More than a year ago, Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquito and his wife, Kay Johnson, both professors at the University of Rhode Island gifted me with a beautiful plant at the end of the school year. I don’t have my grandmother’s knowledge of botany but it was three plants potted together in a beautiful array of green love. Many months and one crazy winter inside later, the coiffed, perfect plant is no more and instead, it has grown together in a single quest for the sun. It has been hanging on our porch in Boston all summer, though, and it brings me incredible joy as I walk up the steps each night.
Each Friday during the school year, Dr. Paul and Mrs. Kay arrive in Central Falls around 9am after their one-hour drive from Kingston. They walk in with a gaggle of graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Rhode Island and ever-present smiles. Together, with their students, they Teach Peace through the Second Step program. Utilizing puppets with the apt names, ‘Puppy,’ ‘Bunny’ and my personal favorite, ‘Slow Down Snail,’ they intentionally teach our little ones Social Skills; such as, what it means to say ‘I’m Sorry’. They also teach the children how to use: Eyes Watching, Ears listening, Body Still, Voice Quiet. (School rules that bind our early learning community together.) Dr. Paul and Mrs. Kay also periodically gift parents with the Second Step Parenting Workshops and overall guidance as Master Educators to all in our professional community. They are just two of the many volunteers who support our early learning community. They and the Second Step program help us to gift the children, and you parents, with a framework that provides the foundation of safety for our classroom communities. On these building blocks, we work together with you and your family to help your child to fall in love with learning. As you know, this year, we hope to teach your Kindergartner to read fluently and your preschooler to not only learn their name and the letters in their name but as many letters and sounds as possible.
The plant hanging on our porch looks a little bit unruly right now. It is truly ‘beauty’ that no one could have planned but happened because of love, water and direct access to the sun. It reminds me of the true ‘beauty’ that happens here when the teachers, staff and I work together with you ~ our parents and volunteers like Dr. Paul and Mrs. Kay; the possibility is limitless.
Beth Tanner, MS Ed