Ode to Community

By Annah Yevelenko, HFP Parent

From the moment I discovered Hawthorne Family Playschool’s website, I felt a connection that I had hoped to find for my daughter’s path. And then we went to the open house a week later, where I was warmly greeted by everyone, my questions thoroughly answered, L’s excitement for all the activities peaked, my heart fluttering at the thought of my kid being given an opportunity to join this community.

Needless to say, I applied immediately and blew kisses to the universe in hopes of receiving a favorable answer. And as it goes – ask and you shall receive. We hopped on the bandwagon and haven’t looked back.

While reading over all of the receiving information, I won’t lie and say I didn’t shed a tear for how thoughtful and inclusive everything was. How forward thinking and organized everything was–with a focus on equity. How stoked I was that my child would be entering this school that embraced anti-bias education.

We were incredibly lucky to have her first day be a forest adventure, where she and I would meet the class, students and parents alike. Another warm experience. She was elated on our drive home. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

The following week she entered the classroom, where I stayed with her, to support her transition into this new role in her life. She couldn’t get enough of all the activities HFP had to offer, she was a little butterfly, fluttering around from station to station, marveling at everything with wide, unblinking eyes. And though she would have to learn the songs, and the routines, and the classroom agreements it was apparent that she belonged. 

The next two months were wonderful. L couldn’t wait to get back to class, and wouldn’t stop talking about the next time she’d be back the rest of the time. Every Tuesday and Thursday, post school, her mood was epic, to say the least. Her energy and excitement were unparalleled. Whereas she would normally protest going to her day care, her pull towards HFP was magnetic. “I love Teacher Susan” became a staple heard phrase in our home. She even started teaching her brothers to “breathe” like her yoga teacher Leslie taught her, which was another bonus we didn’t account for. 

And then the world changed. 

I was out of town on a job, and came back to homeschooling three kids, all in different schools, different ages, different needs. My husband would still be working. How was I going to do this with a toddler– while my tweens needed me to be there for their scholastic demands? How and what am I supposed to do with a toddler that has now tasted such an enriching program? Now that I would be with her at  home?

And then HFP swept in to save the day.

Our Zoom class meets, the blog posts, the story times, the group texts, the new one-on-one meets with Kimberley, the parent support meets, the personal texts in times of need, the IG stories with little walking assignments. All of it is a godsend. Truly. I keep talking to my friends around the globe, especially ones with young children, and their stories all end the same way: our preschool shut down and that’s the end of it. Zero support. Zero care. Zero understanding or compassion for parents going through these changes alone. So I send them to the HFP website and Instagram, and share all the resources we have been blessed with. 

Through a couple of the board meetings, I’ve been very lucky to sit in on the inner-workings of this operation. I’ve seen, first hand, how much everyone in this community cares for these kids as a whole, for this mission to continue, for the resources to continue to flow.  

As one of the newest members of this community, I am absolutely grateful for every morsel of support that HFP has provided our family. We look forward to every Zoom meet and story time. We sing Teacher Susan’s wacky rainbow song on every walk. We use HFP prompts for conversations during dinners. We have a better understanding of the play structure that we try to simulate at home. We now have allies, and don’t ever feel alone through this otherwise excruciatingly lonely period. We are hopeful and thoroughly excited to return with a newfound zest for all that HFP has to offer.

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