December 8, 2011

Something To Sing About

Friends' School has many wonderful traditions.  Some of them date back to the first year of the school’s existence 24 years ago, when our founding families created warm and nurturing rituals to mark important passages in their children’s growth.  One of the joys of my first year as Head of School is to be a part of these traditions.  Some of them I’ve added my own twist to, such as the dramatization of the telling of Stone Soup at Harvest Celebration.  Some of them, I know to leave well enough alone…

This week our Great Room was home to a beautiful evening as preschool families braved freezing temperatures to join each other in song as part of the Preschool Winter Sing-Along.  With sparkling lights adorning the walls, preschool music teacher Kristen McLean led dozens of families in a program of familiar and child-friendly songs.  Kristin, who has a B.A. in music and early childhood education, is a natural performer and has a gorgeous voice.  Turns out many of our parents and kids do too!

Families sat together, with three and four year olds, and a few parents, leaping spontaneously to their feet in dance.  Grandparents, babies, and older siblings joined their voices in this wonderful Friends’ School tradition.  I felt an enormous sense of community.

Every day our preschool teachers sing with the kids.  Every day when I stop by the preschool classrooms, I am always so impressed with the way the teachers talk so respectfully to the children and teach them how to talk respectfully to each other and how to express their needs and wants.  Our students are learning real life skills.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a few unsolicited letters from some of our preschool families who wanted to share their thoughts about their children’s experience.  I quote a few of them below.  As we begin to fill all our preschool places for next year during this busy admissions season, you are more than welcome to pass these comments to your friends and neighbors who have two and three year olds, or even babies.

“Meg and Christie are thoughtful, kind, listen to the students (and parents), and give amazing instruction.  (My son) and I enjoy their company. The classroom is organized, creative, and structured.”

“We feel like a part of a community.  I love that we can go to the "big kids playground" after school and play.”

“(My husband) was announcing to his friends how Friends' has "the best preschool program around." He was not shy about our feelings and experiences with the preschool. The most wonderful part was hearing other fathers chime in with similar experiences in the preschool at Friends’.”

“(My son) uses at home what he learns at school.  He and his sister use the skills while playing and in problem solving. (My son) is thriving!  What more can we ask for?”

“We continue to be 'wowed' by Jessie. She is consistently an amazing teacher and our children have been the recipients of her gift. With both of our children, we saw incredible strides in their emotional, social and academic lives. Jessie communicates with the children and parents on such a candid level that one cannot help but listen and appreciate her words.”

“I'm thankful, each and every day, for everything that you are GIVING to (my daughter) and her new friends.  She adores each of you uniquely and is very, very engaged in her days at school.  The ways in which details of her day spill into our time together outside of school is so blissful!  It is clear to me that she is thriving.”

And really, what more could a parent ask for?

Well, perhaps an opportunity to sing and dance….

2 comments:

shelpaw said...

It really is one of the most beautiful evenings of the year...young children, some dressed in fancy holiday clothes, younger siblings in jammies, once even a dragon costume (to feel strong and safe during a new experience!). For a short time, that Great Room is magically transformed into a cozy den of family togetherness. Lovely!

Erika norman said...

My oldest daughter is now a middle schooler, yet I clearly recall.and cherish the winter sing along. Holiday lights, beautiful voices, and families together smiling. Oh, how I wish at times my girls were still in preschool with Jessie. Amazing years!