Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Welcome Summer Vacation Rain

Across the country, students and teachers are heading back to school, while those of us residing in the Great Northwest still have a month of summer vacation in our sights. I’m pretty sure that this is largely a climate-related discrepancy. After all, if we’re lucky we really only get 3 relatively warm and rain-free months around here and it’s only fair that our school schedule is designed to give our kids (and teachers) full advantage of that outdoor time.

That said, it started raining last night and continues this morning. It’s a much needed rain, but not just because it cleans the air and waters the rhododendrons. It's also helping turn my attentions toward our upcoming school year, and it was only fitting that the first drops began to fall as our Woodland Park 3-5’s Cooperative Preschool board sat down together last night to collect our thoughts for the coming year.

Cooperative preschools are parent owned and operated institutions and so it was fitting that we met in our chairwoman’s living room, where I got to see my friend Ella, ready for bed in a snappy pink princess bathrobe. It’s hard to believe that she’ll be starting her third and final year at Woodland Park. We’ve known each other for a long time, Ella and I, traveling together for two full years of messy art, crazy loco stories, princesses, and ladybugs. This year, she’s one of our 11 Pre-K kids, and as such she and her friends – even more than their parents – are the keepers of our institutional memory.

We grown-ups had a great board meeting last night, satisfactorily whipping through the nuts and bolts of our agenda in record time, then tackling a couple challenging issues that have cropped up over the summer. We will be ready for that first day of school.

The school belongs to the parents right now, but once those doors open, we turn it over to the kids and we’ll be counting on Ella, Luna, Anjali, Josephine, Fletcher, Jack, Annabelle, Thomas, Finn, Katherine, and Sarah to set the tone for what kind of community we’re going to be. They’ll be the ones, for instance, who teach the 11 younger children about raising their hands if they’ve something to say. They’ll take the lead and role-model appropriate behavior when we sing, clean-up, and transition from one thing to another. They’ll be the ones who begin the year-long process of making rules. It will be the Pre-K children who recall or forget the traditions and rituals that marked prior years. They will teach the games, conversations, and silliness that makes our community unique.

These eleven 4-year-olds have been coming to Woodland Park together for as long as they remember, and some (i.e., Luna, Annabelle, Finn and Sarah) have been here even longer, tagging along with their older siblings. And I expect that some (i.e., Ella, Anjali, Fletcher, Annabelle, Katherine, and Thomas) will remain a part of our community for years to come as they tag-along with their younger siblings.

I still have four weeks of summer vacation left and I’m going to take full advantage of them, but that won’t stop me from pining a bit as I hear about the first week of school from my colleagues around the country. I expect the sun to return again, but this morning I welcome the rain as a reminder of my friends and the fun we will have together building our community.

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Eva C. said...

School thoughts rained into Josephine's body last night. When she ate breakfast looking at the wet ground this morning SHE began talking in a longing voice about preschool; she confirmed yet again that "this year is the year I get to do the play?!" I'm already thinking of small group projects!

Pumpkin Delight said...

This past weekend I found out an old family friend has her son enrolled in a cooperative preschool down here. This will be her second year involved in it. It sounds so warm and developmental. I love it.

Enjoy your remaining month off...I'm so jealous.

Teacher Tom said...

You know, Eva, the Pre-K play is a perfect example of the kids being the keepers of our institutional memory.

Each January, I challenge the Pre-K kids to come up with a project that is good for the "whole school". My first year, that wound up being the paper mache birthday throne that we still use, but the following year the kids wanted to do a play.

Every September from then on, the Pre-K kids have arrived at school talking about their play. It's pretty amazing.

Maya said...

For me, the beginning of the school year is a lot like Christmas. I love the days leading up to the big day but once the day arrives, the thrill is gone. I'm so glad that you're my daughter's teacher. For the children, you make every day seem like Christmas.

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