Friday, June 29, 2012


 a·lo·ha/əˈlōˌhä/ Hawaiian word used when greeting or parting from someone.

Aloha all! This is always a bittersweet time of year. As we prepare for our BIG transition, lots of goodbyes are happening but also tons of exciting hellos. I am saying goodbye to my stellar Mighty Me’s, some of which I have had for 2.5 years. And it is gut wrenching! The kids? Oh, they are fine. More then fine, they are uber excited and ready to explore their new class community. It’s the tethered adults that have a hard time- myself most definitely included.  We do our best to keep it upbeat and offer it as an exciting new adventure, but let’s be honest, there are more than a few grown-up tears too on our last days. We share such an awesome task- the nurturing of your beautiful child. It is a strong tie with the whole family, and one not always easy to re-adjust. BUT, we are confident that new roots will grow and your kids will flourish as they are presented with new experiences, new teachers, and new friends.  

This place is like a bee-hive these days- teachers buzzing around preparing for their new kids and sending up their current ones. It is a joyful time of celebration and reflection. Throughout this last year, our teachers have poured their hearts and souls into their jobs, lesson plans, and kids. As teachers we have lots of favorite memories of our year, but it is infinitely more fun to ask the kids.

I asked them: “What is your most favorite thing you did in class this year?” 

Lucas, 3: My favorite part is when we learned about llamas” (Adult translation- when we did a study of Bolivia- the culture, food, geography, etc. Kids view? We studied llamas. Perfection)

Andy J, 4 “I liked playing outside, and I like bugs.”

Gib, 4 “Pizza!” I was skeptical of this response because pizza is my friend Gib’s default answer for everything. He clarified further. “We ate pizza at a party for Niko. Grover and Colin”. 

Leo, 4 “Doing that butterfly parade, but I don’t remember anything else.” 

Julie, 4 “Yeah. We liked that butterfly parade.” 

Callum, 3 “My favorite thing in class in playing with ENGINE (said with true vim and vigor). 

Kai, 2 (Holding a firetruck in one hand) “Firefighters!” (Now lifting a hand with the dinosaur) “Ommm, ommmm, ommmm!” 

Isabelle, 3 “Cleaning-up”  (Really? So awesome) 

Phoebe, 3 “I liked the bumblebee (in Ms. Val’s circle bag). I learned my letters and sounds”  

Will, 3 “I like to count”

Colette, 2 “My Mommy and Daddy” 

Vera, 1 (Pointing furiously) “Dat! Dat! Meow, meow, meow”. I’m not sure what this means, but it sure is cute. 

Jacob, 3 “Sharks! Whale sharks are biggest fish, and great white sharks are the biggest hunter fish. But also the pirate ship. That was my very best part.”

Ben, 3 “Playing with my friend Cannon”

Thank you kids, parents and teachers alike for a wonderful year! We look forward to all the amazing new terrain to explore together next year. So aloha to you and yours!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dear Class of 2012 (aka Class of 2025)

What happened? Weren’t you all just babies? How is it you are heading off to kindergarten in a few weeks? We met many of you when you were teensy babies- Ms. Shannon’s first group as a matter of fact. Slowly you all joined us, and brought so much sunshine to each and every day. Just yesterday we were rocking you to sleep, now we are watching you skitter across the monkey bars, seemingly part monkey yourself. Remember when we used to go on walks in the woods? You were new to walking, and still unsteady on your feet. You tripped going over that log and were so discouraged you cried. We held your hand and tried again. Now you blaze through the forest, leaping and flying like any number of mythical animals. Every time one of you was potty trained it was like a victory cry.  We did it! YOU did it! And how you made us laugh! We taught you, but really you taught us too. We showed you how to make mud pies, but you showed us how to smash it with every part of your body. We showed you where the sandbox was, you showed us where the sand REALLY should be... i.e anywhere but in the sandbox. We showed you how to balance on a tree, you showed us how you can brush yourself off when you fall.  How lucky we are to have been there with you these past few years. 
Some of our babies in 2006
These were giant developmental years for you, but one day you will probably forget your teachers at TLS. You’ll vaguely remember some crazy curly haired teacher that dipped you in paint, or maybe a willowy memory of digging out winding creeks with your friends trying to make a boat float. But mostly, we will fade into the back of your mind. Even so, we like to think that we will still be with you: in every mud puddle you attack, in every calming breath, in every cloud you imagine is a hawk (no wait, on old man... no a tree!)  there will be a little bit of us with you. We love each and every one of you, and sincerely thank you for sharing your incredible awesomeness with us!
So what are you going to do with all that we taught you? I asked the kids to tell me what they were going to be when they grew up. This is what they told me:

Lila A: “I’m going to be Lila!” 

