August 31, 2011

Music To My Ears

I think I have always been a teacher.  When I was five, I remember being one of the big kids at preschool who got asked to help button up coats for the little guys. At eight, I helped my little sister spell hard words when she first started to write.  In high school, I worked as a babysitter whenever I could.  In college, I tutored local middle school students in French - in between stints as a door-to-door brush salesman!

As soon as I graduated, I joined a Teacher Preparation Program, very similar to the one we have here at Friends’, and began my teaching career.  In grad school, I focused on learning how to mentor young teachers.  As an elementary school teacher, I filled my long summers every year working with young people, teaching them theatre.  I love sitting down with my high school daughter and explaining the intricacies of algebra.

The music of the sound of children has been the backdrop of my life.

So it was very peculiar this summer when I was working in my new office at Friends’ School, upstairs above the preschool.  I re-furbished it so it felt like mine.  I brought in family photos and gifts given to me over the years by former students, yet something was missing.  I had wonderful and productive meetings with all kinds of delightful grown-ups all summer long as we planned for the upcoming school year, but something wasn’t quite right.

And then, this week, I heard it.  The music was back. 

Friends’ welcomed back almost 60 three and four year olds to preschool, and the building where I get to spend a good chunk of my time was humming with laughter and shouts of joy, bustling with squeals of delight and innocent giggles.  Everything felt right again.

On the very first day, on Monday, it was hard to say goodbye for some families.  A few tears were shed and the occasional weeping was heard.  Sometimes it’s harder for the parents than the children.  One mom in particular was nervous about dropping her child off.  I knew it wasn’t easy.  So I was thrilled, after the second day of preschool, to receive this note from her:

"So far, he loves it (he wants to have everyone over to our house) and the transition has been perfectly smooth! I definitely love your school and think it's the best in Boulder...I just wish you went past 5th grade...but one thing at a time. :) We're very glad to be here."
Yes, one thing at a time.  Fifth grade will arrive soon enough.  But more quickly than we all think.  The picture from my high schooler’s first day of preschool hangs on my office wall.  You can see the nervousness and the uncertainty and you can see the brand new lunch box.  Thank goodness you can’t yet see the algebra.

August 24, 2011

Welcome back to school!

We have had a wonderful first few days in the elementary school and we’re looking forward to welcoming all of our preschoolers next week.  My goal is to know all of our elementary students’ names by Friday morning.  Big test coming up!

At our first Gathering on Monday, I shared one of my favorite poems from childhood, A.A. Milne’s Forgiven about a beetle called Alexander who escapes from a matchbox.  I loved spending part of recess that same day with a group of Beth Huennekens’ first graders as we looked for beetles together.  I gave them a matchbox and they couldn't wait to find a new resident for it. Children were looking under rocks, in the sandbox, and in the bark of trees.  They came running to find me when they found a real live beetle on the wall outside the 3rd grade classroom.  Alas, this one also got away.

I had to smile the next day when a parent reported that her child had come home after school and announced that we had been looking for miniature beagles out on the playground. Snoopy watch out, Friends’ School first graders are looking for you!