In 1993, Kim Boyko and her family returned to North Dakota and found a spiritual home in the Bismarck Adventist Church. However, the church’s combined cradle roll/kindergarten program left Kim’s three-year-old daughter unimpressed, deeming Sabbath school “boring.” This prompted Kim to grapple with God’s call to teach for six months. In the end, she heeded the call and began to teach the cradle roll class for children aged 0-5.
“Miss Kim,” as she’s affectionately known, has transformed the cradle roll classroom in the Bismarck Church into a bustling community of parents and kids. She rotates her classroom only three times a year because she knows how much kids at that age enjoy repetition. Just like they enjoy the routine of reading the same book every single night, they like to come into Sabbath school and know how the program will go. The kids come away singing catchy songs, learning how to pray, and teaching their friends about what a tapir eats or that another name for an eggplant is an aubergine!
Kim’s classroom is most noticeable because of the large tree that dominates half of her room. In 2000, Kim, along with the help of Jim and Richelle Rickard and Keith and Andrea Nelson, wrote her first Sabbath school program about the rainforest. Throughout the program, there are 10 original songs about all the wonderful creatures God created in the rainforest! The kids—and parents—learn about poison dart frogs, tapirs, crocodiles and so much more. Kim’s nature-focused programs help children learn about the wondrous world God has made while also learning about the character of Christ.
Kim uses a variety of props, puppets and toys to make each of her programs come alive. She takes care to include even the smallest babies by handing out finger puppet bats or cardboard harps to the parents holding the youngest in attendance. Kim believes the smaller the child, the larger the props should be, which is why you can find a six-foot-tall giraffe, ants the size of a grown man’s foot, a mansion in heaven big enough for kids to walk through, and the legendary camel that each child gets a chance to ride on every year during the Christmas season.
Lynsey Mize, mother of two, reflects, “My girls loved [Miss Kim]; she always gave them big hugs and talked to them about whatever they wanted to babble about. She made sure that no matter how many kids there were, everyone got to ride the camel or be baby Moses in the basket, etc. I also made mom friendships through that Sabbath school that are still so meaningful to me. It was just such a wonderful time that she facilitated for us—kids and parents.”
Kim has dedicated three decades to creating a vibrant and inclusive learning community for the youngest members of the Bismarck church. Her creativity, commitment and care have left an indelible mark on both parents and children. As she prepares to unveil a new program about the wildlife of Africa, she encourages anyone who sees a need within the church to reach out and fill it. Her story serves as a reminder that pursuing one’s passion and purpose can lead to a lifetime of profound impact and fulfillment.
Ashley (Boyko) Hansen is a mother, wife, baker, small business owner, and a former three-year-old daughter who found Sabbath school boring.