Letter from Teacher Marty–November 2018

Dear MPS Family,


October was a busy month for us at the school.  Thank you to everyone for getting such a great start on auction procurement.  We are close to the half way mark and that is just fabulous. I hope you enjoyed out pumpkin patch trips and even through I am writing this in advance, I am keeping my fingers crossed that our Marshall Park day went well and everyone showed up with proper outerwear for the weather!


The Harvest Party was lots of fun.  It was so great to see the kids in their costumes, dancing and having such a good time.  Thank you to Christy Neuworth and Sarah Bain for organizing and hosting and all of you who brought food to share and who helped with set up, staffed the craft tables and games, and of course the clean up crew!


Coming up in November, we have a couple of days off: November 12th for Veteran’s Day; and November 22nd and 23rd for Thanksgiving.  Be sure to get those on your calendars. I have also posted a schedule for fall parent teacher conferences. If you wish to have a chance to speak one on one with me about your child’s development, progress in school and any parenting questions or challenges you may have, be sure to sign up for a spot.  If there are not dates available that work for you, let me know and we can figure something out together.


Also important to get on your schedule is the November General Meeting on Thursday the 15th.  Please plan on arriving early and come hungry for dinner! (Dinner will be served beginning at 6:30pm.) Staff will prepare dinner and serve you as a thank you for all that you do for us and MPS.  Feed your kids early and if you can, get a sitter so you and your partner can both come! It could be like a mini date night. We turn down the lights, decorate the tables, light candles and do our best to pamper you a bit.  The first part of the evening will be a presentation by a dear friend of Multnomah Playschool, Dr. Lynn Collins, on Making Meaningful Holidays. I haven’t figured out this year’s menu yet, but rest assured there will be something for everyone including vegan and gluten free fare.


In the classroom this month we will be talking about issues of hunger and homelessness in developmentally appropriate ways depending on the age of the children.  We have some lovely books that will help stimulate conversations and we will be working towards the idea of collective responsibility and caring for our neighbors and fellow citizens – each of us sharing according to our ability.  We will hold a food drive to collect non-perishable foods which we will deliver to the food pantry at Neighborhood House in Multnomah Village. We will also begin to collect cash donations which will be used by the Pre-k students to purchase warm coats, hats and gloves which will also be donated to Neighborhood House and distributed to the children of families who need them.


The idea of families that cannot afford food, warm coats or housing is a foreign concept for most of our kids.  It is going to bring on some confusion and dissonance as we talk about it. Developmentally, preschool aged children have very limited ability to conceptualize money and the value of work.  And in fact, money is mostly invisible to them as we pay for things ‘online’ and by using plastic cards in machines or apps on phones. This will present an opportunity for you to talk to your child about how your family gets money and how you use it.  


And you also have an opportunity to talk to them about basic human rights and necessities.  Regardless of your political beliefs, we can all agree that all children deserve access to healthy foods, a warm and dry place to live and clothes to wear, and access to quality health care and education.   When things go wrong for a family, parents try really really hard to continue to meet those basic needs. And sometimes they need some help. We cannot know everyone’s story but we can reach out and do our best to help lift up our neighbors and recognize our shared humanity.


Please let me know if you want to talk more on this topic.  It is something I am passionate about and eager to support our children as they try to make sense of the world.  


To celebrate this season of giving and encourage the idea of sharing our bounty with others, we will have a Stone Soup Party in each class (4’s class on November 19th; Pre-K and 3s classes on November 20th).  We will make a pot of soup together in class with each child bringing  one ingredient for a pot of vegetable soup. The last 45 minutes of class, you are invited to return with a side dish to share and enjoy a potluck party with your class. I will send out more information as it gets closer, but for now, get that date on your calendars and make sure someone is able to come and join your child for their class party.


On another note, there have been so many horrific, violent events in our country in the last few weeks that we cannot get away from the fact that we are a nation struggling with the fear of others who are different, with the desire to reduce people to stereotypes and archetypes, and to see the worst in each other when we differ on fundamental issues.  As I said at the last general meeting, please do your best to keep the flood of tragic news and occurrences from becoming a topic that dominates your child’s life – even vicariously through listening to the conversations of adults or the news on the tv, radio or podcasts you may listen to. If they seem upset about something, or they appear to be growing fearful – begin by asking them what they heard and what they are worried about or thinking about.  


If you have been upset, you can let them know that somethings have happened in our country that are very concerning for you and that you have some big feelings.  If they ask you what happened, give them only the information they can understand or handle. A 3 year old cannot understand that a person would take a gun into a place of worship and brutally murder a group of people he decided were not worthy of life because of who they were.  But you can tell them that a grown up did something very bad and hurt a lot of people and that you are sad/mad/upset. You can also reassure them that you are alright and that you are looking for ways to help make things better – that is important that we all work together to make our world safer and more fair.  


I am always available to talk these things through with you, you just have to ask.  And while there are scary things, there are also always people who are working to help.  As Mr. Rogers always said, “look for the helpers”. Even when we feel the darkest, there are always people who are reaching for the light and striving to bring us all along together.  


My goal is to teach peace, equality, responsibility, love and action.  We must all work together without stop to make this world a better and safer place for everyone, but especially for the children.


I wish you moments of peace, joy and gratitude for the blessings in your life and hopefully some time to spend deeply connecting with your family this month.  Remember yourself to look for the helpers and the light and to lend encouragement and support to those who are on the front lines working for peace and justice every day. I remain eternally grateful for the chance to be a part of your and your children’s lives and to have the opportunity to do work that is deeply meaningful to me as we work to help children struggle to make meaning of the world in which they live.  


I am holding each of you in my heart,


Teacher Marty