A Letter of Goodbye
I remember the moment I fell in love with the Oaks. I had loved the special cards about social justice, stereotypes and wolves Gail made inviting me to join her in Kindergarten as a co-teacher. I had loved meeting Dana, who sported a piece of scotch tape in mid-brow reminding her to keep her face placid as she took care of her class….but it was the parent belly dancer jingling in the courtyard as I arrived for a final interview that clinched the deal.
And so I came.
Gail left the year after for a while to have a family. Hello Nathan, our very first fire juggler at the Oaks Circus. We added a fifth grade. We added a sixth grade.
True to our mission, all members of the community contributed to and worked tirelessly together to create an emotionally safe yet intellectually challenging community for learning. Faculty, Administration, Parents and Board worked to safeguard our school’s future by collaboratively documenting our mission and philosophy. We decided, a bit tremulously, to seek accreditation after six years of operation…and we got full accreditation the first time out!…..no meager task.
In Kindergarten, every morning started with a song. Rocking chair circle was born. The Mighty Kindergarten Bill of Rights was conceived and put into motion by students. The Peace area was created. Gail taught us how to do council circle, and so we folded it in as needed. The class spent much of the day on what is now the multi-age yard, gardening, digging, woodworking, playing and problem solving. The church offered us space and we moved the Mighty Kindergarten out to the Cottage.
Parents helped us put in and maintain a garden that has become a haven for monarch butterflies and a young naturalist’s observation lab. Trees that had once stood tall in the multi-age yard had to be brought down, and so stumps for jumping in the K yard were created from them, and were replaced only recently by parents who understood the need for care and maintenance of a natural play space for children.
Parents helped put in pergolas for shade and as home for honeysuckle…because Kindergarten is a German word that means “children’s garden”. A plum tree was planted as a parting gift from a family who moved to another school. Our kitchen area was re-imagined and painted in Frida Kahlo colors in honor of teachers and art. Our need for cubby space was responded to by parents who built outside cubbies, opening up more inside space for projects. Most do not know that each cubby building has an attic, and inside each attic small fairies were placed by a Dad to watch over kids and keep them safe.
A parent artisan created beautiful wooden benches for needed seating as well as for stability when used by kids for jumping upon to make important statements, tell jokes, or sing. A dream for a sheltered playspace on Imagination Hill and a climbing structure in the sand was made real. By parents.
Parents responded to our need for a new bunny hutch with the now famous “Taj–Ma-Bunny.” You may not know this, but no one has ever, no one will ever, no one can ever, bump their head on the roof.
Parents have jumped in to help on so many occasions in generous and creative ways for the benefit of our kids. You are all amazing. Thank you for sharing the dream, doing the work, and helping to make the magic happen. Thank you for everything.
I have loved this place…And all of you. And I always will.
And so now I go.
I have put my guitar in its case and my memories in a box and am gone from the cottage.
I leave you all to take care of things. The Mighty Kindergarten Cottage, Hummingbird Hill, Imagination Hill, the Action Zone, sand, paint, clay, marbles, blocks, rocks, glitter, bugs, the spirit of childhood and each other.
And last but not least….
The spirit and responsibility of the
Mighty Kindergarten Bill of Rights.
“All people have the right to be included.
All people have the right to be respected.
All people have the right to stand up for
With Respect and Affection,
Christine the Bean
ADDENDUM August 2013-talking to kids
It is important that kids understand that nothing they did made me go away. It is not their fault in any way. Nothing they wished or imagined could make me go away-even when we disagreed about things, or got angry with each other. I remain their teacher and friend. Forever. I went away because of adult issues, “grownup stuff” that had nothing to do with them.