Welcome back, Maddie.
It’s been more than 13 years since this place was her home-away-from-home, but she’s back here, again, as a new school year starts at Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary.
Madeline Ketcheside — that’s Maddie, to most who know her — is one of the Bainbridge Island School District’s new group of teachers.
A May graduate of Pacific University, she will start her teaching career in a familiar place, however.
She’ll be teaching third grade at Blakely Elementary, in the same room where she sat as a third-grader in teacher Sandi Sater’s class. (Ketcheside has her class photo tacked on the bulletin board next to her teacher’s desk of her third-grade class back in 2004-2005. That’s her, front row, third from left, big smile, in a pink blouse and New Balance tennies, sitting between Katja Tunkkari and Amelia Easterbrook.)
Sater, who retired from teaching six years ago but still lives on Bainbridge Island, stopped by the school Tuesday to visit with her former student turned teacher.
“She was lovely,” Sater said of Ketcheside as a student.
“I think Blakely is very fortunate to have her on the staff,” Sater added. “I know she’s going to do an exemplary job. I’m so excited that she’s here.”
Sater, who also taught fifth grade and worked in the central office before coming to Blakely, said her old classroom was familiar to her, as well, in a small world kind-of-way. It was the classroom where her husband Roger taught, she said, while she was at Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School.
When he retired, she decided to interview for his old job — and got it.
For Ketcheside, her third-grade classroom isn’t as familiar as it was years ago. Looking around Tuesday, she couldn’t remember exactly where she sat.
But there may have been a reason for that.
She said she was a talkative student, “a very social one.”
“A few years ago, I got my report cards all in one big file,” she recalled.
“I was reading all of them: ‘She likes to chat a lot. She can’t really sit next to her friends, otherwise she talks all the time.’
“I think that’s kind of funny. I’m not quite as chatty anymore,” Ketcheside laughed.
Ketcheside met her new students Tuesday — she’ll have 18 — the day before the official start of school, at Blakey’s afternoon meet-and-greet.
“They seem like a lively bunch. Really sweet, though.”
She’s not the first teacher in her family. An aunt taught, and so did her grandmother (for one semester, then she married).
When did Ketcheside decide to become a teacher?
“I feel like I always kind of knew. When I was looking at schools for college, I was looking between teaching and nursing,” she said.
Bainbridge was also an easy answer.
“Just the community; I knew I would just get a ton of support from the teachers. And that was really appealing, being a first-year teacher,” she said.
Ketcheside had another visitor to her classroom earlier this week; Jan Colby, who taught Ketcheside in kindergarten.
Colby, calling herself the “oldest living kindergarten teacher,” still teaches down the hall. And she said she’s the only one left at Blakely still there who was an instructor for Ketcheside.
She was a great student in her kindergarten class, Colby recalled.
With the first day of school fast approaching, there was still time for a few minutes of advice. What to expect from her 8- and 9-year-olds?
Third-graders are pretty much third-graders, whether they are from Blakely’s third-grade class of 2004-2005 or 2018-19.
“They are very interested in learning and they really want to do well. They are just real inquisitive and energetic,” Sater said. “They’re fun.”