Dear MPS Families,
I hope that you had a great time this last month celebrating the start of fall with your little one. We have had some of everything: beautiful sunny warm days, windy days, drenching rain, stunning fall colors, fog, increasing darkness, pumpkins, hikes and more. November will take us the rest of the way where brown will become our dominant color scheme, the days will shorten even more and we will find ourselves craving warm and satisfying comfort food.
We will be busy this month as usual (I wonder if there is a month where we aren’t up to something special?) with some special classroom traditions. Early in the month, I will read a couple of fun books: Pumpkin Soup and The Quilt Makers Gift. The first book, Pumpkin Soup, gives me an excuse to make pumpkin soup in the classroom with the kiddos. It will be vegan and gluten free – and packed full of yummy Vitamin A rich veggies! The kids love to help cook and I will be up to a lot of that with them this month.
We will also be holding our own Apple Tasting this month, and making applesauce of course.
The second book, The Quilt Makers Gift, presents the opportunity to talk with the kids in class about the fact there are indeed people in our communities who do not have the financial resources to feed themselves and their families. This is a catalyst for us to kick off our annual food drive and our fund raising effort to buy warm winter coats and gear. All food and coats will be donated to Neighborhood House in Multnomah Village. They are a member of the Oregon Food Bank network and operate the Food Pantry for SW Portland and serve many families through their varied social service programs. We have partnered with them for many years.
I will let you know when I read The Quilt Makers Gift to your kids as you should be prepared for the conversations that may come up around it. When talking to your children about our neighbors who need help, remember to use “People First” language. Never refer to folks in need as ‘the poor’ or ‘disadvantaged’. It is important that we help children to see the humanity in all of our citizens. People need help for all kinds of reasons – and being a member of a caring community is a wonderful opportunity to learn about our shared responsibilities for helping each other out when a need arises. I will talk a little more about this at our November General Meeting (Thursday, November 17th).
I will be placing the food drive barrel in the classroom soon and the kids will help me make posters to put up letting you know it is time to bring in non-perishable foods. The cash jar will make its appearance soon as well. We are going to try to raise $350 to $400 dollars in cash. The pre-k students will be given the task of taking those funds and shopping for as many coats and warm clothes as possible. Do what you can to help us along with this task as well. I have already had two offers of help to gain access to the Columbia Sportswear Employee Store. All help – whether it be cash donations or access to great deals to make the money go farther are much appreciated!
In the middle of the month, I will read the children a collection of Stone Soup folktales. This story is about a homeless traveler who is hungry and needs help. Through the use of a sharp wit and a little encouragement, they find a way to eat and to teach a lesson on kindness and sharing. On Thursday November 17th (3’s Class and Pre-k) and Friday, November 18th (4’s Class) we will hold our Stone Soup parties in each class.
On your child’s day, please send a vegetable to add to our soup. It can be anything: carrots, celery, zucchini, corn, broccoli, potato, sweet potato, beans, peas – you name it. I have a special ‘soup stone’ and I bring the onions, garlic, broth and herbs/spices. Everything else is whatever the kids bring. I will help them prepare and add their vegetable to the soup which will be cooking during class. Then at the end of class (10:45 for morning classes and 2:45 for Pre-k) you or another special guest should plan on returning to the classroom to enjoy a soup party with us. Please bring a side dish to share at our potluck (making sure it is nut free). It is a super fun tradition and I hope you will all be able to join us. If you have any problem finding someone to attend with your child (e.g. your work schedule won’t allow you to attend, no family in town, etc.) please be sure to let me know in advance so we can make plans to cover so your child will still feel special and happy!
That same night (November 17) is our General Community meeting. Another fun November tradition at MPS is this is the night that the staff will cook dinner for all of you. This is something I started doing years ago as a way to express our deep gratitude for everything you put into being a member of a cooperative school! Every single member of our community fills an important role in making this place click. There are jobs that are very visible such as our auction leaders and we are pretty good at expressing our gratitude for the big stuff. But there are so many other jobs and tasks that get done on a regular basis as well and some of those jobs are almost invisible. Did you know that Maija Ryan has been washing all of our towels since school started? Or that Danielle Mudd keeps our water bottles for our cooler full of filtered water so we never have to drink from the old pipes in the building? Housecleaning, leaf raking, making our play dough and tracking participation in our required coop duties, ordering and organizing scholastic books, buying all of our non-curriculum based supplies (you know – toilet paper, light bulbs, compost bags and more!), organizing our emergency supplies (food and equipment) so we are ready if we ever need to shelter the kids in place – all of these tasks and many more are done each month. The work you do to make the school run makes my job easier and it also is the glue that holds our community together. There are not enough words for me to express my gratitude – so I do it with FOOD!
Please try hard to make it to this general meeting and come hungry. We will start serving dinner at 6:30pm. There will be several different offerings for main dishes, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten free for those who need it and a beautiful salad. We decorate the room and eat by candle light and just share a lovely time together before we launch into the business portion of the meeting.
We have several days out of the classroom this month. Friday the 11th of November is the Veteran’s Day holiday. And of course there will be no school on Thursday the 24th and Friday the 25th for the Thanksgiving holiday. Please let me know if your child will be missing school around any of our holidays this month by writing it on the planned absences form on the front door.
Please note that I will be traveling for Thanksgiving this year to New York City to spend the holiday with my son and some very dear friends. As such I will be gone from Tuesday 11/22 through Tuesday, 11/29. Teacher Amanthus and Teacher Lisa will be subbing for me and the classroom will be fully staffed. I will talk to the kids about being gone for a few days – but if you have a child who gets ruffled by changes in their routine, you will want to help them anticipate and feel secure during my absence.
We do not have another field day or field trip until December 1st and 2nd when we will go hike in the Tualatin Hills Nature Park.
That’s it for me for this edition of the newsletter. Thank you Kim Rivers for putting the newsletter together each month and helping us stay connected! (See? Another one of those school jobs!) Each and everyone of you and your children will be in my heart on Thanksgiving Day when I reflect on the richness of my life and the abundance of love I experience daily. May your holiday be filled with love and happiness, family and fun.