Updated: Sep 14, 2021
At this, the start of Lake and Park’s eighteenth school year, I am grateful for many things:
For the building in which the school is housed and the church community that welcomes our daily presence through their doors
For the Health and Safety Committee who meets weekly with Eileen Hynes and me as we ask questions that come up during the course of the previous seven days pertaining to the ins and outs of holding school in the midst of a pandemic
For the experience that last year taught us as we attended school daily and in person from September to June, (except for a few days when the air quality from wildfire smoke temporarily closed us down--too unsafe to meet either in or out)
For the gifts of vaccines, masks, hand sanitizers and conscientious folks doing their best to navigate their families through activities while remaining socially distanced
For each member of this year’s faculty and for our two new teachers, Rebecca Flaherty and Samantha Silvestri. Each year, the constellation that is that particular faculty creates a one of a kind organism unlike any other
For the gift of past faculty, especially Andy Gregory and Morgan Padgett, who all contributed to the success that the school now enjoys as we approximate our twentieth anniversary
For Board members who support the School administration in a critical, behind-the-scenes role
For the parents who back their children each morning at Drop Off with words of encouragement and packed lunches as they head to their classrooms and the peers that await them
For those same parents who, at the end of each school day, greet again the children who return to them changed in many ways, having experienced three or six hours in their absence immersed in all manner of doing
For the stuff that is so critical to that immersion that ranges in make up from the handheld physicality of sand shovels to the esoteric exchange of ideas
For the media that fuels such exchange, often found in the pages of the books that are read out loud
And for the transport that such reading gives us.
Aware of the need to restate an old saw, of the undeniable fact that reading aloud is, as ever, absolutely critical to a child’s development, we began this year focusing on an astute author, Beverly Cleary. Her work is more than the humorous reporting of daily exploits of children in a particular neighborhood in a particular time. It gives voice to the complex inner thoughts of children. (She seems to have an attentive child psychologist’s gift for empathy.)
“The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction” is the subtitle to The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon. This 2019 volume is full of truths that I will be reaching for and pulling out throughout this year to share with you, as it is really aimed at a parent audience. We, as teachers, are inspired by it, too.
This month’s quotation:
“...there’s a powerful quality of transcendence that raises reading aloud from the quotidian to the sublime. The experience is more than the sum of its parts. We can take it to pieces to see its beautiful and fascinating components--that’s the work of that book--and yet at the same time, at its heart, we encounter a mystery. Like a biologist who has dissected the body of a songbird, we can see the pieces and how they fit together. We can identify wings and feet, beak and feathers. But we cannot see or hold the thing that made the bird so lovely to us: the grace of its flight and its warbling, fluting melody.
So it goes with reading aloud. Here is a reader, a book, a listener. The sound of the voice exists for a moment and then it vanishes. Like birdsong, it’s gone--it is over. Yet it leaves traces of its passage in the imagination and memory of those who listen. There is incredible power in this fugitive language.
The story of humankind is the story of the human voice, telling stories. In reading aloud, we draw from an ancient wellspring of happiness that predates the written word. Oral storytelling has sustained and refreshed humankind since the far-off days of the distant past…”