My Tree of Life


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!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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30 Responses to My Tree of Life

  1. Yu/stan/kema says:

    Wonderful post, Jennie.

  2. Tanya Cliff says:

    Beautiful post, Jennie. Best of wishes for an amazing school year, my friend!

  3. Very much enjoyed this post!

  4. miladyronel says:

    Beautiful symbolism 🙂

  5. Beautiful, purposeful imagery! What a great way to show the effect we can have throughout the years.

  6. Nina says:

    Great post Jennie…is that some kind of a tradition? If it is, that’s really wonderful! May younhave another wonderful year at school. ☺

  7. J L Hunt says:

    How wonderful, what a positive symbol 🙂

  8. Have a fantastic school year! I love your tree post.

  9. reocochran says:

    Wow! This is a wonderful gift to the school and I think you could write a poem with many of these lovely thoughts, Jennie. It is already heart-warming and spiritual in tone and poetic thoughts! ❤ I am amazed you were able to part from this beautiful symbol.

  10. Beautiful post. I used trees quite a bit in counseling children. We created memory trees for friends and family that had passed away with each leaf bearing a child’s memory, and we made comfort trees with each leaf bearing an idea for self-comfort and calming. They are wonderful symbols. How lovely that your trees hangs in your school for all to enjoy 🙂

  11. magarisa says:

    Thank you for the wonderful, uplifting post. Wishing you a great school year!

  12. I ❤ your tree and its meaning! I'm trying to visualize what size it might be. Is it attached to the dark background board and hung as a 3D picture? Or is it bigger and that is the wall behind it? The kite adds just the right splash of color and message.

  13. Just so beautiful!!! 🙂

  14. KindasFolk says:


  15. melissaguy says:

    Beautiful way you start off your year, love the positive outlook, hoping your school year is amazing

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