By Rebecca Blythe, Preschool Head Teacher
Magnolia Classroom, The Berkeley School

When I left my classroom for the day on March 13, 2020 the plan was to close for three weeks. I thought that seemed a little optimistic at the time, but I never in my wildest imaginings thought that our COVID 19 closure would wear on as long as it has. The Berkeley School’s early childhood campus will reopen for the 2020-21 school year this fall looking very different. Among the most significant changes is a steep reduction in class sizes and the accompanying faculty required to support those classes. Complicating matters even further for me personally, while preschools are allowed to be open with wide ranging health and safety protocols in place, K-12 schools in our county (and most other California counties) must remain closed until community spread of the virus declines significantly. As a parent of three school-aged children who will be at home for the foreseeable future, I have opted to go on furlough for the coming school year. While heartbreaking and scary, it’s the best (least worst?) choice for my family.

Today I went into my classroom to collect a few personal items and make sure things are in order. As I walked around campus I found myself feeling demoralized. Newly purchased child and adult sized face shields hang ready for use when singing (or, I imagine, the equally common preschool vocal activity, crying). Their presence is a stark reminder of the times we are in.

I found myself looking for signs of hope. I found it in a corn plant I left behind back in March. When we first learned that our closure would last well beyond 3 weeks, I went in and collected most of the indoor plants in the classroom. There was an old corn plant that was too big and unwieldy for me to move, so I tucked into a shady spot outside that would be convenient for occasional watering.

A few weeks later I came by and discovered that it had been moved into the full sun and was scorched to a crisp. I moved it back into the shade, cut back all the dead leaves, gave it a little water and left it for the fates to decide. Well, today as I was packing up, I checked on it and noticed lots of little green signs of life. The hope I was looking for! One year from now I will report back, hopefully, the plant and I will both be better for the hard pruning.

Follow Rebecca on Instagram (Flowers for Magnolia) to stay connected with her during her furlough and watch the short video below to see Rebecca’s innovative and inspiring teaching in action!

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