Teacher Marty’s Letter (May 2016)

Dear MPS Families,

We have arrived at the last month of the 2015-16 school year. It has gone by so fast that I still feel like we should be in February rather than May! This is always a bittersweet month for me. I celebrate with you the myriad examples of how your children have grown and developed. Spring conferences are so fun because we get a chance to reflect back and notice just how much your children have changed.

But that celebration is also tinged with sadness as I will be saying goodbye to 18 children who are graduating and heading off to kindergarten. Argh! Saying goodbye is not an easy thing for me! I don’t like letting go. However, I have sworn to model for the children positive ways of celebrating our time together, and acknowledging all the feelings we experience when we say goodbye to people we love.

For me, there are always tears towards the end of the month. I warn the kids that I will get leaky eyes. It only means that I love them so much and am sending them lots of heart thoughts to carry them forward to their next adventure. Same goes for you, the adults. I have known some of you for a short time and others for many years. Keep your tissues handy! I love you as much as I love your kids!

We will have some fun events this month to help us close out the year — the Screen Free Party and Potluck is Tuesday May 3rd, from 5:15 to 7pm. Our Artist-in-Residence Chetter Galloway will be attending and will perform for us at the end of the evening.

Our end of the year picnic is May 21st, from 1-4pm. Come share in a celebration and barbecue for the whole family. West Waluga Park  in Lake Oswego is a very family-friendly place. Feel free to bring balls, badminton, kites and more. Keep your fingers crossed that the weather is as great as it has been lately.

Of critical importance this month is your attendance at our final General/Community Meeting of the year on Thursday, May 19th. We MUST have a quorum at this meeting so that we can elect a new co-president and adopt our operating budget for the next school year. Please make every effort to send one adult from each family to this meeting! Notify your class reps, co-presidents or me immediately if you know you will have to miss this meeting.

SAFETY CHALLENGE! As you are moving into summer your kids will be going to friend’s homes more frequently for playdates. Many of you will have children moving into new schools for kindergarten and in doing so will be making new friends and be receiving invitations to the homes of their new friends. I would like to issue you each a challenge. I know that your child’s safety and security is the most important thing in the world to you. If you read the headlines and stay up on the news at all, you also know that way too many children die each year as a result of gun accidents.

The statistics on these events are staggering and they break my heart. These are preventable deaths. One of the ways we can prevent them is by being informed and taking positive action to keep our kids safe. Here is the challenge: Before you leave your child with anyone, stir up your courage and ask if there are any guns in the house. You can practice this on each other — and blame it on me! “Teacher Marty made me promise to practice asking if there are any guns in your house!”

After asking this question, know the follow up questions if the answer is affirmative. How are they stored? Are they in a locked gun safe? Is the ammunition kept separate from the guns? Are they left loaded? And then, know what you will do if you hear an answer that leaves you feeling uncomfortable.

Accidents happen every day. Adults make all kinds of assumptions about what kids know and what they will do. We assume because we have told children never to touch something because it is dangerous that they will follow our instructions. Never forget that children are impulsive and curious beings. They do not have solid impulse control because their brains are not fully developed. They can’t help it.

It is incumbent upon us as the adults in their world to create safe environments for them in which they can explore, learn and grow without the threat of harm. If you were dropping your kid off at a house with a swimming pool, you would ensure that there were adequate safety measures being taken (fenced off, close supervision by someone with life-saving skills, flotation devices, etc.). You know that young children are at risk of drowning in a very short period of time, so you take positive action.

Same thing with guns, although you do not know whether that risk is present in any home unless you ask. And just because the answer may be yes doesn’t mean that your child is at risk, as long as adequate safety measures have been taken. Do it. Be courageous and ask. You are not only protecting your child, you are setting a good example of being proactive and safety-conscious. Officer Buckle and Gloria would be proud of you! (That is a reference to a children’s book.)

That’s it for my final newsletter. I appreciate all that you have done to make our school what it is: you have put in countless hours parent teaching, cleaning, fundraising, attending meetings, reading emails, solving problems, planning and attending parties, and more. I could not do my job without you. You have made my life better for your smiles, hugs, stories and support. I know I will see all of you over the summer. If this is your last year at the school, please know that our doors are always open. This was your child’s first school. It will always be their and your home. And home is the place you are always welcome and where you will be met with love and laughter. Don’t be a stranger!

I Love You Forever!

Teacher Marty