The Start of a New Year at School – Part 1

When children come to school next week, they will be greeted at the front entrance by this hand painted dove.  I can’t imagine anything more welcoming for children than walking across this threshold to start their day at school.

This Peace Dove goes way back, and was painted by Janine, then a parent in my class – the same parent who drew children’s ideas for the Peace Quilt.  As years have passed, she has repainted the Peace Dove whenever needed.  See, parents hang on long after their child has left school, much like children do.

Janine is an artist, and her daughters were in my class.  It’s surprising (in the best of ways) how art can play such a huge role in school.  I only have three art posters in the classroom; a sun by Eric Carle, a Grandma Moses painting, and Starry Night.  That’s it.  Janine’s daughter, Juliet, always loved art, but I had no idea how much the Starry Night poster had influenced her.  When she visited MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York City with her family, she was beside herself when she came face to face with the real Starry Night.  She kept telling her mom how this was in her classroom and how much she loved it.  Mom was shocked and sent me this photo:

I was shocked, too.  Juliet had never said anything about Starry Night.  I quickly learned that children learn and grow in many different ways.  Art is a visual that goes straight to the heart and the brain, much like the effect of a walk in the woods or a day by the ocean.  Words aren’t always necessary.  Never underestimate the power of art, or the mind of children.

Here is my classroom (it takes a few seconds to connect):

I love the big windows looking out onto ‘the whole wide world’ for children.  There are no bright colors, except for toys.  In case you haven’t guessed my favorite part of the classroom, here it is:

Reading books to children gives them the greatest foundation for learning.  It’s the most important (and favorite) thing I do for children.  Plus, it is exciting, fun, and develops a bond between teachers and children.  Nothing beats reading aloud!  Do you recognize the books on the bookshelf?  There is a mix of old and new, fact and fiction, patriotic, rhyming, and wordless.  The books rotate every month, plus there is always a ‘little bit of everything’.  And, nature is just a few steps away:

Stay tuned for Part 2, starting the new year at school from the teacher’s perspective.


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.
This entry was posted in art, children's books, Early Education, Inspiration, picture books, preschool, reading aloud, School, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

106 Responses to The Start of a New Year at School – Part 1

  1. Ritu says:

    I always love peeks into classrooms, Jennie!
    Good luck for the start!

  2. beth says:

    So exciting! And I love, love the dove!

  3. Norah says:

    Your room is gorgeous, Jennie. And I agree with you about reading aloud. Have a wonderful year.

  4. The effects of art, the impact it makes in our lives including how we learn, act, think, feel etc is not very quantifiable HENCE easy to eliminate/dismiss from traditional teaching curriculum by the powers that control such things.
    Luckily the way you integrate it into your classroom is so natural as to be fairly immune to such outright ‘cuts’ to the arts!
    Keep on keepin’ on with your (he)art of being a teacher, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      Laura, I have tried to explain the effect of a natural flow in teaching (like art) to teachers, with little success. I love, love how you explain it, and of course how you immediately understood.

      I feel a blog post coming… ‘Get Out of Their Face’ might be a catchy title. Hmmm…

  5. quiall says:

    What a wonderful tour! In my mind’s eye I can see the children’s faces rapt with interest. Little sponges soaking up knowledge and inspiration.

  6. bosssybabe says:

    Wonderful post about new beginnings, Jennie! When I was a kid, starting a new school year caused quite a bit of anxiety as I’m sure it was for most of my peers. As a parent now, knowing there are teachers like you who take the time to prep for your new students and who care passionately about what you do makes this parent feel better about letting go of her little one someday soon to kindergarten 😊🤗

    • Jennie says:

      Awww…thanks, Jen. The parents are often as worried as the child. Most of the time its fear of the unknown, and that quickly vanishes. Yes, there are many wonderful, caring teachers. Thank goodness!

  7. Darlene says:

    The peace dove is the perfect welcome to the children starting school this year. I love the display of books. A great selection. Have fun!

  8. Love the peace dove 💙

  9. Jim Borden says:

    what a nice way to be greeted when arriving at school. I showed your video to my wife – she was quite jealous of the size of the classroom, and that you have your own bathroom! Best of luck this year…

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Jim. It really is a wonderful greeting. Tell your wife that school raised money for well over 10 years for a long overdue renovation. Nothing had changed except fresh paint since the building was built in ’84. The renovation took a year and a half, and we had to completely move (not fun) into a temporary location. Fortunately there is a prep school across the street, and they rented us a building. Then last Christmas we moved back in (over Christmas break-not fun) to our newly renovated school. Good things are worth the wait! I am totally spoiled by our very own bathroom and big windows.

  10. Thank you. I love being with children.

    Get Outlook for Android ________________________________

  11. your like a Farmer Jennie. Each year you plant seeds of knowledge hoping to find purchase.

  12. What a lovely place for you to work and the kids to learn and play!

  13. What a welcoming learning space! (Or should I say spaces?) Have fun!!

  14. I can’t believe it’s that time again so soon. Wasn’t it just the other day you were going back to school and I made a comment about how I used to not sleep the night before and worry as if I had never done this before (first day of school), but then it was just like riding a bike. You instinctively know just what to do and it’s the start of another great year. I know you’ll have a good year, Jennie, and another batch of little ones will be so lucky to have your influence on their lives.

  15. The dove is lovely, and your classroom is wonderful and inviting.

  16. I loved the video and can see how inviting the schoolroom is for the little ones. The playground is beautiful. Those leaves falling made it a perfect back-to-school scene.

