Over the weekend a snake slithered into the Seed. Somewhere between parent/teacher conferences and early Monday morning, the snake, a new digging spot, pots and pans mounted on the fence and a log meeting circle appeared in the Preschool 2.5/3s’ outdoor area. In a short time, the space was transformed into an inviting dirt-floored classroom. Weeds were removed and individual spaces for specific activities were designated by adobe blocks. It was a happy surprise.
When I went to check out the children in action in their new space, there was activity in every area. One child sat by herself happily in the middle of the coiled green snake. Several children played in the shady corner where the log circle is, the same place where they later had Spanish outdoors. A curly-haired boy was busily digging under the tree where all the trucks and construction toys were lined up. Three others attended to the garden, one with a hose and the other two digging up mud. A proud girl excitedly shared her freshly picked green pea, first in her hand and then partially chewed in her mouth. Everyone was engaged, delighted, happy. Throughout the day, teachers, parents and other classes stopped by to see the new space, offering praise and congratulations. The snake and its new environment provided a sweet beginning for the new week.
In my writing about the school, I try not to single out individual teachers or children, to keep things fair and equal as much as possible. Everyone works hard every day. We work as a team. While different staff members step to the forefront from time to time, most prefer to do their work with as little attention as possible drawn to themselves. It’s all about the children and providing them with the best educational experience possible. In fact, that’s what the arrival of the snake was all about. That said, I also think it’s important to acknowledge greatness, especially when it’s done with such humility.
As I caught my first glimpse of the happy snake in its new place, I saw much more than the physical results. I witnessed a teacher’s vision of what her students needed to extend their learning. I saw an invitation to experience the natural world with a few new props in order to deepen the relationship with the earth. I noticed a commitment to teaching that goes beyond meeting minimum requirements of lesson planning and showing up for each day. And I observed a teacher’s passion for her life work, an expression of love for the children in her care. On behalf of us all, I want to thank Mindy for her artistic creation of such a beautiful, inspiring space in which her students can be with each other and the natural world. This kind of work, done without being asked and without fanfare, is what sets our Seed teachers apart. I won’t be surprised if other happy snakes appear around the school in the very near future.