May Newsletter

 So, I was sitting on my back deck reading a book, when suddenly I heard the distinct humming sound of a hummingbird near me.  I turned my head slowly so as not to startle it and watched in amazement as she proceeded to hover next to a large spider web and grab and rip at it repeatedly, till she had quite a beakful and then off she flew to a nearby tree.  Now, it was only because I’m a preschool teacher and we studied birds, that I knew exactly what I had just witnessed.  You see, hummingbirds make their nests out of spider webs!  I had read this, and told it to the children, but I had never seen it for myself!  So cool!!

  Around here, we have so many of those miracles of nature that we get to witness!! We’ve already seen our tadpoles morph into little frogs!  Sadly our tank developed a crack in it when I put in one too many rocks for them to hop onto…it actually burst all at once…not an explosion of glass…just an explosion of water and tadpoles!!!  Fortunately, due to the quick action of the teachers and Megan’s son Zeke, all the tadpoles were saved and the next day I was able to safely release them back into the creek they came from..

  We’ve also gotten to see our seeds sprout into plants!  I’ve been hearing so many stories from parents about the excitement many of the kids have had, watching their little plants continue to grow at home.  We see that same level of excitement here with the kids in our garden.  One boy said to me, “Nance..did you see the sunflower? It’s blooming!  Let’s go look at it”  So we walked over and just stood gazing up at this magnificent flower.  “Isn’t  it amazing that this giant flower grew from a seed the size of my fingernail?” I asked. He nodded and we kept on looking.

  These kids are the best foragers!  We’ll go into the garden and right away they take off in different directions depending on their tastes as they search out peas, and kale and broccoli.  We had a woman visiting last week and she couldn’t get over the excited pleas for more broccoli!!  Another child came up to me and said, “Sometimes, I just like to dance in the garden…it’s so beautiful!”

  When another child yelled out “There’s another Monarch caterpillar!” I decided to order a “butterfly house” so we could watch some of our caterpillars turn into butterflies.  So far we’ve seen four of them become chrysalises.  Yesterday we noticed that one had become transparent and we could see the butterfly inside!  As I looked at it with a few kids I said, “What a miracle this is!!”  “What’s a miracle?” asked one little girl.  “Well, it’s something amazing, that people don’t completely understand”.  “Oh,” she said, nodding with this new knowledge….”This is a miracle!”  she declared.  And later that night the butterfly emerged!

  This is so fitting, because this really is a time of transformation…on so many levels!  First of all, I am sad to say that we will be losing two incredible teachers at the end of this month.  Elliot needs more flexibility as he has family obligations that he needs to take care of.  He’s such a good guy, and we have loved having him here and we are hopeful that he will still be able to pop in here and there!  And teacher Maureen needs a schedule that can accommodate her family’s needs better, so this is a good time to make a switch .  We feel blessed to have had them both here and send them off with much love!

  So, that means we get to welcome a new team member!  We were so surprised at the number of applicants that we received and are very excited to welcome Lisa Schaffer-Doggett.  Lisa is our kind of gal!  She’s warm and friendly, curious and creative…she’s even a silver-smith as well as a mom to a 15 year old son..so you can ask her all your teenager questions!  Lisa will start training this week on some mornings and afternoons..so when you see her, feel free to introduce yourself!

  Now, a couple of important dates to remember…We’re going to have Picture Day, on two days..May 16 and 17.  Megan is sending you all the info about it.  No obligation,obviously.  This is just something that parents have asked for in the past.  Any questions, just call or email the ranch!

  Next is graduation!!! Graduation will be on Wednesday, June 1st, and we will be closed for school on that day (you are not charged for this day).  Then we will be closed the rest of that week, Thursday and Friday, to get ready for our new session the following week, starting Monday June 6th.

  So, here’s the curriculum rundown for this month.  The first week of May we talked about “Moms and Mother’s Day”.  As I read this one book to the kids that follows a mom from pregnancy through her baby’s growing up time, I watched the kids just melt, when they saw these beautiful illustrations of a mom snuggling with her baby, then holding his hands so he could walk…and holding him crying, when he would fall down.  It was just lovely!  So moms…you are all so loved!

  Then for the next two weeks we’re going to learn about two intrepid and influential women…Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross, and Jane Goodall, who did groundbreaking research through observation of chimpanzees  in their natural habitat and is a passionate environmentalist and animal advocate.   First we’ll talk about Clara, a Civil War nurse who continued to want to heal and help after the war was over,  which is how the Red Cross was started.  It is such an amazing organization to this day, and the message of rushing to help those in need is so beautiful to me.  We’ll even put out a jar for the kids, and parents, to make donations, and at the end of the month we’ll send a check to our local chapter of the Red Cross.  In years past, kids have gotten really excited and felt powerful, knowing that they were a part of that helping!

  The next week we’ll  learn about Jane Goodall, because she, just like Clara Barton, felt a real need to help.  Along with the knowledge that she gained and shared about chimps, she deepened her connection to the natural world during her time living among them, and it became her mission to educate the next generation so that they can be good stewards of this earth and all the creatures on it. And that sure is part of our mission statement here at the ranch!

  The following week, June 23-27, will be the week leading up to graduation, so we will be talking about  “Graduation…What’s that?”  This year we are going to have about 25 kids graduating; which means we’re going to have a boat-load of grown-ups here to watch them.  We want the kids to have fun at their graduation, and we don’t want them to freak out.  We do want them to understand what a “ceremony” is.  We’ll tell them that  it’s when people get together to acknowledge that something important is happening.  And then we’ll practice what will happen.  We’re not going to be scripting anything but we want them to know what to expect and what the program will entail.  It’s fun, they all feel like big kids and they’ll know that at the end, when I call their name, they will get a diploma, and a lollipop.  All they hear is the word LOLLIPOP!! And you just can’t believe the level of exciting anticipation!  But it really is fun and they really do get that we are acknowledging that they are going through a big change…Kindergarten!

  So the ceremony, which will be here, outside on the lawn, starts promptly at 10:00, and will take about 30-ish minutes.  Then we’re going to have a little “after-party”.  Not too wild, just a light pot-luck and dancing.  Then we’ll shut it all down by 12:00, ‘cause we’re gonna be tired!

It’s going to be fun, but it’s also okay if you need to just hit the ceremony part, then run! We get it!  

  Well, I guess that’s it!  Another year..and what a year!  Thank you all for being part of this beautiful, loving community!