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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Posted November 1, 2018

By Kylen Glassmann

If you read our last blog, written by Amanda, you have a clear image of Friday mornings at All Seasons Preschool, and the excitement that comes with “popcorn day!” Now, let’s take a trip down memory lane (for many of us, anyway). Picture yourself coming home from school, probably exhausted from the day and all its challenges. You plop down on the couch and turn on the T.V., excited to see his familiar face, his cozy sweaters, and the iconic red trolley headed to the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe.” You snuggle in and wait for another adventure as he welcomes you to the neighborhood and makes you feel safe, calm, and loved. That’s right, I’m talking about none-other than Fred Rogers and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

If you’re like me, these are among your most treasured memories from childhood – maybe it was an after school tradition or something you did when you were home from school, sick on the couch. No matter the occasion, I could not wait for the next episode. There is something so personal about “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and the way it approaches childhood. It is one of the most unique shows that I have ever seen, and it has been beyond wonderful to witness our young students and beloved seniors join the “neighborhood” together, as we watch episodes as part of our Friday morning popcorn tradition.

 

What about this show is so extraordinary? Maybe it is its simplicity: there is nothing overstimulating or fast-paced about it. It is just a person, his neighbors, and their imaginations. They live in a space where all feel safe and learn from each other. Perhaps it’s the fact that Fred Rogers had a platform to sit in front of children (and adults!) and tell them things like, “It’s okay to feel disappointed.”

It may be all of those things, but it may also be that we recognize that we are part of such a neighborhood ourselves.It’s because Grandma Ruth, who could barely walk herself to a chair one Friday morning, saw Mr. Rogers, and came to life. “I’m going to try that!” she said excitedly, as we watched him make spaghetti using a pasta maker. It’s because Grandma Lou, who often babbles incoherently, looked at one of the aids and said, “He’s talking to me!” when Mr. Rogers sang his welcome song. It’s because all of us teachers watch, with tears in the our eyes, as the children ignore their cups full of popcorn and watch, wide-eyed, as Mr. Rogers tells them to be brave. It’s extraordinary because, as an adult, I still watch the show and feel safe, calm, and cared for. These are the reasons why “The Neighborhood of Make-Believe” continues to fill a special place in my heart – Mr. Rogers transcends time with his gentle presence and accepting messages and reaches all audiences.

So now, as you picture our Friday morning popcorn tradition, imagine children, teachers, and seniors, learning and growing together, all part of our own “neighborhood.” Any with that, I’d like to say, from the words of Fred Rogers himself…

 

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you!
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

 

Is It Popcorn Day?

Posted October 17, 2018

by Amanda Janquart

Fridays at All Seasons have an energy all their own. The smell of fresh popcorn at in the morning is ubiquitous. The Spring and Autumn Rooms take turns making it, which always draws a crowd of excited children. They count down waiting for the first pop, help melt the butter or add salt, and simply enjoy watching the steam rise. Making five large bowls could easily become a chore, but somehow it never does.
At 11:00, teachers call out, “Walleyes and Eagles, it’s time for movies and popcorn with the Grandmas and Grandpas!” Children from both preschool rooms gather and head upstairs to visit Memory Cove West (Walleyes) or Memory Cove East (Eagles).
Anticipation builds before we open the Cove doors, as children are asked to think of what they might say to the seniors. They are challenged to not forget anyone, shake each grandparent’s hand, make eye contact, and verbally greet everyone. As names are learned, there isn’t much sweeter than listening to children call out, “Good Morning, Grandma Ruth!” or “I like your sweater, Grandpa Bob.” The smiles they receive in return can be breath-taking.

