A Year of Growth and Learning at Gan Shalom

by Adrienne Rosen – Director of Gan Shalom Nursery School

It is fitting that my last Shaliyah article for the school year coincides with our Gardening Study. The students prioritize observation, caring for things that depend on our attentiveness (namely flowers and butterflies), and understanding the harmony that needs to be present for living entities to thrive.

Our learners have learned that plants need three essential elements to grow; water, sunlight, and soil. All butterflies grow in the same stages; egg, larva, pupa, and adult. In teaching, there are nuances that relate to this study when helping our children grow. All flowers and insects may need basic elements to survive, but each plant, insect (or child) may differ in the amounts they need to blossom.

It is not a coincidence that Morah Miriam is our resident gardener and Master Educator on the Gan Shalom Staff. The Threes learners can identify the different herbs and vegetables they plant and water and label them with the letters learned in her classroom. She tends to each child (and plant) with attentiveness seen by the love they experience in her learning community.

Morah Jamie Nalitt allowed our young two-year-old learners to feel comfortable in the ‘soil’ of our classrooms by including familiar elements and interests to make them feel not uprooted from their home environment but settled in a new space.

Morah Allison responds to her environment based on the needs of her Twos Learners. She took string, beads, and pompoms. She created a caterpillar sensory experience, marrying our topic of study with materials her learners gravitated towards in the classroom.

Morah Jamie Blackstone has trained a group of small gardeners. They access every tool in the classroom to learn and explore independently, knowing each step to complete a task. They can read and write individual manuals to advise our future Pre-K learners. They will leave Gan Shalom with a skill set that can translate to new situations and help them grow freely and confidently in the new environments they will encounter next year.

The growth and support our learners have experienced would not be possible without our assistants; Rovena, Angie, Brenda, Emily, Samantha, Jenna, and Naomi. The patience, kindness, and love they give each child are felt when our children enter the doors of Gan Shalom.

Our learners have grown so much this year. From the seeds that arrived in September, they put down roots in their classrooms, received the individual attention they needed to flourish, and now take care of their environments. The best parts of our teaching methods, projects, and guidance can are evident through the beautiful and unique learners that create our garden of love and peace.

At the beginning of the year, my first Shaliyah article included this poem by H.W. Longfellow, and I feel it important to close with the same poem that connects to our community at Gan Shalom:

“Kind hearts are the gardens; Kind thoughts are the roots, Kind words are the flowers, Kind deeds are the fruits, Take care of your garden And keep out the weeds, Fill it with sunshine, Kind words, and Kind deeds.”

Thank you, everyone, for working together to allow our Garden of Kindness, Peace, and Welcoming to prosper this past year. I look forward to tending to it for years to come.

Adrienne Rosen