First graders meet their teacher… for the next eight years.

Rose CeremonySeptember 12, 2017 Last Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, 15 six- and seven-year-olds began their first day of first grade, and began their grade school experience with teacher Ms. Culhane.

Colleen Culhane, this year’s first grade teacher, will be the primary teacher for this class for the next eight years. She will be with them as they lose their baby teeth, through their entrance into adolescence. She will teach them their first language arts lessons, and direct them in their eighth grade play. She will teach them about ancient cultures, and local geography. She will show them how to be tolerant, accepting, and strong in their own convictions.

For the last six months, the parents of all these children had been living with anxiety and excitement: who is this woman who will become one of the most important people in my child’s life? Will I like her? Will she love my child?

Beginning in early August, and continuing until the beginning of school, Ms. Culhane had been visiting each child in his or her home. The “home visit” gave her a glimpse of her students’ home life and allowed each child to have a special, private, hour with Ms. Culhane. After visiting with each member of her class, Ms. Culhane considered all she had learned about each child, and imagined how they would come together as a class. Before they ever sat down together, the class had been deeply considered and formed in Ms. Culhane’s imagination.

Our whole school had also been preparing to welcome the new first grade class. On the first day of school, grades two through twelve assembled for the annual Rose Ceremony. The first graders met in the kindergarten and were greeted by the kindergarten teachers, well-known to many of the children, before Ms. Culhane led the class to the assembly. As each student passed through an arbor decorated with vines and flowers and entered the room, they were met by their twelfth grade buddy. Some of first graders entered confidently, and some were more shy. Each student was met with warmth, given a rose, and guided to his or her seat. It was a moment many of them will never forget.

Ms. Culhane welcomed her students to the grade school, and each of the specialty teachers introduced themselves to the class. At the end of the ceremony, Ms. Culhane then led the class out of the assembly to begin their day, while the faculty, students, and parents sang, “A rose is waiting for you…”

Only then did the children enter their classroom, where they found their place at their own, new desk. Ms. Culhane then told them a story, their first lesson of the upcoming eight years of grade school.