Next up is popcorn distribution, with the children hand delivering a cupful to each senior. When Grandma Mary declines, they know to move on to Grandpa Greg. After double-checking to see if all the seniors have what they need, then, and only then is it time for the children to receive theirs.
After gathering at the feet of Grandmas and Grandpas or getting the “lucky” spots on the couch between doting seniors, the movie begins. Finding movies that appeal to both generations is an ongoing pursuit. We look for the ones which evoke long-ago memories for the seniors; watching with their own children or grandchildren. And the ones that are still appealing and appropriate for today’s children. Many movies have failed or were rejected for a variety of reasons. Old animated cartoons include jokes rooted in racism or sexism. Classic movies like Swiss Family Robinson demean females’ potential, and many have scenes too frightening for children such as the ‘child snatcher’ in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Some are simply too slow-moving or over the heads of preschoolers (vintage Lassie or Singing in the Rain). We have skipped scary sections, explained gender equity over the TV volume, translated British accents, and fast-forwarded to the musical numbers when yawns were apparent.
Thankfully, there have been successful finds. Mary Poppins is returned to year after year and has the added benefit of songs to connect the generations. The music becomes a part of community sing-a-longs and the catchy lyrics are requested time and again when we sing with the Grandmas and Grandpas. Milo and Otis, Winnie the Pooh, and episodes of Mister Rogers have also been well received. While the challenge of finding good fits can take up multiple staff meetings, we continue to search because those twenty minutes a week of comfy, cozy, casual time, without an agenda are what we are after – being at home with each other.

Grandma Faye

Posted October 4, 2018

by Sarah Kern

In September, we lost our Grandma Faye. I say “our” because she was as much a part of this school as any of the teachers or any of the children. Perhaps she was more so “ours” because we loved her — and she us — for many years. We built Grandma Faye into our curriculum, from her weekly visit to read to the children to our spontaneous visits to her apartment — a favorite place to visit with her old doll carriage, polar bear figurines, and view of the playground. “Can you see us play, Grandma Faye?” “Oh yes, I love to watch you.”

I first met Grandma Faye in the pines. I was being trained in for my new teaching position in the Autumn Room on a beautiful fall day. Grandma Faye was out for a walk. She immediately filled me with a feeling of warmth that only a Grandma can. She had a simplicity and a sincerity about her.

Faye loved the children. She adored them. She brought small gifts around holidays. She shared her handmade puppet who had on one side a smile and on the other a frown and brought favorite books. She asked questions and remembered favorite students. Faye invited struggling children onto the couch to sit next to her as she read. She loved to  make the children laugh. She loved to hug them. She loved to be with them.

Faye loved us teachers, too. She remembered details about my life I’d forgotten I’d shared, asked after my husband, and delighted in my pregnancy. I will always cherish the memory of her holding my baby girl when we came to visit. She sent me two cards after my baby was born. I know each of us teachers has treasured memories of Faye.

It became clear early this fall that we may not have much time left with Faye. Her wish was to see the children as much as possible. We brought them to her every chance we could in her last days. They sang with her, hugged her, held her hands, asked her questions. Though Faye was declining, she was ever herself. She lit up when she saw the children. I will never forget the tenderness they showed her, somehow grasping what teachers failed to explain– don’t step on the tube that goes into her nose, be quiet, be gentle, sing clearly. One morning, a group gathered flowers for her and brought them to her. As she held them, they shared a book with her. Though Faye could no longer read to us, we could read to her. Faye died the next morning.

There is a melancholy to loving anyone. We know they are not ours to keep or change, only ours to hold close to us for a time. For some, we are blessed with a long time. For others, it’s much shorter. When we grow to love the seniors, we know in our hearts we will have a short time. We know Inver Glen will likely be their final earthly home. Sometimes it is with fear and a bit of sadness that we begin to care for these people — We don’t know how long we will have. But it is impossible not to know and love them. With Grandma Faye, we were blessed with many years and many happy memories. We are grateful.

