This week I returned to St. Francis Nursery School. I used to read there regularly back in 2006 and 2007. I turned the project over to a colleague when I went to the States for a few months. That colleague has now returned to U.K. so I thought I would stop by to see if anyone would like a story or two.
The children were in the yard when I arrived. As I approached through the garden, Teacher Ruthie burst from the door, squealing like a three-year-old and running to greet me.
All the children are new since I was last here. The ones I read to have “graduated” to Epworth, a home for school age children about forty-five minutes away. Ruthie and her former colleague Louise go twice a year to visit “their” children, taking presents and spending time, trying to provide some continuity of relationships in the lives of the children.
Ruthie and I sat on the bench in front of the school. “That one was found locked in a shack without food,” she explained. “The neighbors called the police to break down the door when they heard him crying for days. No one knows who his parents are or even his real name.” When he first arrived, she told me, he would crawl into the suspended barrel on the playground and not come out. Now he plays with the other children.
Ruthie is one year away from finishing a BA in early childhood education. She wants to be a government inspector to monitor pre-schools and nursery care. I just hope that doesn’t take her away from direct contact with the children. She has such a big heart.