Letter from Teacher Marty (Oct 2015)

Hi Everyone,

Did you spend Sunday evening out looking at the lunar eclipse? I remember that when I was a child, natural phenomena like this seemed so full of mystery and excitement. Is it still that way for today’s children, or was that an artifact of growing up in a time with no home computers or Internet, and the TV being limited to two stations, both of which went to test patterns at 10pm?

On my most recent trip home to Alaska to visit my sister we sat reminiscing about fond memories from our childhoods. One we enjoyed remembering from our different perspectives was the joy we experienced as a family watching the World Championship Sled Dog Race, a three day event out of Anchorage. This was of course back in the time when they never had to worry about having enough snow!

We would go downtown for the start on the first day to watch the dogs being put into their harnesses and then watch them take off like rockets at the starting line. It was such a part of Alaskan culture and it was a joy to feel a part of it, even if it was ten degrees below zero. We would then zoom home and gather around the television as it was broadcast from start to finish for three straight days. We would listen to stories of the musher’s history, what village they came from and in some cases hear about folks who had come up from the lower 48 (the rest of the U.S.) to try their hand at it.

My mom and sister made a complicated score sheet and they would mark the times for each team from each checkpoint. We cheered on our favorites (mine was George Attla, known as the “Huslia Hustler,” a local Athabascan from the village of Huslia who survived tuberculosis and went on to be a world champion) and argued over who was going to win. The last musher in at the end of the day brought in the red lantern and we would cheer them on loudest of all. Then we would go stand outside if the sky was clear and watch for the Northern Lights.

I can still remember sitting there eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the living room (we NEVER! ate in the living room, let alone with the TV on) and drinking hot chocolate. In my mind those were the best sandwiches ever. I tried one a few years ago and realized I really don’t like grape jelly and probably never did. But during the course of that happy time, they were fantastic!

Those memories of family traditions and the excitement we had for things like an eclipse or the aurora and the lengths we would go to see them still warm my heart and are something I tried to pass on to my son. What are the things that you are passing on or creating for your child so that they will have those same warm feelings when they look back on their childhood? How do you help them see the world with wonder and notice the miracles of nature that happen around us every day?

Children are not jaded: They have a blossoming understanding of the world and if encouraged and allowed to do so, they will find joy in things as simple as watching a caterpillar or ants carrying a crumb across the sidewalk. And they will feel the wonder of the universe with all of its mysteries. If you can join them in those moments of wonder and experience it with them at the pace of a 4 year old, you will be giving not only them but yourself a gift: a heart connection that can last a lifetime. So slow it down, step away from the computer and electronics from time to time, and lay down on your tummy to watch the ants with your kids. Even though we are ‘grown ups,’ the world is still pretty amazing.

Details for the month of October!
We have lots to do this month – the first full month of fall. Of course we will be noticing the change of seasons in the classroom and will reflect that in our stories, artwork and nature/science table observations. The changing colors of the leaves and the arrival of a bonus crop of apples will lead us off for the month. We will be using all of our senses as we explore textures, tastes, colors and sounds. I will make applesauce and baked apples with the kids as well.

Following up on our first field day trip to Tryon Creek, we will continue to explore and learn about some of the animals that live in the forest. We kicked off with spiders and we will be moving on to bats soon.

The October favorite, Halloween, won’t be a part of the classroom until mid-month. We have our Field Trip to the Plumper Pumpkin Patch on October 15th and 16th for all three classes. Earlier that week we will find some pumpkins and fall decorations in our classroom and a ‘farmer’s market’ for the kids to play in.

This field trip has a fee of $6 per person (babies under 18 months and in carriers are free). The fee will be collected with your permission slips closer to the date. You may pay by check (made out to Marty Peterson) or by cash. Parents are responsible for driving the children to and from the trip. You are all welcome to come with us as are siblings/grandparents, etc. I will just need a fairly accurate count before we go. I encourage you all to arrange carpools since it is a trek to get out there and back. It can be more fun to ride with a friend too.

If you are not going to be attending the field trip with your child, I will need a signed note telling me who will be driving your child to and fro. Attach this to your permission slip.

Also on Thursday, October 15th in the gym (where we held Orientation) we will be holding our first General/Community Meeting of the year. Social time begins at 6:30pm and the meeting will commence at 7pm. I have arranged for the leader of the Hillsdale Neighborhood Emergency Response Team to come and speak with us about being prepared at home for emergencies and unexpected events. After last summer’s New Yorker article (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one) on the subduction zone earthquake that’s expected in the Pacific Northwest sometime in the future, many of us found ourselves feeling upset and worried and wondering how to be prepared. This will be a stress-free opportunity to hear about the community resources available to us and to learn about preparing for the unexpected.

Remember that the General Meetings are mandatory. At least one adult from each family is required to attend.

School Pictures will be taken on October 21st and 22nd. Order forms have been placed in your parent folders. You already received an email from Amanthus Lunn with the details. Be sure to get your order forms in on time with payment as required. The photographer, Anna Hoye is an MPS alumni mom and local artist. (She was our artist in residence last year leading us on a cyanotype project!) She is a professional photographer and does a fantastic job for us.

The Harvest Party comes soon after on Saturday, October 24th. Find details within the newsletter. This is a family friendly event. Everyone is welcome to wear costumes as long as they are kid-friendly and don’t involve masks.

Our Field Day this month will be right at the end of the month – the 29th and 30th! I haven’t decided the location yet, but I will try to make it a fun and slightly Halloween-flavored event.

Also of note this month, there is no school on October 8th and 9th, which are teacher planning/in-service days.

One final note: I will be sending out a fall feedback survey this month. This is a chance for you to check in and let me know how things are going for your child and for you as a member of our cooperative school. I will send out a notice to let you know to look for them. When the time comes you will find them in your parent folders.

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoy these early fall days with your children and families. It is my favorite season of the year!

Much love,
Teacher Marty