 

Grandma Faye’s obituary

 

 

My Sick Day My Children Needed

Posted September 18, 2018

by Jenny Kleppe

Today, I have the flu. I can barely move, I am shivery, then sweaty, achy all over and I’ve lost my voice. It’s summertime and I have a three-year-old and a five-year-old home with me in all my glory. It’s 1:45pm and everyone is still wearing pajamas. I have no idea what we will have for dinner and honestly, I cannot remember what my children ate for breakfast. I do know that no one brushed their teeth this morning.
The five-year-old wanted to bring me juice to make me better and hence there is a layer of sticky orange slime covering the kitchen floor. Dishes are everywhere. Toys are EVERYWHERE. I can’t see the table because it is covered in every art supply we own. I do not want to know the state of any other room in the house.
This is NOT how my house usually runs. I am an organizer. A planner. A teacher. A scheduler. A, “You have 5 more minutes to do that until you need to clean up,” kind of mom. I thrive on routine. This summer we have been able to do so many great things because my routine allows me to get two kids up, dressed, fed, and onto our next fabulous adventure. I have only been able to tolerate the disaster that is our current existence because moving from my current couch position is more than my equilibrium can bear.


And this has been, without a doubt, my children’s favorite day of the summer. They are so happy! They are GETTING ALONG and playing together. Kindly, even. They are playing with every toy, even the ones I have not seen them use in weeks because today, they have the time to use them.
The table is covered because for the last 30 minutes they’ve been making me pictures, cards, cut out hearts, and “Feel Better Crowns”. I’m covered in all their favorite stuffed animals and blankets. My usually clean floors are sticky – all because my preschool aged children are doing everything their wonderful little minds can think of to make me feel better. They continue to come up with new ideas and are even evaluating their own thoughts. My son just gave me my third construction paper and tape bracelet and said, “This one is much better. It’s your favorite color and it won’t break like those ones.” Through the mess and the sickness, my children’s kindness and creativity are shining through. And it is letting me know I need to slow down. I want to create more days like this.
It is all well and good to have a routine, to have fun activities planned. I am a do-er, a planner. It is part of what makes me a great mom and a great teacher. I go stir crazy when I’m sick and can’t leave the house. Being sick today helped me to see that when it comes to young children, part of the plan needs to be time. A lot of time. Uninterrupted, independent play time. Time to just be. To read all the books on the shelf. To work it out with your sibling. To use as many pieces of construction paper as they want without their mother limiting or reminding them, “The bigger mess you make, the longer it will take to clean it up!” They need time to set up and then play with their toys. To come up with the ideas and ask, “What’s next?” This is the kind of play and time that will help their young minds learn to focus, to plan, to evaluate, to execute, and to have more fun than I have seen with most of my planned adventures. And deep down isn’t that what we want?
Maybe I’ll be sick tomorrow…

Swimming Upstream

Posted May 31, 2018

by Sarah Sivright

All Seasons Preschool is a small fish, swimming upstream. We have some good friends swimming with us, but the current is big and powerful, and hardly knows we are there. You all know how we spend our days here with your children; much of the day outside in wild spaces, and a classroom full of good books, writing and drawing tools, dramatic play supplies, manipulatives, blocks, art materials—and all available for the children’s choosing for most of indoor time. Outside of free play, we visit the seniors and go to the studio. We believe—and evidently you do, too–that the world we offer here is a pretty great version of what’s best for young children.

Years ago, as an assistant teacher, I had this very vision in my head and heart, and was ready to put it into action in my own classroom. My principal put the brakes on, telling me I needed to go to graduate school first, to understand child development, and have the pedagogical foundation and language to support what my instincts were telling me. Graduate school was crucial to my development as a teacher, and I was grateful to have the theories and research to explain good practice to parents, colleagues and student teachers.

But the “real world” kept getting in the way. My kindergarten teaching experiences were frustrating, with the obstacles of bureaucracy, state and federal standards and assessments, and parental pressure for early reading skills, feeling insurmountable to me. I moved to preschool, where I thought I would have more freedom to create the classroom I imagined.

