Everyday Play for Belonging

by Sukie Jackson

The Gift of Belonging to our School

Wanting to acknowledge the important part Ruth Washburn has played in their children’s lives, parents sometimes ask, “have  you thought about a graduation or bridging ceremony of some kind?”  Teachers also struggle with end-of-year questions and feelings. “How can I best honor children and families?” and more realistically, “how do I get through the last week without children and parents becoming stressed by transitions to summer, to a new class or to a new school for kindergarten?”

Certificate of Belonging

Certificate of Belonging

I am always appreciative of the school’s fifty-plus year history and that fact that previous groups of parents and staff members have asked these same questions.  Years ago, under the thoughtful leadership of former Director Linda Crissey, a lasting, wonderfully appropriate and original-to-Ruth Washburn tradition was born. On the last day of school children were given a document called a Certificate of Belonging.  This certificate, hand made by a parent skilled in calligraphy, had space for the children to add his or her own decorations.  The Certificate of Belonging stated that:

Ruth Washburn will always be your school.

Take our Spirit of Love, Play and Delight with you.

May it grow as you do.”


RW alumna Mari plays clarinet for Henry

RW alumna Mari plays clarinet for Henry

This is what we continue to do to celebrate children and the end of the year.  We give each child a Certificate of Belonging.  Rather than “graduating from” the school, children “belong to” the school which opens the door to an on-going (sometimes lifelong!) relationship with our cooperative.  Families can picnic in the backyard over the summer. As children grow up, they can return to play their musical instrument at a Circle Time or share a talent  for the Month of the Young Child. Families may donate old toys to the school, attend the Harvest Festival, and support the school financially. All children are invited back for a Third Grade Reunion.

It’s especially appropriate for a cooperative school that asks so much of families while their children are enrolled to offer this gift of belonging.  “This will always be your school.” This is such a great way to say good-bye!


Sukie Jackson      Older 4s teacher