Nicholas B: “A dare-devil motorcycle driver, and a person is going to race me”

Annabelle B: “I want to be everything” 

Xavier B: “A race car driver with a cannon on it"

Lakshman B: “A fireman”

Eric C: “A lego builder”

Ava C: “A horseback rider. My horse is going to be a white one”

Michael C: “A basketball player”

Chloe C: “A veterinarian”

Elyse C: “A teacher”

John F: “I want to be a pilot of planes that fly all around the state, and a basketball player.” 

Colin F: “I want to be a firefighter”

James F: “Paleontologist” 

Sierra G: “An artist and a teacher” 

Noah J: “I’m going to be a monster truck driver”

Una J: ”I want to be a... what are those ropes that hang in the air? In front of a stage? Oh yeah, a trapeze artist!” 

Vidya K: “A ballerina-artist”

Taylor K: “I want to be a horse rider and dancer, maybe a horse trainer and dancer”

Benjamin K: “ I want to be an ice-cream worker”

Carl K: “I’m just going to work- just work. I am going to wear what Daddy wears”

Eleanor L: “Each day I am going to do art”

Katy Bryn L: "An artist who paints at twilight and night. I will also be the kind of artist who takes breaks on Saturdays and Sundays to catch bugs and cool nature stuff"

Alexander L: “An artist that paints and draws”

Leighton M: I’m going to be a zookeeper. I’m going to feed all the lions”

Sammy M: “I’m going to be a teacher at this school, and then I am going to quit and be a veterinarian”

Graham M: “A race car driver. My car is going to be half red and half orange” 

Claire M: “I want to do gymnastics. Actually, I want to be a vet too”

Ellie M: “The Captain of a ship and sail wherever my boat can go”

Cyrus N: “A fast race car driver”

Fleury N: “A race car driver. Me and Xavier are going to be in the same car”

Sawyer P: "I to be a superhero, but I can't cause their not real"

Chloe Jane P: “I am going to be a builder. I am going to build buildings” 

Anna P: “I am going to be the same thing my sister is, but I don’t know what she is yet”

Lorelei R: “I’m going to be a painter... an artist. Actually, an artist and a yoga teacher”

Nathan R: “A rock star because I have really good dance moves

Luke R: “A fireman” 

Kathryn R: “I am going to be a teacher. I am going to teach art”

Mark S: “A scientist, a safari guy or an animal doctor”

Eric S: “A professional ice hockey player

Julie S: “I choose to stay with my family and help clean-up” 

Lyndon S: “ I am going to go to summer camp. When I am as tall as Daddy I am going to work sometimes, make money sometimes, build houses sometimes. That’s all I know so far”

Anna T: “An animal doctor” 

Elias T: “I’m going to be a lego maker, because I love legos”

Brenna W: “A veterinarian”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Staff Spotlight: Presenting the Amazing Amy A.

Amy as a "Star Bellied Sneech"
on Dr. Suess Day.
Originally from upstate New York, Amy and her husband have been living in North Carolina for the past six years.  Amy earned both her Bachelors and Masters in Early Childhood Education from Fredoina State. She came to The Little School in 2011 after teaching 1st grade in the Chapel Hill school system. Though she began her time at TLS as a teacher in "The Toddling Turtles" one year old room, she is now gearing up to lead a Pre-K room this July. With her years of experience teaching elementary education, combined with her love of younger kids, she makes the perfect teacher for this age. 

Her unique mixture of enthusiasm matched with a calming presence made us fall in love with her. Dependable to the core, you can always rely on Amy to make "it" happen. If there is a problem to solve, she's on it. She is eager to learn all she can to make herself a better teacher, and I have seen her go many extra miles in that pursuit. She is a reader and a dog lover, and we count ourselves extra lucky to have Amy in our midst. 