I taught at Dodge Nature Preschool for several years, where the curriculum is similar to ours. The Lower School principal at St. Paul Academy was on our preschool board, and I asked him how our graduates fared in his kindergarten. He said they tend to be “behind” in knowing numerals and letters, but catch up in a month or two. He also said our students were outstanding in their love of books, creativity with materials, comfort outdoors, and social relationships. That was enough for me.

However, when I came to All Seasons and Amy, with her elementary school background, suggested doing fall and spring assessments with the children to demonstrate growth, I was a little nervous. I didn’t need to be. With our literacy and numeracy-rich environment, the results were gratifying. Children can and do learn through play very well, thank you.

Now on to kindergarten, and many of you are anticipating being shell-shocked by the transition. But truly, your children will do just fine, even if the first weeks are bumpy. What you and they will carry into the next years is the knowledge of what children need to thrive—you’ve seen it. So maybe you feel like being a bit of a rabble-rouser next year, and decide to advocate for longer recess, turning that little bit of woods off the playground into a play space, or contributing materials to a small dramatic play corner. You were willing to swim upstream with us—thank you! As Dory would say, let’s all “just keep swimming!”

Puff…Off They Go

Posted May 17, 2018

by Amy Lemieux

As the school year draws to a close and we say goodbye to some of our students heading to kindergarten, I get sentimental. Puff the Magic Dragon, a poem written in 1959 and later turned into a song, was a childhood favorite of mine, sung with great gusto. As a child, I knew it to be a happy song about a friendly dragon who empowered and played with a little boy. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized it was about the enchantment and subsequent fading of childhood. (Author’s note; this blog will be meaningless if you don’t read the words to the song).

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff
Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff’s gigantic tail
Noble kings and princes would bow whene’er they came
Pirate ships would lower their flag when Puff roared out his name
A dragon lives forever but not so girls and boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys
One gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave 

The few times our student have gleefully sung this song upstairs with the seniors, I admit I couldn’t get through it without crying. It is not all tears of sadness for the passing of time, however. Mine are largely tears of gratitude that our teachers have created a space where children are free to play with dragons every day.  I am so thankful these teachers understand that joining the children in their wonder is a central factor that generates this magic.  It is walking into a classroom and to see Kylen strum her air guitar, getting as into the “Firetruck” song as the kids, or Jenny acting out a believable interpretation of the big bad wolf at our community room plays. It is Amanda being as wide-eyed as the kids because there are pirates living upstairs and poop trees growing outside, Rita composedly going along with having “witch hair” for Halloween, or Sal being as happy about a child getting his jacket on as the child. My gratitude comes from listening to Sarah Sivright read from Jenny and the Cat Club and being on the edge of her seat at the end of every chapter even though she’s read the book forty times, for Diane Dombrock whose passion has created a genuine reverence for rocks and for Diane Belfiori who is so generous and trusting with her own instruments that she allows preschoolers to play them. And it is Sarah Kern who excitedly created a cozy bear cave this year that not one child played in – ever.  Embracing the true nature of early childhood only happens with those who are totally devoted to and have an affection for children this age.
The original words of “Puff” were a poem written by Leonard Lipton, a 19-year-old college student at Cornell University. Lipton added another verse that never made it into the song, where Puff meets another child to play with. I know I would have found great comfort in this verse. As some of our children head off to kindergarten, new students will arrive to play with Puff and our teachers.

The World Feels Much Bigger When You Have Kids In It

Posted May 3, 2018

by Amy Lemieux

photo from “hybridparenting.org”

Cliché as it is to say, having a child changes the world for a parent.  Raising children is not for sissies.  The leap from “competent adult” to “hovering freak show who follows a tiny person around” is not that giant when you consider you’re responsible for the very survival of another human being.  The gravity of this responsibility can be misinterpreted.  In hindsight, I inflated my job of “keep him alive” to “make every aspect of his life perfect and don’t ever let him suffer a moment of discomfort.”  This distortion made letting go more difficult than it should have been and did a disservice to my son.

