A tree is a universal and natural element for teaching young children. It is almighty; the one thing that represents birth, life and death, seasons, colors, beauty, divergence, and wonder. That list alone is startling, yet just the tip of the iceberg (or the treetop).
Children are grounded in nature. We adults are, too. And, it’s the tree that embodies all that nature teaches us. No wonder it’s such a powerful symbol.
On a visit to Asheville, NC I purchased this tree from Mountain Roots Studio. It spoke to me; from the roots, to the twisted, gnarly trunk, to the open branches. I felt like this tree represented my life and my teaching. I began laying roots and connecting with young children over thirty years ago. The decades have been filled with my learning. The big knots on the trunk represent landmarks where I felt I made a difference; reading-aloud, “Gloria”, introducing art and music, storytelling… The branches explode, as hundreds and hundreds of children have ‘taken off’, and soared after they left my classroom. And, there is the kite, the symbol that represents roots to wings.
How profound that a tree can speak the message of life, certainly my life.
I brought this tree back to school and it hangs in the hallway for families and visitors to see. Teachers understand. They feel the same way. Interestingly, the kite is also the logo at Groton Community School. A plaque beneath the roots of the tree reads:
Donated by the Fitzkee Family in Celebration of Jennie’s Dedication to GCS since 1984.
The new school year begins tomorrow. I will meet another group of children and have the opportunity to grow another root or two within my own tree. Perhaps those children will feed on the roots and grow their branches in years to come.
That’s what I do!