* How did you find your way to TLS?
After teaching reading and 1st grade in Chapel Hill for 4 years, I was looking for a school that would allow more freedom in the curriculum so that I could truly share what is in my heart with my students.

I think TLS is a beautiful place to work, on our wooded campus with all the flowers and gardens, I love every moment that we are learning together outside!

* What is your happiest childhood memory/what makes it so special?

Playing soccer was my saving grace and I have so many happy memories from practice pranks, games, sleepovers and tournaments on the road.  I wish I still had soccer practice to go to everyday.
Amy and her American Bulldogs Hova and Brooklyn

* What did you want to be when you were 12 years old?

An Astronaut. In 6th grade I went to the Challenger Space Shuttle museum on a field trip, where we were Astronauts for the day, I learned so much about NASA and space that day and it was so much fun to be with my whole class. 

* What would you listen to if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life?

Free Fallin by Tom Petty

* What is your favorite children’s book?

The first chapter book I ever read The Chalk Box Kid.

* What's your favorite tree or What is your favorite flower? (Why?)

My favorite tree is a Weeping Willow tree because I had one in my backyard growing up and there was also one on my grandparents farm.  I guess it always reminded me of them while they were far away.

* What would I find in your refrigerator right now?

Strawberries, Buffalo Sauce, Steak

* If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be?

A children’s author, I’m collecting stories as we speak!

* What words do you live by?

If it is to be, it’s up to me

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ch ch ch changes....

Many of our classrooms received mail-ordered caterpillars last week. We watched them creep around munching up their strange looking food as we encouraged the curious kids to be gentle with the little friends. The caterpillars began to leave shadowy looking webs in their wake as they inched their way up the side of the cup. Then one day like magic, each one was hanging upside down, spun up tight in its chrysalis. SOOO COOOL! Now the waiting begins. Every once in awhile one of the hanging critters stirs, and we all gasp in delight. Otherwise, the waiting game carries on. We know the painted butterflies are coming, but still the age old process seems shrouded in mystery....and I am not a patient women. Maybe it’s just the timing, or maybe I am feeling particularly nerdy, but this super cool metamorphosis is making me think of saying farewell to my sweet students.

By now, all the class rosters have been posted, and all the kids are slated for their new rooms. Come July 9th, all of our little “caterpillars” will be in new rooms. While it makes me a little weepy to be sending my children forth to new adventures, I know that they are going to *ahem* spread their wings and become beautiful butterflies... ok, now even I am rolling my eyes at myself. Even still, the process can be just as mysterious as those sci-fi looking cocoons. Like most things in life, you know it will be awesome, but it won’t be without effort and maybe a little fretting. How are we going to get there? Allow me to be your cruise director for this super metamorphosis roller coaster (oooh, so many metaphors!)

We began this process a few months back. In some cases it made sense for whole classes to move together. Other rooms had to do more shifting due to ages and stages. This year we set a personal record with THREE pre-kindergarten classes. Mary asked each team to come up with groupings of students that are dynamic duos or terrific trios (fabulous foursomes?) We also gave her a list of our oil and water pairings- kids that would thrive best with some space from one another. As you know, Mary also opened her door (and inbox) to your suggestions and wishes. Once we balanced personalities and energies (between students and teachers alike) Mary presented a rough list to the team leaders where there was even more wiggling and balancing. All in all, this process was jammed packed with a ton of attention and love on many people’s part. What I adore about this process is how much care was taken to create these groups. There was no copy and pasting here.
On the last teacher work day the new teams went from room to room to discuss the ins and outs of their new kids with their current teachers. As I walked around I saw note taking, sharing of portfolios, misty eyes, and even demonstrations of the best ways to pat a child to sleep. It was cute and so infused with TLS style tenderness. It made me love our teachers all over again.  

Now three months later, you have the lists! Plans are in place for kids to visit their new rooms and teachers to visit the kids. In the Mighty Me room, we have been talking about becoming beautiful butterflies migrating to new classes. We know that transitions can be just as hard on the parents as on the kids. We also know our kids can sniff out every emotion we have. Just remember, one of the biggest supports you can give them (and us) is staying strong and consistent! On Wednesday June 6th, we will host an informal meet and greet at 6:30. This will be a time for you to put names to faces and check out your kid’s new cocoons... I mean rooms. Ok, I’ll admit I’ve taken the butterfly thing too far.