Maybe it started at ten weeks gestation when my husband suddenly started cooking vegetables for me every night.  Maybe it was when I began running through the neighborhood seven months pregnant thinking it might make me strong enough to deliver a baby with a perfectly round head.  It could have been me riding in the backseat with our infant son while my husband chauffeured us around, not just on the ride home from the hospital but for a solid six months.  When my sister-in-law asked, “Has Nick ever even cried for anything?” we should have heard her intended message, but we proudly said, “No.  Never.”

I remember the visceral reaction I had the first time my oldest was invited to play at a friend’s house.  I think the mother’s actual words were something like, “Eddie really likes Nick and talks about him all the time.  We would love to have him over for a play date.”  The words I heard were, “I’m going to rip your heart from your chest and take it to my house.  You might never see it again.”  My reaction was so strong and unexpected that seventeen years later I haven’t forgotten it.  Nick never did play with Eddie, even though I liked and trusted the family.  What I could not articulate at that time was how frightened I was to send my son into an unfamiliar setting even though I liked and trusted the family.    Eddie’s parents’ job was to keep Nick safe for two hours while he played, not to make his afternoon perfect.  But I felt like the universe was going to swallow my son if he wasn’t with me.

Obviously, his range grew as he got older, but I wish I understood in his early years that my job was never to make his life seamless, but to let him grow and venture away from me with the confidence of knowing I’d be his home base even if everything wasn’t perfect.  I wish I had let him tell me his needs (a necessary part of growing up) rather than anticipate them.  I wish I hadn’t taken my role as protector to such an extreme.  I wish I had let him play with Eddie.

The world really does feel bigger once you have kids in it, but it would not have felt so overwhelming if I hadn’t misunderstood my responsibilities when he was young.

The Power of Saying “Yes”

Posted April 19, 2018

by Kylen Glassmann

How often do children hear the word “no”? In a world of structure, rules, and routines, they are told “no” a lot. However, when we allow children to go with their interests, try out their version of problem solving, and take the lead in their own world, beautiful things can happen. It is a good reminder that children are often their own best teachers and by taking a step back, we allow them to learn and grow in a very meaningful way.

Saying “yes” is a big part of what we do here at All Seasons Preschool, and it can make all the difference for a young child entering a school environment for the first time. I have been reminded of this lately as the Autumn room grows more and more independent, cooperative, and creative. A few dominant play themes have become a classwide “obsession” and I have really enjoyed watching these interests blossom into more than I could have imagined, because we’ve embraced their ideas and said, “yes!”

First, the fire-station! “Firetruck, firetruck! I want to ride on a firetruck!” These words will forever haunt me, as I have spent too many evenings singing them in my not-so-deep sleep. However, they will also always remind me of some of my favorite memories from this year. Who would’ve thought that 16 three, four, and five-year-olds could get together and build a firetruck out of big blocks, decide where each block should be placed, who is the fire-chief, who is the driver, and where the truck is going, with little to no help from their teachers! Talk about problem solving, teamwork, and collaboration. Soon, the children were requesting boots, hats, coats, fire hoses, and of course, the fire truck song! This little idea blossomed into a full-blown fire station that has taken over our loft area for the better part of a month! Before we knew it, the kids were testing their literacy skills while they helped to make signs for the station, they were practicing problem solving while they delegated roles and shared the materials, and my favorite, they began letting their imaginations take over as they used the materials in very creative ways! They are still coming up with new things to add to the fire-station and it seems their ideas are endless; this is preschool play at its finest!

