Friday, September 11, 2009

Evidence Of Our Passage

Unlike last weeks Woodland Park Pre-3 Parent Orientation meeting where there were mostly new faces, last night’s 3-5 orientation saw only 2 new families, which is two more than most years. As I went around the circle, I counted 3 families who were there representing their third child through Woodland Park and 6 who were on their second child. And there are 9 other families with babies who I hope to see come through the school within the next two years.

In other words, unlike last week I wasn’t worried about first impressions, which is good because we arrived to find a portion of the wall of the gym removed and a dehumidifier running. Apparently, last week’s heavy rain revealed a leak in the roof which had caused water damage to a portion of the walls. This forced us to meet in the classroom, where we sat in the children’s tiny chairs. To make more room for our larger adult bodies we shoved some of our shelves back, revealing some grit and grime we missed during last spring’s year-end cleaning. One of our new mother’s said, “Ew,” but no one else batted an eye.

Between our courtyard camper and this, our little school took a beating over the summer while we were away. I’ll bet it’s glad to have us back, where it will continue to take a beating.

Being an established school community, we cranked through the business portion of the program effortlessly, while I made notes of things that need to happen over the next two days as these same families come in to work together to get the school in shape for our first day next Monday. Scanning the room, I checked the spot on the ceiling where water leaked in a few years back causing a chunk of material to fall to the floor. As I peered across the room to make sure there was no new moisture on the floor beneath that spot, I noticed the permanent paint and glue stains on the cracked and faded linoleum. No amount of scrubbing will ever get those off.

The Woodland Park Cooperative Preschool facility will never be mistaken for state-of-the-art and I like it that way. In fact, as far as I’m concerned the more like a garage it is, the better. I even fought getting a new rug for Circle Time a couple years ago because I didn’t want to feel the pressure to keep it clean. I only relented when parents assured me they wouldn’t complain if we damaged it with paint, mud, or any of the various materials we use for Pre-K science experiments. Our tables, walls and easels all bear the unwashable marks of prior years. We use our art supplies, toys and tools until they fall apart, and then more often than not they find their final resting place as part of some sort of art project. The bright side of our current water damage is that we now have some stains on the new carpeting we installed in the gym last year as a way to correct poor acoustics. Whew! The pressure is off!

Young children spend far too much of their lives in places where they’re told to not make a mess. Preschool shouldn’t be one of those places.

I’m heading into the classroom in a couple hours where I’ll spend the next two days working with parents to scrub and tidy as best we can. But however hard we try, our walls, doors and floors will continue to proudly wear the evidence of the passage of all the children it has helped to teach. And starting Monday, we'll start making more.

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