by, Sarah Sivright
My son Ben was visiting earlier this month and he wanted to see All Seasons before heading home to L.A. We were squeezing in a stop between the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the airport, so he just had a quick look. Ben had a chance to meet some of the late day children and their parents and see the classrooms. He’s an artist, so of course he loved the studio and all the documentation
panels. As we were leaving, he commented, “It’s so warm and inviting… it feels like a home.”
I loved hearing that, since creating a home-like space was very intentional as Amy and I planned the school ten years ago.
A child’s first school experience should be as easy a transition between home and the big world as possible. Our environments and our teachers contribute to that in many ways. The small size of our school is an asset, with each child known by every adult, just as in an extended family.
The teachers need a home away from home, too, with healthy relationships. I’ve always felt that a good teaching team resembles a good marriage; communication is easy–verbal and non-verbal–trust and forgiveness are there, as are good problem solving skills and creativity.
When things go well, teachers experience the fun and pleasure of preschooler’s company. When we face struggles, we support each other, talk honestly about the challenges, and learn from each other–and the children.
I have experienced this “family” in other school settings, but never in the way I have here. Part of what makes All Seasons unique is the presence of the seniors. The sadness of losing special grandmothers or grandfathers never completely goes away, but it’s always tied to the gratitude of having known these dear people.
I am a grandmother (Thomas, 9 and Owen, 12). The preschoolers think it is very silly when I sit in the drum section with the other grandmothers for rhythm band in the Community Room, clearly trying to wrap their heads around my dual role of teacher/grandmother. I have learned some important things from the children and the seniors about being a grandparent. Since my grandsons live far away in Utah, I don’t see them often. When we are together, I have felt pressure to be the very best “Grammy” I can be with the limited time we have. But I have finally started to internalize the magic of what Inver Glen seniors bring to our children—their attention, their time, hugs, laughter, love. I know I get those very blessings from my grandsons, and I have to trust that is enough of a gift from me to them.