Next, hockey! It wouldn’t be a Minnesota winter without talk of hockey – hockey jerseys, hockey games, skating, and the Minnesota Wild! It wasn’t long before themes of playing hockey were coming out in the children’s’ play. One day, we noticed two children hitting a small triangular block around with some of the longer thin blocks, and said they were playing hockey. Hockey is not a quiet sport and things quickly became too noisy for the classroom. Rather than saying, “That’s too loud, please choose something else to play,” we told the kids that we would move the play to a more appropriate space – the square! It didn’t take long before everyone was curious about the exciting activity happening outside the classroom, and again, we said, yes – come on out and join in the action! Soon enough, the entire Autumn Room was taking part in the game. The children grabbed chairs for arena seats, used two larger chairs as the goals, and one child even took on the role of coach/referee, asking children on the ice to take a seat and instructing others that it was their turn. “I’m the guy who has people sit down so other people can play!” she happily exclaimed. Then, another child asked, “What about the zamboni?” This sparked everyone’s imagination and curiosity. The next thing we knew several children were calling for “timeout,” as another crowd of kids came in with some wooden “zamboni blocks.” It didn’t end here – the children played for 30 minutes (only stopping because it was time to see the grandmas and grandpas), and their imaginations kept going. We had ice dancers, timeouts, penalty shots, and a very excited crowd! They cheered for each other, watched out for each other, and respected everyone’s ideas. Again, they took the lead and we watched as they collaborated, solved problems, and had so much fun! We will probably hear children asking to play hockey in the square until the end of the year, hoping that we say yes!

We can’t always say yes, of course – children need structure and limits just as much as autonomy. However, it’s a nice reminder, when it’s appropriate, to let them take the reins and enjoy watching what they come up with. This is how they learn, and after all, they are the experts in how to play.

Good Books

Posted April 5, 2018

by Sarah Sivright

What are “good books?”

There are classics, which by their longevity in the “beloved” category are clearly Good Books. Folk/fairly tales and nursery rhymes were the classic staple in our grandparents’ era. Now there is a huge collection of books written specifically for young children. But, like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead, some are very good, and some are very, very bad.* What I’ve recommended are personal choices, as all books must be. My choices are partially guided by the belief that young children are routinely under-estimated. “Big messages” are delivered in a heavy-handed, preachy manner, with little or no subtlety. (In that category, Thunder Cake comes the closest to that failing, but has other good qualities.) Also, humor is over-done, like a slapstick comedy. Some books are fun in that way, but are not usually the ones requested over and over, one of the marks of a Good Book.
And poorly illustrated books are just off my list.

Promoting a child’s love of books involves several key pieces:
• Being read to from an early age
• Watching the people in their lives enjoy reading
• Being exposed to books with text that speaks in some thoughtful, creative way to the child’s mind and illustrations that are beautiful, creative or charming
A note about the illustrations—the Newberry Award is given by the American Library Association to the author of the most distinguished American children’s book, and the Caldecott is given to the artist of the best picture book, so the “experts” put a high value on both story and illustrations.

[I was going to include some examples of Bad Books, but that didn’t seem very nice.]

Some of my favorites…

Big message
Fire Cat—Esther Averill (a very big exception to my illustration standard!)
Crow Boy—Yashima
Mr. Gumpy’s Outing—Burningham
Owl Babies—Waddell
Thunder Cake—Polacco
Extra Yarn—Barnett
Anything by Leo Lionni

The Fire Cat

Drama (just scary enough for preschoolers)
Three Robbers–Ungerer
Edward and the Pirates—McPhail
Abiyoyo—Seeger and Hays
Tough Boris—Mem Fox

The Three Robbers

Humor
The Mitten–Tresselt
Boo and Baa series—Landstrom
Anything by Jon Klassen

Chapter Books
Frog and Toad series—Lobel
Little Bear—Sendak
Jenny and the Cat Club–Averill

Seasonal/Nature
Gilberto and the Wind—Ets
Any nature books by Jim Arnosky—nature info with enough of a story to engage young children
And the Are you a Bee/Butterfly/Spider series by Allen and Humphries
Owl Moon—Yolen
Peter Rabbit—Potter

Lullaby books
Hush! Minfong Ho
Little Fur Family—Margaret Wise Brown

Grandmas and grandpas
Nana Upstiars and Nana Downstairs & Now One Foot, Now the Other—both by dePaola
My Little Grandmother Often Forgets—Lindbergh
Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge—Mem Fox
Miss Rumphius–Cooney
My Grandson Lew—Charlotte Zolotow
The Two of Them–Aliki

Nursery rhymes/Mother Goose
There has been a lack of exposure these days, partly because of the increase in good children’s lit, but don’t neglect this important part of every child’s education!
*See “There was a little girl…”

Multicultural  (The beauty of these books is that there is no Big Message. These are books about children and families just being themselves—many colors, many styles.)

