In this year, Anna’s last as principal, we have had many moments of reflection and many an opportunity for pause. More than one person has commented on how sad it is that this last year should be so difficult, but ironically, that is not how I feel, nor is it the feeling of my colleagues and fellow letter writers, Diane and Malika. Rather this strange and peculiar, sad and dystopian year has allowed us to take stock, to recognize what’s important and to appreciate what it is that we have and to further develop our number one priority: the social and emotional well being of our children.
It is with this in mind that we focus our upcoming communications. Our May parent meetings will ask you to reflect on what went well this year and what was important. Why? Because as we return to some kind of normalcy in September, we want to make sure that we hold on to that which worked and that which held meaning for us and our children. For example, we felt the smaller size of those crews, we applauded the constant collaboration of our entire staff, and we became competent with technology. Likewise, we appreciated our small and focused reading groups on Zoom, and many a parent has thanked me for giving their child the joy of learning to bike.
Those intimate moments are when the learning happens. Consider a story about first graders and heirloom tomatoes. Last summer, Farmer Johanna found some seeds, and she and Talia, a former BNS student who helps on the farm, threw them on the ground, and lo and behold, these beautiful bumblebee heirloom tomatoes grew. When the kids were tasting them, they recognized how yummy they were.
Then in the fall, Johanna was talking with some students in Bill and Sandy’s class about heirloom seeds. Johanna explained that heirloom seeds are so important because they are clean seeds that you pass on from generation to generation, and farmer to farmer. The children started connecting those seeds to the elders in their families. Kayleen Cabrera thought a moment and remarked, “Oh, like my grandma, Mariella. She was passed on to me from my great-grandmother.” The first graders decided to save the tomatoes because they wanted to pass those seeds on.
In January, Jennifer D’s first graders were making sofrito to add flavor to their vegetable soup. As they were tasting the sofrito, Johanna reflected on how just eating sofrito makes her think of her family. The kids knew about sofrito because it was right before the Inauguration, and Andrea Grande-Capone, a parent in the class, had recently read Sonia Sotomayor’s book, Turning Pages, My Life Story during a remote read aloud. Sotomayor’s mom made sofrito just like Johanna’s mom! Noor Saidi thought about all of this and remarked to Johanna, “Oh, sofrito is your heirloom.” Cece Dupee added, “We have these heirloom seeds. We have to keep passing them on.”
A similar discussion took place with Bill’s students on a day that Musa, a BNS teacher and graduate, was with the class. Musa pointed out that they had just read about someone else who also made sofrito with her mom when she was young. Johanna asked who it was and all of the children yelled Sonia. Francie Stimmel immediately initiated a deep conversation about how we learn who we are and where we come from by cooking recipes that have been passed on from our parents.
When Johanna told us this story, she added, “I just wanted to share. I think it is so beautiful to see how we are all connected, especially when we are in and with community. We call it community soup because it took two weeks to make it with all the first grade crews – vegetable stock for the soup one week and soup the next. I think it was Amy and Barbara who said we should call it Inauguration Soup.”
The vegetable soup was ready to eat. And it was consumed with gusto on what day? Why, Inauguration Day, of course. As Johanna said, “Things come full circle. None of this was planned. It just happened.”
But it didn’t just happen. It happened because of the farm, because of Johanna, because of parent volunteers, and because of the kids, always thinking and learning together.
All for now,
Anna, Diane & Malika
Soup recipe and images … just for fun:
Please check Konstella for Zoom links:
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