- Early Childhood
by Kerry Orshal, Owl's Nest Director
It has been a while since my last blog, but now that we are into spring, it seems like the right time to begin again. Owl’s Nest is starting to shape up nicely, and the students seem very happy with the weather change as well as the longer hours of sunshine.
In my last blog I wrote about Odysseus’ returning home and how coming back to school for me felt like a homecoming. Let me continue with that theme. Over break while many were sunning pale bodies in faraway lands, the students at Country School were offered a variety of enriching experiences off-campus. Unlike Odysseus, these adventures did not include mythical creatures, but there were definitely encounters with wild animals!
First, we travelled to the Ansonia Nature Center where the kids high-fived tarantulas and held hissing cockroaches. Next, the bus stopped at KidCity Children’s Museum where we had the whole place to ourselves – a much-added bonus for our school group. The third day we packed up our harmonicas and played a little ditty to the whales at the Mystic Aquarium. (Note to self, never ask a group of kids to bring harmonicas on a bus again!) The whales did not disappoint and showed their appreciation for our music by "dancing" and rubbing their heads on the viewing glass. Petting sharks and stingrays was a highlight for some on that excursion. Thursday, we headed to the Peabody Museum where we saw lots of dinosaurs and minerals. The main attraction for many that day included seeing a walking stick up close and personal and eating at Clark’s Dairy. Friday morning was particularly blustery; in fact, it was downpouring in Madison as we left for our trip. But still we traveled to Niantic for a seal watch aboard the Blackhawk II. By the time we reached exit 72, the skies had cleared and we even saw the sun break through when we were on the water. We saw many seals and when we stopped by Plum Gut Lighthouse, they entered the water to get a closer glimpse of us. Throughout the week I overheard many children commenting that this was "the best break week ever" and "the best field trip ever" and "the best ice cream ever."
After being shipwrecked, Odysseus landed on an island where the inhabitants valued seafarers; he was treated to a huge feast. Similarly we ended our excursions with a frozen feast of the Dairy Queen variety. The shop was technically not open until Saturday, but after a pleading phone call to the owner, they opened a day early just for us. Perhaps it was not a feast, but the first ice cream of the new season always calls for some pomp and circumstance.
I look forward to many more trips with this wonderful group of children. It was a pleasure to take them out into the community and to receive the accolades that came from others when their personalities shined. Each day we came together as a group and traveled to another wonderful place. The children became a unit instead of an age-ranged separation; the youngest students were accepted and adopted by the older ones. We ate together, shared our highlights (for me the seals), and lowlights (the cockroach) of each excursion and truly got to know one another through experiences outside of our traditional setting.
Odysseus had helpers along his journey as did I: Jo Kweirga and Edward Montessi were integral parts in making this week such a success. From cup-coloring skills for a new bulletin board, to navigational prowess these two showed poise and professionalism all week. I am lucky to call them colleagues. It is also heart-warming to have parents step up so that more students could join the excursions by offering to take time off work and drive extra children in their personal vehicles. It was a week of Country School magic at its best.