They Can Wear Their Pink Pajamas
By Amy Lemieux
As a new teacher fresh out of college, I remember the school principal telling me to be intentional with whom I surrounded myself. It did not take long for me to identify the colleagues in my building who would become my mentors as a young, impressionable teacher. Pat stood out immediately. She understood that for great learning to take place, the relationships within the classroom had to come first. In her classroom, she had created a community of emotional predictability, comfort and acceptance. The core values within her classroom were clearly defined and demonstrated. Notably, Pat had a boy in her second grade class who wore his pink pajamas to school. There was no doubt her classroom was a place of total acceptance.
In the beginning when the concept of All Seasons was only an idea, we had no defined boundaries. We started with…NOTHING. No location, no building, no teachers, no children or parents, no curriculum, no program, no schedule. While exciting, the lack of certainty was horribly uncomfortable. The only objective from the beginning: create a high-quality early childhood program that brought children and seniors together. In 2009 these missing components slowly materialized; some fell into place serendipitously and others were meticulously, sometimes painstakingly arranged. What was at the core, though, was a community of acceptance and familiarity, a joyful place for young children to grow and for older adults to age. All Seasons is a place where a little girl can (and did) tell the grandpa next to her, “I just wet my pants,” and he is comfortable to respond, “Me, too.” This is the type of radical acceptance I saw over twenty years ago in Pat’s classroom and remains the heart of our school community. An extraordinary early childhood community in which young children can learn and grow does not exist without teachers and parents who embrace this very nurturing environment. That quality remains and is the essence of what helped us move forward this summer and fall.
Reopening All Seasons in 2020 initially felt much like 2009. It felt horribly uncomfortable with many unknowns. The most difficult part was saying goodbye for now to the intergenerational component of our day, our grandmas and grandpas. But again, we started with what we knew. Already having a strong art and nature foundation as a springboard made building our schedule feel more natural. But first and foremost, seeing the children and talking to their parents this summer highlighted the most important component of our program: providing an emotionally safe and joyful environment with predictability during a time of unprecedented uncertainty. As we did in 2009, piece by piece, we are putting our puzzle back together. Your child is welcome to wear their pink pajamas to school. All Seasons is back, and we thank you for helping us along the way.