Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines an odyssey as a “long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune” or “an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest.” Aptly named, our preschool, Odyssey Early School, captures the journey our children took as they transitioned from infancy to toddler to preschooler.
Fast forward to 2019, and we’ve done this thing 3 times. Our youngest recently graduated from Odyssey.
Our Tenure at Odyssey
3 babies from 2009 – 2019. Our tenure at Odyssey has spanned an entire decade. I’ll admit, I was terrified initially. We had just moved to Alabama from Charlotte, North Carolina. I had left my happy place close to family and friends to come to … well, I really didn’t know what to expect. I just knew I wasn’t feeling this move AT ALL! On top of that, we were desperate to find a preschool for my then 2-year-old daughter. Any mama who has ever had to find a preschool quickly knows how difficult this search can be.
Amazingly, we found Odyssey. It was not only close to our home but had an excellent reputation and, gasp, availability! Nevertheless, turning over your children to complete strangers is no easy task. Despite stellar ratings, I didn’t know if these Odyssey teachers would really love my baby while tolerating my insecurities, watching me work through my mommy guilt, and answering all my questions. But this mama had to work, so I had to get over my hesitation and fast. Turns out Odyssey knew what to do the whole time.
The Gift of Odyssey
As I reflect upon the end of our preschool era, I am forever grateful to Bob, Amy, Amanda, and all the incredible teachers and staff at Odyssey. Preschool lays the foundation for children. It cultivates their love of learning, fosters their independence, and preserves the magic of childhood.
Here’s what Odyssey gave to each of mine:
- Partnership – If you’re doing right, preschools and parents become partners equally invested in your child’s growth and development. The Cox’s partnered with Odyssey to raise our 3 babies, and they have flourished.
- Sense of belonging and inclusivity – Odyssey immediately made us feel welcome. We were always greeted warmly, and Amy knows the names of every parent, kid, and sibling at Odyssey! We had become part of one big family. Like family, Odyssey celebrated our successes alongside us and checked in when our babies got sick and had to miss school.
- Mastery and confidence in learning – Often termed “the formative years,” the first 5 years of a child’s life is a critical developmental time period, physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. There is tremendous brain growth, and new neural connections are formed daily. Odyssey witnessed some of the big firsts as we did – first smiles, first steps, first “mama” and “dada,” and first successful trip to the big kid potty. There were rounds of applause and high fives for those firsts. But, they, too, kissed boo boos, helped our babies push past their frustration, and lovingly told them to “try it again” when they faltered.
- Magic of play – There’s dress up, art, music, and dance; and they’ve been princesses, mermaids, doctors, and swashbuckling pirates. Play is the work of children; Odyssey gets that. We have more artwork, pottery, and hand and footprints than we can count; and we love it all, well almost all of it but don’t tell my kids.
- Love – There are no more Cox babies. The last one starts kindergarten next week, and the older 2 will enter 3rd and 7th grades. Our time at Odyssey has now ended, but the love will last a lifetime. In years past, my older 2 would occasionally accompany me to pick up baby girl and Amy would absolutely glow with excitement and genuine affection at the sight of them. There are always hugs and questions so she could catch up on their latest pursuits.
Saying Goodbye to Odyssey
So, with a grateful heart and a few tears, we bid Odyssey, adieu. These 10 years have been magical. We have watched our children blossom, ready to face the world, in part, because of what they accomplished at Odyssey. Most of all, and most importantly, these 10 years have been filled with love – the infinite love of teachers and an administration who chose to cherish our children as if they were their own. And for that, we will always treasure Odyssey!