Come for the Spanish, Stay for the Love

Part of what sets
Pine Village apart:  co-founders
Brid and Emma
A few weeks ago, I joined PVP’s Enrollment Director Kendra Bucklin at Back Bay’s Kingsley Montessori Meet the Schools Night. One of the questions that a prospective parent asked me was, What sets Pine Village apart from all the other schools out there? For someone who can go on for hours about “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (don’t ask; truly; hours is not an exaggeration), you’d think that I could have been a bit more articulate about a place I love sooooo much when asked that question. And yet I have to admit, I kind of bumbled my way through it.
I mean, of course I talked about the bilingual/Spanish part. That’s a given. And after a minute or so of babbling the kinds of clichés that any other high-quality preschool could babble, I did finally say that, upon learning that we were pregnant with kid #3 after kids #s 1 and 2 were well out of Pine Village, one of my first thoughts was: thank goodness, we get to go through Pine Village again. But I’m not entirely proud of my performance with that particular parent. And I was grateful for Kendra who stepped in and rescued the entire conversation.
Several minutes after the parent left the table, seeing that I was still ruminating on my not-so-great showing, Kendra very nicely didn’t mention how tongue-tied I’d been, but instead said something that has stuck in my head for these last several weeks: “Families come for the Spanish, but they stay for the love.”
Will and me
Our story is slightly different. We didn’t choose Pine Village specifically for the Spanish. Although we loved the idea of a bilingual preschool – and some day I’ll be happy to go on about the long-term benefits for our kids, now respectively eight and five years later – what struck us about Pine Village from the start was exactly what Kendra said: the love.
Not that there aren’t preschools out there that don’t share a similar philosophy. Not every place is a nameless, faceless corporate monolith. And, o.k., yes (she begrudgingly said), even the nameless, faceless monoliths have amazing teachers and staff and are overflowing with love. 
But I can’t help it; Pine Village is different. For us it always has been. And although I still have a problem fully articulating why – it’s hard to translate that gut-busting, warmth that spreads deep inside whenever I see my kids in the Pine Village environment into words – this weekend I was reminded a little bit as Will (i.e., kid #2) and I walked with Pine Village in the Boston Pride Parade.
This was the first time that our family has had a chance to participate. I’m not sure where we’ve been for all these years, but we do travel a lot, so it’s not always easy for us to do the weekend stuff. Since I’ve been working more closely with Pine Village over the last few months, though – and since I haven’t had a chance to partake in a lot of the other events that PVP has been represented at over that time – I really wanted to share in the experience. And what an experience it was.
The Pine Village Crew
There’s something about walking through the streets with thousands of people cheering you on that brings a smile even to the surliest of faces. And, well, Will can most definitely be on the surly side; it’s been known to happen enough that I have a whole series of photos of Will sulking his way through various landmarks – Monticello, Four Corners…

Luckily, the surliness isn’t usually part of what Will shows the public for the most part; that is mostly reserved for those of us on the homefront. But knowing this other side of him exists and seeing it are two entirely different things. Watching Will scoot his way from side to side of the parade route, seeking out kids to give stickers and seed packets to, was, well, gut-busting and warmth-spreading. If I hadn’t been so focused on not tripping and falling on my face in front of the crowds, I might even have cried a little. (O.k., so maybe I did. Cry that is.)

Beacon: the final stretch
But what also made me smile was knowing that I was marching with an organization – a preschool – that doesn’t only talk the talk, it walks the walk. (Literally. I clocked 19,000+ steps!) And it’s been doing so for years. Long before it was fashionable – for ten years, to be precise – Pine Village has been marching in the Pride Parade. It was the first preschool and toddler program to do so, and it’s been doing so each year, ever since. More importantly, it’s been preaching – and carrying through – the message of acceptance for all families – regardless of family makeup, regardless of background, regardless of just about anything else you can think of – since day one.
So, yes, Pine Village is definitely about the Spanish. It is a Spanish immersion program, after all. But what is also infused through every moment, action, and its very existence, is the love. Every family, every child, every day.

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