I went back 'home' to visit my mom in New York during April Vacation. I always find some kind of item in my old room which my mom has left to greet me; an article ripped from a newspaper that she thinks will resonate with me, a book she read and liked, an old photo that she has found ~ usually of me and an old friend/classmate or once in a while a new gift, although, usually small and whimsical. Regardless of item, I always feel especially 'welcomed' back home.
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to feel welcome. Just before vacation, one of the 'moms' here at school called me to talk about her overall experience(s) as a parent of a child at our school. She is one of a few parents who have children at both Robertson and Captain Hunt. She spoke in detail about the differences she perceives between the two schools. I was saddened that she, her children and extended family did not feel welcome at both schools but instead only very welcome at one. I truly appreciated her candor and honor it as an opportunity to reflect with faculty, staff and other families. What can we do together to create the most welcoming schools for all of our children and families? What defines 'welcome?' I do not have an answer to that question yet but with my colleagues, including our i3 collaborators, Karen and Julissa, I am eager to work to define and realize a truly 'welcoming early learning community'.
I am hopeful that a good place to start will be with our soon to be Parent Advisory Council, comprised of parents and teacher representatives. I am hoping that the 8-10 parents and faculty/staff members who become the Parent Advisory Council will meet with me in June and maybe during vacation in order to think creatively about what we can do, especially in the fall, to welcome our families next year. How can we intentionally become the most welcoming environment for incoming Preschoolers and Kindergartners for the 2014-15 school year and define that plan as our Parent Council's first initiative for 2014-15. What can we greet them with that will make them feel especially welcome: a smile, a warm greeting, a "how are you ~really?
To nominate a parent for the PAC please find a nomination form on the back. I ask that you complete the form and nominate any Captain Hunt parent (or parent that will have a child at Captain Hunt and/or Robertson next year) to be on the Council. We will consolidate the nominations and send out a ballot with all of the nominations for you to review, complete, return to school and, hopefully, by June we will have a group of 8 parents (and then, a few faculty members) who will comprise an Advisory Council for 2014-15 for Robertson and Captain Hunt Schools.
For some of you, we are quickly coming to a big transition for our kindergarten students, in less than two months they will be First Graders, and off to our elementary schools. Gosh, how the time flies. In order to make the transition as comfortable as possible, we will have some First Grade teachers at the June Robertson parent meeting and the students will take a trip to the First Grades in June. We hope everyone finds a warm welcome and much support during this milestone in your children's lives.
When I was home last week, I saw a box in my room; I unwrapped it and found two yellow 'wash cloths' inside; a little bit of my mom's 'welcome' in a box to carry back when I left. Undoubtedly, now, whenever I wash my face with them, I will remember my week in 2014 "back home." What can we leave our students and our families with that will make them remember the fond welcome they found in our Early Learning Community? What else we can do together to help everyone in our community feel a sense of belonging? How do we find a way to carry that welcome beyond our school doors? These are all questions we need to reflect upon as we embark on our journey to become a truly 'welcoming early learning community'.
Beth Tanner, MS Ed
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------(Please detach here and return this nomination form to school. Please nominate yourself or another parent to participate as a Member of the Early Childhood Parent Advisory Council for 2014-2015. Eight to te parents will participate for the year. After we receive all nominations on the form below, we will send ballots home in order for parents to vote on the nominations as this is a Parent Leadership opportunity. Thank you in advance for your nominations and support.)
2014-2015 Parent Advisory Council Nomination Form
I nominate ______________________________________________ (name of a parent who will have a child at M.I. Robertson School or Captain Hunt Early Learning Center in 2014-2015 school year.
Signed (Your signature here)_______________________________________________________