Lessons Learned From the Director’s Doorway
It’s my first year as the Director of Haytown Nursery School and I spent a lot of time over the summer working on the school in anticipation of the children’s arrival. While I worked, I would imagine what school would be like when school was in session. I’d think about things like:
- Will the new lightbulbs brighten the school on dark, rainy days?
- Did I pick pleasing paint colors for the halls, classrooms and outdoor spaces?
- What magical bits can be added?
- What it will be like standing at the Director’s door day after day?
As with many things in life, anticipation was different than reality. I never could have accurately imagined what lie ahead for me.
Here’s a bit of what I have learned:
New bulbs may help a little, but it’s the children that light up the school. They emit a brightness no wattage could match. Nothing – not rain nor dreary weather – holds them back. They are a constant source of energy, enthusiasm, curiosity, and excitement.
I’ve learned that the rain actually brings out the coolest creatures: spotted slugs, little frogs, and earth worms. These are the critters Mrs. Cole and Blackberry class love, but make Mrs. Yanchek squirm and run away.
Fresh wall paint is not nearly as beautiful as finger paint. Or glitter. Or melty crayon experiments. Or the deliberate and careful scrawl of a child’s name. Or the photos Mrs. Salvatore and Mrs. DeCou hung of our sweet little Blueberries on their first ever day of school. The paint colors I picked as pleasing because they are a mere backdrop for true and authentic beauty.
With regards to magic…here’s a quick little story…I had placed a gnome home, a simple garden statue, in our play yard for the children to find. The Strawberry class, our big kids, came across it and would visit every few days. Last week, they discovered that our gnome home had been pulverized to bits by the landscaper’s lawn mower.
This is where the real magic began. The children decided that the gnomes need a new residence and began planning. The class is making a new gnome house made of popsicle sticks, and this one will contain all comforts of a proper house – the lucky gnomes will have beds, a kitchen, even a toilet. Mrs. Rodenberger and Mrs. Savage are amazing at encouraging the kids and allowing them to expand and grow.
We don’t provide the magic, but the launch pad. The magic exists in the children; that’s where fairies, gnomes, and rainbow dragons come to life.
And lastly, this is what it is like standing at the Director’s door:
Children purely and honestly exhibit what it means to be a person. When they are happy, they penguin waddle, ballet dance and dinosaur march down the hall without abandon. There is a lot of singing – I hear A LOT of singing of made up songs. It’s amazing.
When they are sad, or angry, or frustrated, children feel it fully. In those moments, we, as adults and educators, are offered the opportunity for connection. These moments are gifts – chances to teach the children about their emotions, relating to others, self-regulation, and healthy ways to express themselves. They open a small door and invite us in. Adults don’t often do that, but children will.
Early mornings and in the afternoon, when the students aren’t present, the teachers congregate in my office and I am surrounded by the most creative, passionate, and wise professionals. I am fortunate to work with such a generous and experienced team who give their heart and souls to the children and the school.
I am also grateful for the Board of Directors – they are volunteers who work hard to make Haytown
a better place. They remind me of the superhero teams our students like so much – the Justice League, Avengers, X-Men. Each possesses unique talents and strengths, and when they unite, they become an incredible force for good.
I get the best hugs, smiles and high fives and they aren’t always from the little ones. Our parents are so generous, thoughtful, and kind. Our policy is that parents and caretakers drop-off and pick-up inside the school at the classroom door. This small act makes a big difference in so many ways. I enjoy watching connections being made and adult friendships form.
As we move into the new year, I’m so excited for what lies ahead! Here’s to more connections, more learning, more opportunity, and many more new and lively made up songs.