First Day School Annual Report 2018
For this year we have followed the axiom: if you build it, they will come. Thus, ready every Sunday has been a teacher with a lesson plan. Attendance this spring has been limited, ranging from a number of Sundays that had no children in attendance, to many that had 2 to 3 children. This low attendance has felt like the greatest limiting factor for First Day School, though we abound in ideas, enthusiasm and potential!
First Day lessons have included: celebration of heroes and heroism on MLK Day (Dawn Atwater); focus on stewardship through the making and planting of seed balls (Dona Sorce); several books and discussion based on the Quaker testimonies; participation in international peace day with a story and building of peace cranes; Quaker history lessons about Lucretia Mott and William Penn; and Faith & Play stories. The First Day School committee members also joined with the Outreach Committee to host a table at Easton's annual Multicultural Fair. Finally, in June, First Day school helped the Meeting honor Third Haven youth who are "moving up" to a new stage in their lives with a presentation at the rise of Meeting followed by a Meeting-wide picnic.
Christmas and Easter were especially meaningful this year. Susan Claggett led a Christmas Faith & Play for the full Meeting with the kids, and the kids developed wreaths for the Meeting. Easter's lesson focused on the story of Jesus (led by Susan Claggett), followed by the annual Egg Hunt. For these, we were joined by nearly a dozen children and their families.
The Committee has felt led to seek ways to invite more families to Third Haven, and to deepen our meaning to our current families. We began 2018 with a short Committee member survey to explore this intention. Some wonderful ideas were generated about curriculum topics, as well as an understanding that several of the kids who have attended regularly are growing to the age where their needs in religious education change. For them, peer interaction is more important as are activities better matched with the interests of older kids. This is an important area of growth to consider moving ahead.
The Committee also recognizes that we don't have new younger children coming to First Day School either. Toward this, great strides have been taken by the full Meeting toward a set of summer camps scheduled for June and August 2018. A Carriage Shed Sale, organized by Susan Claggett and an energetic group of Meeting members, was held in April to raise money for these camps and related First Day School activities. Two teachers have been hired for the camps, and registration for the June camp (with 10-12 campers ages 4-9 years old) is nearly complete. The camps are nature-based and focus on mindfulness/peace. Also planned for this fall is a "mommy and me" session (every Friday for 8 weeks, 2 hours each, ages 0-3 years old) in partnership with the nonprofit, River's Edge Forest Play. This session, called the "Little SPICES" program, will also be nature-based on focused on the Quaker testimonies.
Also of note, thanks to a connection from Candace Shattuck, First Day School Committee members met with PYM's Youth Engagement Coordinator, Melinda Wenner Bradley. This is a very helpful connection for us as Melinda is incredibly knowledgeable about programs and resources of other Quaker Meetings. She offers her support and connections to others as we move forward.
First Day School was also gifted a lovely assortment of craft and art resources by Dolores Wack, a filing cabinet by the trustees, and a swing set by the Mufson Family (moved by Ben and Paige Tilghman and a small, strong crew).
In sum, we consider this a time of planting seeds for the future growth of the First Day School. We are deeply grateful for the love and support of the full Meeting and look forward to what's ahead.