  17. I love the peace dove! On August 11, I had my 17th first day of school. I teach inclusion, so I don’t really have a classroom of my own, except for my dyslexia pull-out groups. It is so fun to integrate myself into my co-teachers’ classrooms, which are all unique expressions of them and their passion for students, teaching, and learning. I hope you have a wonderful first day!

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Bethany! Congratulations on 17 years. I can feel your excitement, so I know the children will, too. My Part 2 (on Tuesday) is all about the teacher.

      • LOL, we started back the 11th! So I have gotten reconnected with my little friends, as well as met our new friends for this year. The beginning of the school year is always a favorite time of mine.

      • Jennie says:

        Oh, I love hearing you say that. After all these years I still get butterflies that first week. As soon as I get to know the children, life is good.

  18. The Peace Dove is beautiful and a wonderful way to welcome kids to school. And art is fabulous, Jennie. It’s all around us from illustrations to posters to whole walls, right? Wishing you a wonderful start to the school year. ❤

  19. Happy New School Year, Jennie and all! ❤ xo

  20. Don Ostertag says:

    And may the children and their teachers Stay Safe

  21. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, a wonderfully uplifting post and your positive spirit will be a light for all your students as always. The dove is so pretty and peaceful .. but I wouldn’t want to step on it! Ahh … the deer is so pretty! What a delightful photo of your student in front of the Van Gogh. His work is amazing and I was in tears at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Finally to books and I see Elmer is there and today read that the 29th book in the series has just been published! Have a great first week back at school!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much for reading and for your lovely comments. I hope I get to MoMA one day. You recognized Elmer! I didn’t know the 29th book in the series has been published!! Best to you, Annika. 🙂

  22. srbottch says:

    A new group of lucky kids will cross the threshold and into your life, Jennie. How exciting for them and you. That was one great benefit of my career sales job, every prospect was a new person to meet and share life. As it should be. Have fun this year, Jennie. And, Happy Labor Day.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Steve. You know the excitement and the relationship building. I just have to get over the butterflies. 🙂

      • srbottch says:

        ‘Butterflies’ are good. They drive you to perfection. You never attain it, of course, because every experience has ‘lessons learned’ that keep us improving and heading toward that elusive target. Make sense?

  23. petespringerauthor says:

    I love your selection of literature books—many familiar tales. Have a great school year, Jennie. We’re on our way home today after a pleasant few days with our son and his girlfriend.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad you know many of the books, but of course not surprised at all. 🙂 Thank you, Pete. Part 2 tomorrow- all about the teachers. It’s good to hear you had a visit with your son and his girlfriend. Looking forward to a post!

  24. there is always something special about the start of the school year. the setting up of new learning and amazing growth and development.

  25. We need to clone you, Jennie, share you around the country! I dropped in on your classroom. That’s such a great idea for new students and parents, to see what your classroom offers.

  26. Dan Antion says:

    A welcoming school and classroom.

  27. Your classroom is a serene, organized, well thought out and fun place to learn.

  28. The Hook says:

    The dove is a cool idea.
    Schools should be less clinical and more unconventional.
    How cool would it be for kids to learn in a castle similar to Hogwarts?
    Kids would be dying to get to school each day.

  29. I’ve read this 3 times now and not left a comment. It’s all there. You have books and nature and spectacular surroundings in which to teach and learn. With the peace dove and art all around, it’s a little bit of heaven wrapped up in a few short hours each day. Doesn’t get any better than that. Loved the video, what I could see of it. My internet is intermittent. Enough to get the feel of it. I would come to your class every day. You are changing the world, one small fry at a time. 🙂

  30. What a great post, Jennie. I love the dove and the commentary about art.

  31. Love the idea of children crossing a threshold of Peace as they enter school.

  32. Pingback: The Start of a New Year at School – Part 1 – MAD Production. Company.

  33. Wonderful post. You must be a terrific teacher.

  34. ThinkTalk says:

    All the best for the school year. Thanks for sharing your classroom. 😍

  35. nickyab says:

    Thanks for sharing ur lovely thoughts!

  36. The painting is indeed a heart warming welcome. Thanks Jennie!

  37. willedare says:

    Thanks for this lovely tour of your classroom. A refrigerator! Two sinks at different heights! And a wonderful play area outside with trees and visiting deer! And a few falling leaves to mark the transition from summer to fall… Sounds like the ten-year process of raising money and then renovating school was worth it!

  38. Elizabeth says:

    I loved reading about your classroom setup! There are so many teachers out there that are making unique, interactive settings for their students every year – Janine’s dove is definitely one of them!Have a great school year!

  39. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is an excellent post, the beginning of a series, from the extraordinary teacher, Jennie!

  40. BERNADETTE says:

    You have created a loving and nurturing environment for your students. They are fortunate to have you in their lives.

  41. As a former “sponge” I can say a LOT of what we experience as children is just the “taking in” of stimuli…and we spend the rest of our lives decoding and lusting after those beautiful, understated moments we said nothing about…

  42. Happy new school year to you!

  43. emmblu says:

    I can tell you’re a wonderful teacher, a real mind-molder. Keep doing what you’re doing. The world needs more role models like you 🥰

  44. Isha Garg says:

    So inspiring! ❤️🙌

  45. Lovely post… Dove is beautiful. 🙂
    Yeah, I do recognize one book. Brown bear… My son got it as a gift from his aunt and he loves it. He is one and a half years old and he can recognize all the pictures and say what it is. 🙂 He recognizes similar pictures from other books too. Art is a great way to learn for children 🙂

  46. Im teaching in person again too! Best of luck as we manage this new journey!

  47. Pingback: The Start of a New Year at School – Part 1 – Eduardoinbox

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