I started this blog, Living and Learning Together, Thinking about how we learn, in the fall of 2008. My son Ben had just left the public schools for Sudbury Valley. I had just stepped away from a leadership position in our alternative public school, after a long range planning process that felt as though it had ended in defeat. My term as a Board Member of the Boston Association of Young Children had just ended. I was discouraged with the emphasis on standardization that was taking over the worlds of early education and care and public schooling.

I was looking around for alternatives, remembering my early interest in Open Classrooms, from my own experience in elementary school through my college and early teaching years where I had spent time in a variety of public and independent schools, some very alternative and some I tried to move in that direction.

I wondered if a place like Sudbury Valley could be created closer to home, so kids from the city could attend more easily, and so kids from a wider range of backgrounds could have the freedom Ben was experiencing in his new school.

I looked around the country and the world for examples of schools to learn from. I attended AERO (Alternative Education Resource Organization) conferences in Albany, New York, and several retreats at Gilchrist in Michigan for early childhood educators from around the country who sought time for reflection and renewal, where I added spiritual learning to my own growth.

I read book after book from the Sudbury Valley Press as well as books on home schooling, un-schooling, alternative education, progressive and democratic schooling, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Montessori learning models, and found myself reading poetry and taking photos and writing my way into a relationship with images and ideas I hadn’t experienced before.

During that time, I posted often, sometimes more than once a day, and slept little, sometimes getting up in the night or early in the morning to write. Along with writing the blog, I began working with homeschoolers in the day care, tried to create a small home school program, or a slightly larger independent alternative school, even looking at real estate in Somerville that would be suitable. Soon I joined a group trying to create a two-way bilingual progressive charter school. When we didn’t get our charter, I spent a year working as a staff member at Sudbury Valley.

When it proved unsustainable to continue staffing at SVS while running WFDC, I chose to return to day care full time, scaling back the homeschooling goals and refocusing on young children and child care.

For the last several years since then, in spite of a six week closure of our program by EEC in 2018, and a year of staffing challenges that followed the closure and the loss of Liana as my day care partner, things have gone quite smoothly.

Now I find myself in a place not too dissimilar from other times in my lifetime, when the world as I had hoped it would be was falling away. I watched Ed Reform and the MCAS take apart the progress towards progressive approaches I had made in the traditional public school where I was working when I left on maternity leave and started the day care after my son was born in 1995. In place of returning to that world, I began creating one I could live in more happily at WFDC.

I watched the dismantling of the alternative public school program my children had attended, and I had supported from 2000 through 2011, when my youngest child left for Sudbury Valley. My kids, then I, immersed ourselves in wilder alternatives, at SVS and in the larger world.

I watched the dismantling of developmental, play based approaches and the institution of standardized, academic learning goals for early childhood programs over the first fifteen years or so I ran the daycare and had decided I could no longer be active in early childhood leadership at the local level. I retreated and moved on to more independent, reflective modes, writing, dreaming, and attending the Gilchrist retreats.

Today, I’m watching the world as we have known it disappear on a larger scale. I wonder how I will play a part in the new world of early education and care as we learn to live with the corona virus and adapt our programs to new ways of providing care.

This week I waited for the Governor to tell us at his Monday briefing how that might look, and was disappointed. I waited for the EEC (Department of Early Education and Care) to give us information about what the new world of child care will look like at today’s Town Hall Webinar. All the Governor and the Commissioner had to say was that we will continue to operate with Emergency Care only through Phase One, and that there will be a phasing in of Child Care and Day Camps in Phase Two.

No further information was given. Again we wait. I’ve got a headache from all the dashed hope and waiting. I’d like to envision the future we’re moving into. It’s not clear, but a picture is forming in my mind, so I’m going to write it here, remembering the many times before when a world I had been envisioning was lost and I had to start again. Starting again is where we are. Maybe writing will help me again to figure out what’s inside my heart and mind, to explore the larger world of ideas, and to create something new out of the two. Wish me luck. Here goes. Step One: Begin.