Every day…or most days…I hear that preschool costs as much as college. In fact, at our last Board meeting Josh, a board member, was joking and said, “this costs as much as college.” Without taking a breath, I remarked in a snarky tone that it should cost as much as college, getting everyone’s immediate attention. I then added with a smirk, we don’t get our diapers changed in college. Here are some more special gifts we receive in our preschool that we usually don’t get in college:
- Nelcia, Helen and Kimberly teach just 4 children at a time. They play on their lollipop shaped drum, dance together, eat yummy cafe food, teach children to name the colors and find the beauty in each one.
- In preschool, we learn about friendship and feelings, we get our back rubbed and we learn about everything we wonder about from shuttle trains, to tired princesses, to new babies, to powerful mommies and mamas, to kind daddies, to weather, all kinds of weather. We learn all this while getting pushed in a stroller. You don’t get that in college.
- In preschool, your teacher Peggy makes a song for every bird you see and know and love. Your teacher Sandra builds a papier-mâché sculpture with just you, and your teacher Mahesha does yoga poses with you while making a collage.
- In preschool, your master teacher Jenn knows exactly how you feel, and what to say to make you feel good and settled and loved for the rest of the day, and then somehow gets you really excited about a hip hop poem… all in under 1 minute. This might not happen at college.
- In preschool, your teacher Dory smiles at you and feeds you a new shape of pasta, and explains it, and names it, and you chew it remembering to tell your mama about the orzo you tried.
- In college, your professor will not take care of your mother, or your
mama, or your father, or your nanny and kiss her and tell her she is
the very best the way Ann Marie does.
- In preschool, you get to hatch silk worms and get cozy with Polly;
you get to laugh with Marisa really hard, and you even get reminded
to pee. Not in college. I don’t think so.
- In preschool, you get a teacher like Maxine who smells like dreams
and sings like the sand woman herself.
- In preschool, you get a Dolly Parton cover band, Julia’s after school
glitter, Nikki’s theater, Melissa’s stories. You even get
receptionists Maggie and Zoe, who love your children, and you, and
who laugh with you every day, whether it is a funny joke or a really
hard schlep complete with rain, crying and losing really special
things. You also get surprises like pop up cafes and 2 year old
office helpers sending you emails.
- At preschool, you get to talk to Kristen about her love of electronic
music, philosophy, and feminism, and to Barbara about Joan Baez and
Martin Luther King, and to Charlie about finance and cicadas. Maybe you got all this from college, but I didn’t.
- In preschool, you get to learn from your Board and laugh with them.
You get held to your vision and pushed to articulate and grow, and
you get to sometimes tell your Board it’s OK to miss one meeting to
see ZZ Top. I wish I could go to a college like this!
I went to hear Ken Robinson the other night. He is an education guru-knight and he said our lives are not linear, most of us do not do what we studied in college, and he discussed a study of majors of Silicon Valley. The majors, philosophy, psychology, etc., of course did not relate to the creations and innovations that people had made. My guess though, is that preschool does relate more to our lives than college majors.
It’s when we discover how good it feels to swing high, or name the planets, or make a beautiful doll that looks like us, or solve a problem with a friend. Preschool matters because we create who we want to be, not just what we want to study. Then we nurture it, grow it, sing it, dance it, and celebrate it.
I want to celebrate the teachers, the Board, the cooperative and all of our friends that support us by acknowledging that you matter. You matter to me as much as college. You matter to me as much as preschool.
We also want to treat our preschool teachers as well as our college professors and raise funds to send them to Puerto Rico, and Sweden, and Kenya, and Zimbabwe and NYC to research and learn about early childhood through the world forum foundation and other learning and growing opportunities.
We also want to raise funds to provide financial aid to more children from diverse racial, economic and family backgrounds who need a high quality, creative, joyful preschool like Maple Street.
We want to raise funds so we can support your children’s curiosity and learning, our Expansion, our diversity and our connection to the community. We want to raise funds, and I want to thank you for agreeing with me that yes, college costs a lot and so does preschool, and they matter because our hearts go into them as does our labor, all so that all of our children can flourish. So perhaps the next time we say or hear preschool costs as much as college, we remember our tushies are clean, our faces are wiped, we have sang silly songs, learned about birds, and subway trains, and New York families from all over the world. We have used our words, expressed our feelings and shared.
We have napped and played, and most of all we have felt love the whole time.