In the past week we’ve experienced more transitions at the Seed than at any other time of the year. Last Wednesday we held graduation for our oldest students. It was a time of celebration, and a time of letting go. As a community we brought closure with families that have been a part of the Seed for many years, some more than a decade. Although we all recognize that these children are ready for the opportunities of new school settings, it’s hard to say goodbye to a child with whom we’ve spent so much time. Because we’re a small school, we get to know individual children on a deeper basis, and that’s what’s hard to let go of when they move on.
In addition to our graduates, we held classroom award celebrations in each room. One by one, children stood at the front of the room beside their teachers and were given special recognition. They were celebrated for unique interests, super powers like kindness and compassion, and accomplishments that enhanced the whole community. Many of our older preschoolers, who have been Seeds since they were tiny one-year-olds, leave the Seed each year to attend public schools. This is another transition and another goodbye, for the children and their teachers.
Our staff has transitioned, too. Only part of our wonderful teachers stay on to be a part of our summer art camp staff. Some go off for summer adventures, and others stay close to home and to the Seed. Since we have five summer classes instead of our regular nine, several of our lead teachers transition to a different age group for our summer session. Even though they are experienced teachers, it does take a bit of adjustment, to a different grade level as well as a new group of children. We also have new and returning staff who only work in the summer who are also adjusting to their new assignments this year.
Our summer classes tend to all be multiage groups, filled with current Seed students, previous children who have attended other schools for the regular school year, and brand new children who have never been in a school setting before, some never away from their parents or family members. Added into that mix are currently enrolled children who have moved up to a new class and/or teacher. It’s a lot of adjusting for everyone, and in the beginning there are often tears.
As we’ve moved through this first week of adjustments, transitions, and getting to know each other in new ways, a couple observations stand out. First, I am continually impressed with our talented staff and their immediate, creative responses to new challenges. One teacher, with a young student sad to be away from her family, came up with a system to help her get through the day. The teacher wrote every item in their daily schedule on the whiteboard, then erased each one as it was finished. The child could visually see that she was progressing through the day, with the completion of each activity bringing her that much closer to pickup time. The toddler teachers creatively made use of the adjacent empty classroom for nap time, allowing more active play for those still getting used to napping at school, while others who needed to sleep could do so in a quieter room.
Secondly, as I watched one of our seasoned toddlers walk confidently into school with her mom this week, I remembered how tiny she was last year at this time. She, too, went through a transition similar to some of her classmates. Witnessing this happy, confident little person gave me hope that we’ll all get through this transition time, and end up having a most memorable summer together.