The Mountain Sun Family

Morgan Sprinkle | Brevard, NC

As an assistant teacher in the Otter classroom, I look at our school through the eyes of a teacher. But I’m also a mother to a spunky, funny, energetic three-year-old. He is an Owl, meaning that he is in the other primary class just a few feet away from my own. And being his mom allows me to also look at our school through the eyes of a mother.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my son, and our family, and our school, and how all three are intertwined. But first, let me back up a bit.

One of the reasons that I think Mountain Sun is an exceptionally wonderful place to teach and send my child is that there’s a true sense of family woven throughout our community. My son’s teachers are Ms. Tina and Mr. Nick and they treat him as they would their own child, meaning they love him fiercely, hold him to high standards, and support him with their whole hearts. There are times throughout the year that he has struggled with self-control, making helpful choices, and using kind words with his classmates. Tina is steadfast in her resolve that his classroom is the perfect place for him to practice all of these skills. She tells me that he’s just where he needs to be, making mistakes, watching his classmates make mistakes, giving his fellow Owls a chance to practice patience and kindness with him and celebrate his victories. It strikes me that they are truly a family. With the multi-age classroom, my son is both an elder to some and younger than others. He has a dynamic set of stand-in brothers and sisters with whom he can practice sharing, show compassion, lead by example, learn by mistakes and grow in his confidence to navigate the world. He will be with Ms. Tina and Mr. Nick for three years, in which they will form a deep bond that will likely last him the rest of his life. I can’t remember my pre-school teachers. I know my child will.

He also has older students from the Acorn and Monarch classes who often come into his classroom as helpers. They talk to him about their overnight camping trips and the seven-mile hike they’ll take next week. He adores them, and they in turn love him back. It always tickles me to see them greet him, call him by name, give him a high-five, ask him about his day or gently correct his behavior. They know him. They know all of his classmates. They are older brothers and sisters to all of the younger students in our school, and they fill their roles proudly.

Every day as I go to pick up him from class, he walks around to his classmates on the carpet and asks them each for a hug. Some oblige, some decline (both of which are useful learning tools for my little affection junky) and he happily takes each hug that is given to him. Every day the bonds he’s forming with his classmates deepen, and even though they aren’t related by blood, it feels like they share the bonds of siblings.

I write this as a teacher and a mother, and as both, I see the value in our Mountain Sun family. I also write it as the wife of the future middle school teacher. My husband applied for the position and was chosen just recently. He’ll be leaving his public school family to join ours, and even though their parting is bittersweet, he’s thrilled to have been given this opportunity.

We told our son last week that Daddy would soon be teaching at his school too. He was elated, and full of questions about when he would start and who he would teach. With eyes full of excitement he told us, “We’ll get to do family hugs all day long!”

And I thought, “Oh, sweet boy. You’re already getting family hugs. Every day. Your Mountain Sun siblings are hugging you.”

Next year his dad will join the Mountain Sun family. And one day in the future his bro or sis will also be with him at Mountain Sun. But in the meantime, in this moment, he’s surrounded by love, and family, and people who will forever be in his heart. And we can wait.

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