Jamaica series—Havilll. These are simple stories about family, friends, school, where the main character just happens to be African-American
Louie & Peter’s Chair—both by Keats.  A series about Peter and his friends–multicultural children just being children
Sam—Ann Herbert Scott (try reading this one without crying)
Fancy Nancy series—O’Connor/Glasser—individualism of family members, especially Nancy, is supported.

Mrs. Katz and Tush – Polacco – Such a story!

Happy reading!

A Thank You to All Seasons

Posted March 22, 2018

by Sarah Kern

It’s one of my favorite times of the school year. The warm sunshine and peeks of grass remind me that spring is around the corner. The days are longer, and the children are blissfully comfortable at school. We are all deeply connected, having shared many hours and meaningful moments together over the last six months. I’ve wiped tears and noses, held hands and given hugs, and laughed and learned alongside my students. But this spring I prepare not for walks in the blooming woods, gardening, and year-end reports. This spring I prepare for my own greatest time of challenge and transformation: Motherhood.
I have a job that humbles me constantly. In the fall, with my tiny baby in my belly, I teared up reflecting on the trust parents had in me, who many of them hardly knew, as they handed off their screaming toddlers. Someday, would I be able to trust another to care for my child in that way? I’ve marveled with a special attention to the way each of our parents know their own child so very well, how they adjust their parenting for every little moment and need. Someday, would I know my daughter in that way? As I recently sat with parents at parent-teacher conferences, I appreciated their honesty and their humor. How will I see my daughter one day? Will I be able to be honest about her challenges as much as I can celebrate her strengths?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that the parents I’ve been so fortunate to know over the last six years at All Seasons have taught me more than I have ever taught them or their children. I am so grateful. I’ve felt it all around me this entire pregnancy — your support, concern, excitement, and love. So many of you have gone out of your way to offer me kindness and support. When I have a baby question, I know just who I’ll contact; you are the true experts.
I can’t express my gratitude for this school without mentioning the staff. The women who run this school are my second family. I’ve asked them many times to raise my child for me (they thought I was joking). Many of them are extraordinary mothers themselves, rich with knowledge, experience, and humor. They pulled off a surprise baby shower under the guise of a licensing meeting, got me my favorite cake on my birthday, and outfitted me in XL men’s snow pants to get me through the winter. They were among the first people I contacted when we found out our baby was a girl (I think one of you still has a chicken cage to clean for betting it was a boy!). They haven’t batted an eye as I’ve had to make adjustments to what I’m able to physically and mentally do this year, even when it’s meant more work for them.
Another facet of this wonderful place is the seniors. They’ve asked after me with the care only a grandparent can express, in a way filling the void I feel from the loss of my own grandparents. They’ve given me advice, shared their birth stories (I’m so grateful for modern medicine!), and reminisced about their own lives as new parents. One of the things I look forward to most is visiting and seeing my baby in the arms of these dear people.


So despite the pain of sitting in tiny chairs and my near constant exposure to germs and various bodily fluids, I’m quite sure there is no better place to be pregnant, and in the fall, there will be no better place to be a new mom. It’s all thanks to this wonderful community.
So I’m passing my classes on for this lovely season of spring, saying farewell for now as I prepare for the mystery of being a mom. Thank you doesn’t seem enough to say to all of you wonderful parents and teachers, but know I will pull a thread from each of you as I shape who I am as a mother.