My Happy Heart: A COVID-19 Reflection

By Lynn Hess, Teacher and Director

As you know, these are unprecedented times. As Teachers, we all miss the children in our classes and their families. In the state of North Carolina, schools are now cancelled for the rest of the school year. This means that we are all taking extra precautions to keep from spreading COVID-19. This also means that, without knowing it at the time, March 13th, 2020 was our last day for the 2019/20 school year. I am choked up and have tears in my eyes as I type this. On that last day, we said good-by, thinking that we would see each other again on Monday. On that last day, we gave hugs, high fives and wished each other well for the weekend…not the rest of the school year.

To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. As Teachers, we had plans. Each child has grown since August. We knew we had two and a half months to explore, create and continue growing together. Those months at school are now lost. Tears are rolling down my cheeks.

Our Annual Art Show and Silent Auction didn’t happen this year. This is a grand celebration of the children, their creations, our families and our connections. It is a highlight of the school year as we all gather and truly celebrate the heart of this place. My heart hurts with this loss.

We can sit in despair or we can consider how to best reach out to our families. After taking the first week of no classes to regroup, the Teachers jumped into action, volunteering to take turns making videos so that, each weekday, the children could see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice. Music Class is offered, Monday through Friday, on Facebook Live. Each weekday morning, our families receive an email from me, including links to the videos for the day. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the email includes a link to the Grace Lutheran Church Virtual Devotions and Worship services. Our older classes have weekly Zoom meetings, where the children connect by seeing each other, sharing, reading stories, playing games… interacting with their friends, without the transmission of germs.

None of this is ideal. The Coronavirus is not ideal. And yet, we are a family and doing the best that we can. During our Teacher Planning Meetings (through Zoom), we emphasize that this is about making connections, not perfection. This is about doing something, instead of nothing, to help a child feel better, even if it is just for a few moments a day.

This is about leading with our hearts to help children and their families reach their greatest potential, even in these trying times.

At the end of my daily emails to families, I write, “If you have any questions, concerns, good news or needs, please let me know. Remember that we are a family!”

That is The School of Grace. That makes my heart happy.

Racial Equity in Early Childhood and Our Statement Opposing Zero-Tolerance

Racial Equity in Early Childhood

By Beth Coleman, Frog teacher (Fall 2017-May 2019), and
Danielle Larkin, Tadpole teacher and SoG Board member

“Children are citizens of their environment and learning stems from all that surrounds them.”

Equality of ChildrenThe quote above comes from our School of Grace website and is an aim of ours as teachers to integrate within our classroom practices with children, families, and the broader community. We also grapple with its meaning: What does it mean to consider children as citizens? What are the environments that surround children? Who and what do they include and who or what is missing from them? What learning, then, should stem from those environments?Continue reading

Art Show 2019 Featuring Process-Focused Art

by Pam Pittenger, Turtle Class Co-Lead Teacher

Girl Smiling This week, teachers at The School of Grace have been busy setting up our displays for the annual Young Artists’ Exhibit, informally known as the art show. For weeks, our students, from the youngest child in the Turtle class to the oldest child in the Monkey class, have been happily busy creating process-focused art projects for the exhibit. All of the classes have participated together in creating a mural. A reception on Sunday, May 5, at 12:15 pm, is the culmination of all our work. Everyone, parents and children of the preschool, members of Grace Lutheran Church where our preschool is located, friends, and community, is invited to join together to celebrate our preschoolers’ art!Continue reading

Why Do We Sing All Morning?

by Pam PIttenger, Turtle Class Teacher

At any moment in the morning in the Turtle class, you may hear music.  The music may be classical music, it may be music and movement (“Hurry, Hurry, Drive that Fire Truck”), or even silly (“A Hat on my Head, What Have I Here?”).  The music may be from a CD, sung by one or more of the adults, or sung by the whole class.  Songs give our children “anchors” throughout the morning as we use transition songs to describe what we are going to do next in our routines. Singing songs also allows us to share new and interesting ideas to think and ask about.

Using repetition, our Turtles learn new words, new ways to move their bodies, or new ways to play with songs.  We keep a small variety of instruments – drums and tubes, toy pianos, and the like – and other items to use in movement – scarves, ribbons, etc. – so that we can all participate!  Music is not just something being done “for” or “to” our Turtles, but something to which they react and respond.

