I remember meeting as a community in August 2020, and trying to predict what was in store for us; we just didn’t know what to expect. We were ready to be open, then closed, shut down for weeks at a time, back in lockdown, trying to figure out remote learning and virtual community engagement options… And now here we are! Finishing this year together with love, sunshine, and (yes) still masks.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy of education was born from the ashes of WWII, when the entire population of a small town in Italy decided to reject fascism and destruction and instead focus on rebuilding their community, starting with the youngest members of the town, and fostering an atmosphere of respect for these young citizens with so much ahead of them to offer to the community and the world. This feels like such a timely message to focus on, and it is fitting that it would inspire us and permeate our community throughout this very strange time together during our pandemic school year.
It has actually been incredible what we’ve been able to accomplish this year, and that is all thanks to our amazing community of educators, children, and families. It has no doubt been a challenging year, but through it all our commitment to this community has been constant. The children have adjusted, if I may say even more seamlessly at times than the adults, to our “new normal.” They have all found ways to develop deep and meaningful relationships with their peers, their teachers, and their environments. Our Maples are now experts on the buildings and wildlife of our neighborhood and have brought so much knowledge (and so many sticks!) back from their adventures. Our Chestnuts have made their own Little Free Library, to share their love of books and reading with everyone around them, finding ways to connect even in times of distancing. The chicks they’ve hatched and cared for have also connected our community, as we all delight in their growth among the faculty, families, and other classrooms. Our Sequoias are now hugging their friends and teachers, learning each others’ names, running, crawling, or scooting up and down the ramp, and have even started a band. And this year, the Avocado Project connects us across classes and between homes and school--as children of all ages explored avocados, collected seeds at home, stopped to study pictures of themselves and other community members interacting with avocados on our shared wall space, and cared for the avocado plants sprouting all across our school, checking them daily to make sure they have what they need and monitoring their growth and progress.
I think it is safe to say that we’ve managed, against all odds, to stay true to the family spirit of TFC this year, even during a pandemic. And now we are coming out on the other side stronger and more confident than ever that we know how to provide children with the best possible ways to grow and thrive no matter what challenges are thrown our way.
I look forward to continuing to partner with everyone in our community, as we step cautiously out into the sunshine, and look towards brighter days ahead, in which we will continue to provide meaningful social experiences and deep connections to the world for our youngest, most resilient learners.
Wishing you all much love, health, and learning,
Director, The Family Cooperative