. Pat moved to Texas. In 1979 Pat hired two young ladies, Lynn B. Wirta and Kathy Brockman. Lynn was the Big Kids teacher (K-6). Kathy taught in one of the three preschool classrooms. In 1980 the center moved into its current home, the Crown Hill Elementary School building. The school had eight staff members and 55 kids.

Small Faces was just renting space in the building at the time (which did not include the Rainforest Room). Food was served in the auditorium (currently in use by ARC ballet). For a while the kitchen was located in the office where Johnny, Kathy and Heather now keep this place running smoothly. Big Kids and Lynn hung out in the current Mountain Room with Kathy across the way in what is now Kangaroo Room. In 1984 the Big Kids room got the first computer in the center (an ATARI), which goes to show that things haven’t changed that much, 2009 found the Big Kids building a computer from scratch for Tree Frogs.

Lynn moved into the Director’s chair in February 1985 at a point when Small Faces was facing being closed. In just two short years Lynn and the staff moved from being near closure to achieving NAEYC accreditation for the first time. Lynn also began the tradition of the annual Small Faces barbecues, starting with just one in the summer of 1985. 1987 saw the building of the current playground. Money for the venture came from fundraising that included the sale of t-shirts. That same year Small Faces began one of its longest running partnerships. Local artist Scott Summers painted his first mural for the school. While this first effort has been painted over, Scott continued to paint murals for every classroom and in the hallways of the building. His most recent piece is the second half of our Lifecycle of the Salmon mural that graces the main hallway.

In 1989, after much jack-hammering and hard work, the kitchen was moved downstairs to its current location, a room which once housed the coal fired boiler for the part of the school built in 1919 (with a careful eye you can still locate the coal chute).

In 1991 Lynn hired Ron Hilbert, a Native American storyteller and artist, whose art is showcased in our hallway. Ron worked at Small Faces for many years and passed away in 2006.

In 1998 Small Faces became master tenant of the school and took over maintenance and rental space for the building.

In 2000, the murals inspired former teacher Jenna (who currently visits Small Faces once a week to lead dance class for the children) to ask that the classrooms be renamed, with the Tree Frogs being the first.

In 2001, Dale White started his time as Head of Maintenance for the center. His love of Small Faces and all of the children will be remembered for years to come. Dale passed away in the summer of 2008.

In 2007 a change of policy by the Seattle School District pushed Small Faces to consider purchasing the Crown Hill Elementary School building. After many letters, fundraisers and late nights Small Faces finalized the purchase of the building with much of the field dedicated to being a city park, which opened in the spring of 2012.

In 2009, Lynn announced her intention to retire, ending an almost three decade run as the center’s director. The search for a new director concluded with the selection of current Big Kids Lead Teacher Johnny Otto as the next Executive Director for Small Faces.