Pausing Pre-K to Raise a Village

FeelingsJournal

On March 14th, the reality I had been “preparing” myself, my staff, and families to navigate actually hit- public schools were closing. We were also going to close to assess the safety, liability, and best response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a budding preschool just months from being at capacity and fully staffed for the first time since opening on 11/11/2019, we were particularly cautious with our next steps and felt we needed to lean on experts and new information to guide us.  

Like most people, we are in uncharted water. Luckily, the global early childhood education community is well connected via 70,000+ facebook groups, NAEYC, and through parents and advocates. Locally, we have been working on a coordinated system to open more spaces, raise quality, and sustain and grow the workforce for many years. Evolve was thrilled to be a part of an innovative local initiative to increase access and quality- Buncombe County ECE Development Fund. We were awarded almost exactly 1% of the fund, $36,161 to start up two classrooms and cover some training and operating costs the first year. We were proud of our accomplishments and continued to see ourselves in the next phase of the coordinated system. 

Although the work we were doing was coordinated we had yet to really break down the silos that exist in actualizing human-centered systems change. All of the sudden, the walls of privilege, grit, and self-determination fell down. Here we sat together facing an invisible and unpredictable enemy that targeted the most vulnerable disproportionately. In an instant, it no longer mattered to me if my personal business was successful or if the rating scale would deem us worthy of a five-star. What mattered were people- my staff, my families, the kids, my community, the most vulnerable, the entire global network of educators, families, and kids who are facing uncertainty and potential harm.

How were WE (not me) going to get through this? Groups form, virtual check-ins happen, projects are being announced, musicians, educactors, and healers are going LIVE. People are offering themselves and their services for only what they need to get by and become prepared. Revolutionary acts of separation and kindness begin to uncover our common needs and values. My gut says come fall, we will be harvesting much more than gardens from this collective experience. 

For now, we take it day by day. We continue to check-in and evolve. When I named my business, Evolve Early Learning, I meant it as a call to action to all of us. To understand and respect the value of the “soft years”. To ensure that all who entered the building and our commUnity knew we were conducting meaningful and purpose driven work of raising the next generation. 

This mission has never been more important. We are here to work with caregivers to sustain life-giving connections through virtual support networks centered around children. We are building a network of resources, opportunities, coaching, learning, and sharing to respond the the collective refocusing occurring today. Thank you for joining our virtual journey. 

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