February 21, 2018
Dear Penngrove Families,
Oh, I have so much to say yet honestly, feel somewhat overwhelmed to the point of not knowing where to start. Ever been there? I sit here this evening, in the comfort of my home watching my sleeping baby boy, thinking of all this world has going on. Like you, I wonder how to help, what to focus on, where to spend my energy, and I think of a million things I can do, ways I can make our community stronger, areas I want to change or do a better job focusing on...the list goes on. It seems like my hopeful list of "to dos" gets longer and longer with each passing moment.
And then tomorrow comes. And tomorrow is filled with kids who need hugs. Students who forgot their snacks or maybe even their math notebook. Little faces who didn't remember to brush their teeth, are nervous to ask for help, want to be first in line. Kindergartners who left out letters in the alphabet, 6th graders who worry about junior high. Students who daydream in class thinking of a difficult family situation. A 3rd grader who just lost a pet, a 5th grader who struggles to make friends. I think of the six year old piecing together reading while overhearing way too much grown up talk, the 4th grader who is still upset from a wall ball game at recess. These are the things that can haunt me if I let them.
Our sweet little country school is filled with so many stories. Stories that deserve more. More support, more love, more kindness. For every forgotten snack, there is a staff member who bought an extra box of granola bars at Target last night. For every student looking for a friend, there is a parent sharing encouraging words of wisdom. For the 3rd grader who lost a pet, there's a counseling office with extra tissue and a plethora of stuffed animals. For the students working so hard to master reading, there are night time snuggles and good night stories. There are daily successes, huge wins, and even the smallest of accomplishments that earn continual positive praise.
I guess in times like this when it's difficult to hear the news, hard to talk to kids about life, when calendars are way too full...one thing we can all do is to stop. Just stop and be. Be present with each other, with your children, and with your families. We can listen to our little ones. We can harness their innocence and keep them young for a while longer. We can put down our phones and iPads and pick up a book or grab some fresh air together. Heck, we can even have dance parties in our kitchens and eat ice cream for dinner.
Last week, on Valentine's Day, our staff spent time in downtown Petaluma together as a team. We sipped lattes at Della Fattoria, nibbled on pastries, then moseyed on over to Copperfield's Bookstore to pick out some classroom treasures. Glamorous, huh? Don't get me wrong, we had the longest "to do" list back at the ranch. IEPs, SSTs, conferences, report cards, team discussions, new curriculum implementations, class placements for the new year, emails, reflections on best teaching practices, safety conversations, the list goes on. But for that afternoon, we chose connection. We chose to stop and just be. As I parked my car in the parking structure and walked to meet the group, the almost hidden sign pictured below caught my eye. It was subtle and nestled in between some lovely flowers. It read, "Now more than ever...be kind."
At Penngrove, we want your children to be academically strong. We want them to be socially mature. We strive to foster friendships, to teach confidence, and to strengthen skills that will make life long learners out of each and every one of our students. But above all else, when I stop and just be, I realize that all I really want for each and every one of our 399 students, is that they will now, more than ever, be kind.
What will you change? Where will you carve out more time? What statement can you make to show your children that you are never too busy, too consumed, too tired. They need us now. We know they are resilient and they likely won't cry out for help. But I'll cry for them. I'll beg. I'll keep fighting. I'll keep going until each and every one of them knows they are loved, they are treasured, and that they are our hope. I hope you'll join me. Because now, more than ever, they need us.
(To read the entire Penngrove Press Newsletter, click here.)