Posted May 7, 2020

By, Amy Lemieux

She can recite child development theorists in her sleep and Vygotsky is her hero, she accepts children for who they are, she knows good children’s literature, she isn’t afraid to get dirty and loves hard physical work, she is always learning and teaching us something new, she says “yes” too freely, she is generous to a fault, she makes everyone feel like they’re the most important person in the room, and she raised four boys and totally understands why little boys make exploding noises all day long.

Sarah was one of my children’s preschool teachers.  She knew my child as well as I did!  That was the first thing that caught my attention!  That she liked my child anyway gained my affection.  When I worried about my daughter’s compulsive lying, she said, “She’s a preschooler – they all lie,” and then recommended a book, which earned my gratitude.   That she experienced as much joy being with the children as they did was heartening.  She fed a giant snake right in front of the whole class!  (this freaked me out) When I told her I wanted to build an intergenerational preschool, she recommended a book about the loneliness of aging, which left me awestruck before I ran out and bought it.

When I asked if she would help me build an intergenerational preschool with no location, building, teachers, curriculum, or money, she said, “Yes!” without a second’s hesitation.  That is not an exaggeration.  Sarah’s willingness to jump in with both feet has been one of my favorite character traits of hers since day one.  To say I admire her is an understatement.  To say our entire staff borders on revering her is accurate…  Except we tease her too much to say revere.  If she were meaner, we would revere her.  We treasure her. 

Sarah Sivright of All Seasons Preschool is Albus Dumbledore of Hogwarts (we are huge Harry Potter fans).  Not only is she wise, well-read, and experienced, but our achievements and challenges feel safe in her hands.  Each of us has struggles, but Sarah creates safety in voicing them.  She is a mentor, a partner, and a cheerleader to all of us.  

When we designed All Seasons, Sarah’s vision for the interior was clear.  The designer finally quit asking us questions because Sarah’s answer never strayed from, “a lovely green with lots of windows.”  Our biggest fumble was when the construction project was close to complete and Sarah asked, “Where will the fence go?”  That was an expensive oversight – we forgot to tell them we needed a fence.  That question still makes us tense up.

When I start panicking about Sarah’s retirement, I remind myself that the essence of All Seasons Preschool is Sarah’s creation.  I remind myself that she and I still talk most days.  She will remain present.    

It is fair to say that we can finish each other’s thoughts and often do, especially when we are in problem-solving mode.  One of us can start writing a piece that is initially disjointed and the other can rearrange it to become concise.  We have always solidly agreed on who to hire.  In eleven years, there have only been a handful of times we have disagreed, but we have always stuck with the discussion, circling back as many times as it takes to come to an agreement.  (For transparency, we do not agree on books by Mo Willems – they’re hilarious, and Legos – they never fail to elicit a primitive hoarding mentality in small children.)  When it comes down to the core of what is important, Sarah and I might occasionally land on different paragraphs, but we are ALWAYS on the same page.  I know I speak for staff, parents, and alumni families when I say I am eternally grateful for the imprint Sarah has made on our hearts and our school community.