By Kim Freedman, NGFS Parent
In my 20’s, I often found myself sharing a park bench with two ladies I came to love. Never mind that they were separated by almost 80 years, each taught me valuable lessons. The younger sported size 2 Elmo sandals, every day. The elder favored crocheted sweaters, even in the heat of the summer. She often clucked in disapproval when I cautioned, instructed or chided my young charge. “Let her be, stop with the instructions, she squeezes that silly juice thingy, she will get wet and sticky, there is no tragedy there.”
One day she asked if I was going to send the little one to school soon. I reminded her (again) that this wasn’t my little girl. “Yes, she is going to school,” I answered. “Good,” said crochet lady, “She will learn to be a friend.” I smirked with the arrogance of my years and a newly minted college diploma. “I hope she will learn more than that.” “She will,” the old lady growled. Then she looked me straight in the eye and said very slowly, so my superior little brain could take it in, “But that will be the most important thing.”
Years later, I thought of the crochet lady when I was choosing a school for my son. I thought about her endless admonitions to “let the child be.” “You should listen more,” she often told me. “Stop talking at her.” As I visited schools, administrators waxed on about all my son would be taught. I kept hearing crochet lady in my head. The speech I remember best happened on a sweltering day; the little one wanted to play in a puddle, I wanted her to play in the kiddie pool. “You,” said the wise woman with a not-so-gentle poke, “You love her, but you need to get out of her way, you have no respect for who she is right now, she is doing all this thinking, all this learning. Your job is just to make the space.” Wow. It took me the whole summer, but finally, I got it.
As I visited schools, I knew I was looking for one that would respect my son for who he was, I wanted an environment that would make space for his learning. I found it at New Garden Friends School. It was evident as I talked to the teachers; they spent time listening. I visited, and I watched their interactions with the children. I listened to the words they used. It was clear they had respect for their students, the ones that were three feet tall and the ones that towered over them.
I didn’t know I was looking for a Quaker school, but when I found it, I knew at once that my old friend was right. It made me smile, to think about that first lesson she taught me: there is nothing more important than learning to be a good friend. A Friends school is a great place to do that.
To learn more about New Garden Friends School, visit www.nfgs.org.
Sponsored by New Garden Friends School
1128 New Garden Road • Greensboro, NC 27410