Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Farewell For Now Week!

Farewell For Now Week was here before we knew it!  The children had a wonderful time on Field Day!

They also did a great job at their "Book Reading"!  

We are delighted that so many of you were able to join us for our Songs, Book Reading and Picnic. 

Looking Deeper:  Exploration and Learning through Play
Let's take a closer look at the children's social emotional growth.

I always love looking at the photos taken of the children during the special events of our last two days of school; namely Field Day, our Book Reading and our Family Picnic.  Over the course of the year we have routinely looked deeper at the growth occurring in the developmental areas of fine & gross motor, speech & language, and cognition.  This week's photos aptly illustrate the social/emotional growth which has also been on-going.

Every single day as the children have come to school they have strengthened their social/emotional skills and utilized these emerging and intricate skills to broaden their circle of relationships.  We spend a life time working at our inter-personal relationships.  This year as parallel play has moved into the realm of interactive play, the children have worked hard daily to move beyond themselves and "play" with friends.  Achieving this end is one of the paramount goals I have for my young students.  Meeting this goal is at the heart of my plans each and every day.  The classroom is designed  to support and expand interactive play as are the Units and Themes presented.  Each day I have observed the children as they have stepped outside of themselves and worked at making and being friends.  Witnessing these efforts and the fruits they bear is one of the most gratifying gifts of my job as their teacher!  It has been a privilege and a joy to behold the children sharing their thoughts, ideas, opinions, preferences and imaginings with one another as they build and strengthen friendships.  The team work and joy the children demonstrated on Field Day illustrates how far they have come in building important interpersonal relationships.

Our Book Reading and Family Picnic brings us full-circle!  The lovely photos of today's final activities brings you most appropriately back into the picture, as you are ones who gave the children the wonderful foundation and confidence to expand and transfer their trust from home and family to school and friends! 

Thank you for sharing your children with us!  They have become a vital part of the Parker family/community, and it has been an absolute joy to witness this process and their abundant growth daily.  It has been a lovely school year! 

One More Thing!
While I will not be returning to the classroom in September, I will remain a part of the Parker Community.  I was both honored and delighted to receive an invitation to serve on the Robert C. Parker School Board of Trustees.  I will assume that role in Fall. 

It has been a privilege to serve on the Parker Faculty for the past 20 years.  It is an amazing gift to be able to do work that one truly loves, and I have loved working and playing with my countless students in Pre-K Three all these many years!  I would like to conclude my final Blog Entry by sharing with you the remarks I made at the Parker Benefit just a month ago.  

"Growing Up Parker"

From the moment Jamie told it to me, I loved the name for this year's Benefit!  "Growing Up Parker" really resonated with me.  It became the thread that connected the thoughts and reflections that I would like to share with you over the next few minutes.  I find it a bit ironic that I have never really enjoyed or been very good at actual gardening.  I love and admire Public Gardens and those of my friends.  In fact, some of the very best gardeners I know are sitting with me at my table this evening.  But despite my attempts, I have always found digging in the dirt to be very hard work that I did not enjoy. Yet throughout my career, at the very same time every year, usually around February, there is a moment when I look around the classroom and realize there has been a transformation.  It is in that moment of awareness,  that I suddenly realize that these beautiful little children have "Blossomed."

One of the many things I have loved about teaching three year olds, is how transformative I have found that year to be in a child's life.  The children enter in September with the last vestiture of Babyhood.  There are tears of separation, sometimes by both children and parents.  Most children have only been speaking for about a year and a half, so group directions have to be modeled, as well as spoken.  They have cute ways that they say certain words because articulation has not yet been perfected, and their play is much more parallel than interactive.  That's why, except for the crying, the Three Year Old Classroom is often much quieter than that of the Four Year Olds' at the start of the year.  But in that February instant when I look up, I see that they are now independent, they are chatting away, playing together, planning, problem solving, collaborating in the Block Area, Cooking Meals in the Dramatic Play Area, requesting their favorite books at Story Time, and the room is now far from quiet.  The children have indeed "Blossomed", and have in my mind's eye left the last bit of  Babyhood behind and become "Kids".  For me, that instant has always been a major and memorable step in "Growing Up Parker".

Interestingly, one of my favorite spaces on the magnificent Parker grounds is the Co-operative Extension Gardens, located in the front of the School.  I have loved spending time walking around these gardens with my Pre-K Three Classes in the Fall and Spring of every year, enjoying the beauty, talking about what we see, and experiencing first hand the life cycle of these amazing plants and flowers.  I have always marveled at the talent and artistry of these incredible "Master Gardeners." 

Well, I am here to tell you that there are equally incredible "Master Gardeners," at work inside the Building!  It has been a joy and a privilege to work side by side with colleagues who skillfully and lovingly nurture the children entrusted to them, allowing them to grow and blossom in their own way and in their own time!  I know of no more fertile soil than that of Parker's Philosophy and Pedagogy.  It has been an amazing gift to see many of my little students moving up through the grades each year.  Until suddenly it is that 8th Grade day in June when they are standing on the Parker Stage giving their Graduation Speeches.  And on that evening, I know that everything that they possess from an educational standpoint was always in them.  The educators at Parker do not pour knowledge into their students, we simply create an environment within which the children can grow, and we support, nurture and mentor them to the very best of our ability as they do so.  I think that is the very essence of "Growing Up Parker".

Yet, for as much as we give to the children, they give as much if not more back to us.  There is no question that as a teacher of Three Year Olds, I have encountered in a multitude of classroom situations, a fair amount of age-appropriate "childish" behaviors that I seek to help the children negotiate and traverse. "I had it first!"  "Can I go first?"  "I want the purple one!"  "No, I want the purple one!"  "JoAnn, I never get the purple one." That sort of age-appropriate stuff!  But if the truth be told, there have been far more "Child-Like" qualities displayed on a daily basis that have gifted me and that I would do well to emulate.  Every single day these little ones enter the classroom confidently, enthusiastically and while there continuously demonstrate:                                      
A sense of wonder about their world
And a sense of pride in their accomplishments!

Spending my days in an environment with that kind of positive energy has been a true privilege, and I have come to believe that the secrets of a life well lived are hidden in those Child-Like qualities that my little ones model daily!

There is no doubt that over the years, there have been days when I have wondered, "Do I really have the energy to do this today!"  It could be due to something as simple as a bad night's sleep, or as major as a personal loss of a family member, friend or colleague, or perhaps another school shooting. 

The gift and challenge in all of those situations has been that my little three year olds do not know about those things, nor do they possess the understanding to deal with or process them.  So on those days, like all of the professionals at Parker, I strive to leave my excess baggage at the door and enter the classroom where together with the children and my wonderful assistant, we
Read Stories
Shape Play Dough
Build with Blocks
Dress Up
and Play Pretend!

But upon reflection, I have come to consider that perhaps it is not Pretend that we Play. 

It is said that Life takes place in the moment, and three year olds pretty much "live" in the moment.  So perhaps it's not Pretend that we play, perhaps we in fact "Play Real".

It is in all of these ways that my little Three Year Olds have blessed and enriched my life all these many years, and together we have enjoyed, and reaped the abundant  benefits of "Growing Up Parker"!

Thank You so very much for supporting our school and for being part of the Parker Community. 

And to all of my Parents who are here tonight, Thank You for sharing your children with me!

Thank You
Sharing Your Children With Me!