Letter of Gratitude

Dear Karen,

I have enjoyed the Zoom Tea gatherings that Carol set up with you. It has been so nice to see faces and catch up with friends from working at St. C’s. But what it hasn’t been good for is talking with you, personally.  So I wanted to send you a note.

I have been thinking so much about what I learned from you, and from working at the school you designed and managed. It set such a good foundation for my teaching philosophy and commitment.

Here are some things I learned from you-

  • Children always have reasons for what they do. It is up to us to try and figure them out, compassionately.

(This is one I always need to be reminded of, when confronted by all the behaviors children exhibit in my classroom.)

  • Children need all their senses to be lively, especially their big body movements and tactile awareness.

(My daughter has been quarantining with her two young children in a small apartment in Spain. She has done a great job with setting up obstacle courses inside and providing lots of slime, shaving cream, dry beans, and painting on toes for tactile stimulation! I’m so proud of my daughter for knowing all that is important!)

  • Nothing you can buy is more fun than water.

(I remember the fun kids had building long water and mud courses, going down the hill, with plastic gutters. No matter how cold, we would turn on the hose to let the water travel the path they created, then let them re-create it!)

  • We all need to play outdoors, in all weather.

(One of my nicest days recently was spent gardening in the drizzle.)

  • You can enjoy being outdoors in all weather if you just dress right.

(One of my favorite memories of St. C’s was the mitten box. Do you remember, we had boxes of random, unmatched mittens and we took them out on cold days to layer up all the kids with double mittens?)

I also wanted to share three memories. Do you remember how before school started you would have children visit the playground one at a time? You used that time to observe them. One student who was to be in my class, Zibby, you assessed in this way. After watching her for a few minutes on the playground by herself, you told me that Zibby would need extra help with expressing her needs and with her social relationships with other children. And of course it all came to be true. I decided you were a “child whisperer” with almost magical powers!

Another time, my co-teacher had our children making lovely red birds, putting red fiber around cotton balls and tying with string to form head, body and tail. But of course it was mostly the teacher doing the work because it was too difficult for young hands. You gently asked my co-teacher, “Now, explain to me what this is doing for the children?” I took away that important assessment for all my assignments- am I having kids do it for me (my satisfaction at a lovely product, which will go home to pleased parents), or for their own growth and development (no matter how messy that may look?)

Finally, I remember after one, now forgotten incident on the playground, you said to me, casually, “Now I see you are a teacher of boys, too, as well as girls.” I knew I was stronger with girls, having two of my own and because of my natural tendencies, and I took that funny comment as a serious compliment.

As you stay mostly at home and deal with health issues, I hope you will remember all the good work you have done. For the children who grew up so beautifully in their St. C’s home, but also for the adults you were growing as teachers and better people.

Thank you so very much for your guidance in my growth as a teacher of young children, Karen.

I wish you sunshine and green growing things, family and friends, love and laughter.

All my best,

F.

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