The excitement and rush of the new school year always brings me back to one of my favorite children’s books, “Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden”, written by Edith Pattou and illustrated by Tricia Tusa. I find the correlation between caring for a garden of flowers and the caring for a classroom of children heartwarming and inspirational.
Mrs. Spitzer is a teacher and, at the start of the school year, she is given a packet of seeds from her principal. I have always imagined Mrs. Spritzer to be a preschool, pre-k or kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Spitzer takes special care in preparing her garden.
“She makes sure the soil is right-light and well drained with plenty of room for sprouting”.
Then Mrs. Spitzer plants the seeds. The start of her school year is spent watering them, feeding them and making sure they get plenty of sunlight. As they sprout and grow she checks them daily for weeds and pests. At ELCM, our teachers take the first six weeks to plant our classroom garden and watch the children sprout into curious learners. Classroom routines and rules are established in these early weeks to ensure physical and emotional safety.
As Mrs. Spitzer’s instinctively knows that different plants need different things. She knows some will grow quickly, and some will grow more slowly. Some are bright and bold while some are silvery and quiet.
“A few are like windflowers and will grow anywhere you put them. And some need gentle care, a special watching over”.
This is the part of the story, which touches the heart of why we teach. It is all about teaching to the individual. A good teacher knows who her children are and knows what they need to grow to their fullest potential. We always say we will take your child where s/he is academically, socially and emotionally, and take them as far as they can go. Some children may surpass the norm, while others may not, but we must remind ourselves the child’s journey is about individual growth not peer comparisons.
As the seasons pass, Mrs. Spitzer continues to feed and care for her garden. And then the year is over and her job is done.
“But the plants will keep growing, uncurling their stems, stretching their leaves outward, and showing their faces to the sun”.
The most rewarding moments in my teaching career have been when ELCM graduates return and I witness the continued growth of their individual journey. It is one of life’s greatest rewards knowing you had a part in their journey.
So, as we prepare our classrooms and get ready to welcome your children into our classrooms, know that every ELCM teacher carries Mrs. Spitzer in her heart.
We are all so excited to watch your children grow throughout this school year and we thank you for entrusting your little sprouts with our wonderful ELCM teachers.
-Authored by Deb Winslow
ELCM Owner / Teacher