We sing about the weather.  We sing about riding on the seesaw on the playground. We sing about swinging. We sing to allow children to stomp their feet or make loud pounding sounds with their hands.  We sing to allow children to move just their fingers or to move their whole bodies.

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Bucket Fillers

Bucket Fillers

by Kerrie Houseworth, Monkey Class Teacher

Many studies indicate that labeling students can have a detrimental effect on their self image, and, ultimately, their success.  While this is often true, the Monkey Class is reversing this negative potential.  Instead, we are using labels to identify positive behavior.

We are kind.  We are loving.

We are sensitive to the needs of others.

We are “Bucket Fillers”.

The Monkey class has always tried to focus on the behavior we want to see.  We just haven’t had a label for it.  This past year, after reading the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud, and a short lesson on kindness, we decided to make a pledge that we will be Bucket Fillers.

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2016 Annual Art Show and Silent Auction


“Allowing Them to Grow and Thrive”
-Lynn Hess, Director

Earlier this week, I sent an email to our current families about The School of Grace Annual Art Show and Silent Auction. Soon after, I received this response from one of our parents:

“Thanks to you and the staff for all the hard work you have done and will do this week to make the Art Show a success.  It is one of my favorite events.  I vividly remember touring SoG with my oldest daughter when you were preparing for that year’s art show.  I left thinking, “I want my child to be part of this.”  I had not felt that way about any facility I had previously toured.  It was evident that this was about children and allowing them to grow and thrive in the most developmentally appropriate way possible.  Most facilities and programs I visited touted having Smartboards in their classrooms or teaching the entire Kinder curriculum to their students in the pre-k 4/5 year old class.  Those things did not impress me, either as a parent or an educator.  SoG did and I know I have given my girls the best possible start by sending them to you!  I can’t wait for May 1st when I can celebrate with my children.  They love sharing their work and the pride and excitement they feel is so evident.  A thousand thanks for the extra hours you all spend putting it all together.  It is very appreciated.  -Ann G.”

On Sunday, we will gather as a preschool family to celebrate children. Come join us at 12:15 for the reception. I am certain that you will see children who have been allowed to grow and thrive, whose creative ideas are encouraged and who are proud to share their work.

Lynn Hess, Director

Making Friends

By Erin S., parent and Board member

When preschool students really start establishing friendships it is such a magical journey to be apart of.  One of my favorite aspects of having a child at The School of Grace is watching my daughter’s friendships blossom and grow.  Being a part of a parent participatory school has allowed me to get to know the special kids my daughter talks about.  When she comes home and talks about a certain friend I feel like I already know that friend.   It gives me the chance to be involved in conversations and laugh along with the stories.  I feel like all the kids from school have a special place in my heart just as much as they do hers!  The days I get to spend with my daughter in the classroom cannot be replaced and are a truly unique, bonding experience.


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Palm Parade Surprise

By Brittany Notch, Tadpole Class (2/3 Year Olds) Teacher and parent of a child in the Monkey Class (3 ½-5 Year Olds)

Working with children between the ages of six months to five years, there are often surprises.  When we keep our eyes open to the wonders of God’s love, amazing surprises are revealed within our preschool.  We have an Easter tradition at The School of Grace, where friends, teachers and Helping Parents participate in a Palm Parade during Music Class, the week before Easter.  We hold our palm prawns (felt palm leaves) and instruments (typically jingle bells strung on pipe cleaners, which are easy for tiny hands and fingers to hold) as we wave our palm prawns, ring our bells and sing the first verse of “Jesus Loves Me” over and over.  Before we begin the song again, we pause and shout, “Hooray for JESUS!”


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Learning Through the Arts at The School of Grace

“Learning Through the Arts at The School of Grace” -Kris M., parent and Board Member

The Arts–music, painting, dance–are front and center at the School of Grace. On a recent morning as Helping Parent, I witnessed the impact this exposure to the arts has on our students. A refugee student, who spoke little English and knew little of the arts when he joined three years ago, expressed his sadness in morning circle when he learned there was no time for art that Wednesday. What wonderful growth this child has experienced at The School of Grace.

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When is the Right Time for Preschool?

-Lynn Hess, Director

June and July are often months when parents of preschool aged children wonder if their child would benefit from a school experience prior to kindergarten. Friends and family frequently influence this decision with opinions and recommendations based on their own experiences. As a mom, I sought input from many resources regarding good schools and appropriate ages.

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