From Blankets to Buttons and Beyond
It is not uncommon for me to walk into my office and find items donated by our community. Craft trays, costumes, puzzles, and puppets greet me on my office chairs and seem to be asking, “What are we going to play today?” “How can I be a part of your school’s story?”
Parashat Eikev is a compilation of Moses speaking to the Israelites, explaining the importance of the tablets he had to remake, and reminding the Israelites of their history and obligation to keep commandments when they enter the land of Israel. As we change and grow, our anchor is our values and traditions; how do we take our core narratives, and use them to guide us as we continue our journeys of learning and self-discovery?
Gan Shalom has been the anchor of early learning at RSNS. Our mission is to empower young learners to lead with kindness and acceptance, embrace Jewish values and traditions, and create confident learners that can carry lessons with them as they grow and transition to new places. Our job is to breathe life and newness into the stories, classrooms, toys, and traditions that stay the same. How can we evolve and reflect on our personal change as we revisit the same spaces, stories, and activities? How can this help us as educators connect to our children and our values in new ways?
The idea behind meaning and growth and its attachment to a story reminds me of one of my favorite PJ Library Books, Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman. It starts with a precious blanket made for a boy named Joseph by his grandfather when he was a baby. As Joseph grew, the blanket became worn and torn. Sure that his grandpa could fix it, he brought it to his grandfather who turned it into a coat. When he grew too big for the coat, his grandfather turned the coat into a vest. The vest became a tie, a handkerchief, a button, and then, one day when he was much older, the button was lost. However, when he lost the last piece of his precious blanket, he realized that from this experience, he could make a beautiful story.
This is a wonderful aspect of being the Director of Gan Shalom. That I have the opportunity to take an object that has a story and give it another chapter in the walls of our school. It makes the old become new, and it is a joy to watch our children experience things with a fresh perspective and energy that makes early childhood education so special. May our stories, values, and treasures, continue to have a home at RSNS as we all learn and grow.
Director of Gan Shalom