Thirty-six years ago I gave birth to my second daughter, and six months later, a school. Astraea and Awakening Seed have been closely tied ever since. Her first year she spent most of her time swinging and smiling, learning to walk, and holding her own with all of the other much older preschoolers. One of my most vivid memories of this was the day we took a field trip on the city bus to a downtown hotel where one of the dads was the manager. Taking a break in a carpeted lounge, one of our more athletic four-year-olds launched into a cartwheel. It was a well executed cartwheel, and unfortunately Astraea was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was knocked down like a bowling pin. Needless to say, she popped right back up and has been going strong ever since.
After completing fourth grade at the Seed, she went off to public school. It was hard for me to let her go, but necessary, since she’d finished the last grade level offered by the Seed. Early in the year she came home one day and tossed her spelling book on the table, demanding, “What’s this?” Her Seed education filled with studies of high interest topics and a focus on planetary stewardship evidently hadn’t prepared her for the world of standardized textbooks. She eventually adjusted and went on to graduate from both ASU and NAU, now holding a Masters in educational leadership. Throughout her high school and college years, Astraea always returned to the Seed. She was a teaching assistant, a lead teacher in the summer, and eight years ago, after several years of teaching in the public schools, became the assistant director.
Working with family members definitely has its challenges. It also has its blessings. My time of sharing administration duties with Astraea was mostly blessings. Stepping into the directorship after being a classroom teacher was a big adjustment for me. Other capable people handled many of the director tasks for years and I gave my most focused energy to the classroom. When I left the classroom, I was forced to shift my attention to leadership. What Astraea did most skillfully was convince me, in her kind but tenacious way, to take action when necessary, which sometimes meant just listening. She helped me with a lifelong habit of instantly resisting ideas I disagreed with by asking me to hear her out and at least consider alternatives. I’ve learned to take deep breaths in these situations and put my inner voice on mute, if only momentarily. I’ve stepped more gracefully into my role as a leader in large part due to Astraea’s influence. She’s cheered me on when I had to use my brave talk and given countless hours helping me process issues with which I needed help. I’ve depended on her as she has, in many respects, trained me to stand on my own.
Last year Astraea was preparing to leave the Seed, since all of her children would be attending the public school where their father is the principal and they live a long way from the Seed. When I discovered that we were about to undergo a significant number of lead teacher changes, I begged her to stay for one more year. She graciously agreed and has spent much of this past year putting systems and practices in place that will bring ease to our future.
In just a handful of days, Astraea will finish up her Seed career. She has accepted a kindergarten position at the school where her children attend (their dad will take over the principalship of a different school) and I know the children and families she’ll work with will be touched deeply by her presence in their lives. As the spiral of life takes yet another turn, I am glad that Astraea’s life and the Seed’s have been so connected. We will find new ways of spending time together and the Seed’s future will shine brighter, having had her among us so long.