An Open Letter to Our Preschool Upon My Youngest’s Graduation


Preschoolers playing and learning.To Our Preschool,

Well, I guess this is it. My family has officially made it. At the end of this month, my youngest will walk out of your doors for the last time, and no sibling will replace her. Our family will officially be preschool alumni.

I still remember back in the spring of 2016 when my family was looking to move to Fairfield. I was driving to a house showing and stopped at the crosswalk in front of your school when a preschool class burst from the front door. I watched in awe as a sea of happy faces ran into their parents’ arms, then skipped across the street, a parade of big smiles and buoyant gaits.

From the front seat, I turned back to my two-year-old daughter and smiled. “Look at all those happy kids! I bet that school is fun!” I said.

She agreed. And while we didn’t buy the house, we saw that day; those smiling faces had sold me on your school. The following month, we applied. After securing a spot off the waitlist, my daughter started in your threes program that fall.

We immediately knew your school was the right fit for our family. After a year of tearful mornings at her twos program in our old town, my daughter started looking forward to drop-off.

She talked endlessly about her teachers and friends, the crafts, and activities. She and that low-riding headband she never took off bolted through your red door daily for two years, her eyes rarely turning back as I waved goodbye.

Sometimes, when I walk by your playground at pickup time, I can still hear her friends chanting her name as she rode the tire swing, her voice carrying as she soared, her joy contagious as I’d stand there by the gate, waiting for her class to end.

Even as new Fairfielders, your preschool felt like home. We fell in love with the events and traditions, and the annual family picnic on the playground became so meaningful that all three of my children wept this year when we left.

“No more Family Fun Day?” they all said in despair. Then we remembered we’d know kids attending school next year and told ourselves we’d crash it. Some traditions are hard to let go.

Like the flowers my son used to draw for me each day when he was in the twos program. For the fall of his first year, one of your directors used to walk him down the hall and sit with him when he was sad. Then he’d draw Mommy flowers on small scraps of paper to give me at pickup. Every day, a flower. Usually yellow.

I saved them all in a folder, along with the pictures we took daily in front of your school sign. Ever since the first day of school, when I’d asked for a picture in front of it, he’d posed for me, thinking it was part of the routine. The tradition was so sweet I continued it all year and then throughout the next two. I have pictures in front of that sign for every day he attended your school. From his towhead blond, Batman-cape-wearing days to his shark shirts and athletic shorts phase.

He got over his separation anxiety because of Batman, you know. The way his twos teacher bonded with him over that was just one example of the constant dedication and love your staff showed my children each day.

We still talk about that teacher six years later when we pass by. Just like we talk about the Friday song their teachers played in the fours class, the Gray Squirrel song our kids learned in the threes class, all those afternoons spent running around the big tree outside your school, and the horseshoe crabs we tagged at the beach when my youngest was in the threes class.

We still say the grace you teach at lunchtime every night before dinner. Last year, we ended the prayer with a “Bon appetite, let’s eat!” because that is how they say it in the fours. This year, we’ve dropped that part because, according to my youngest, in pre-k fives, you don’t say that. She has always been a stickler for the rules.

Just like she has never known life without your school. I think you first met her when she was a couple of weeks old, in her car seat, lined up at my son’s drop-off next to two others filled with babies born the same month. How amazing those car seat babies are now in class together, friends just months away from kindergarten.

Eight years of preschool are gone in a flash. Everyone always tells you time accelerates when you become a mother. That you need to “enjoy every moment” because “they grow up so fast.” But at the moment, that advice is hard to follow.

I still remember showing up to drop-off exhausted with a newborn, stressed because my oldest was starting kindergarten, or worried because of the pandemic. I remember navigating disagreements with other children, bouts of separation anxiety, and times when you and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye.

Sometimes, I wish I could go back and remind myself to worry less. To remember that when people have the same goals, there is always a way to find a solution. That the challenges of the day always pass. And that what really matters is savoring the beauty present around us. The messy finger paintings, shaving cream art, marshmallow snowmen, and homemade Christmas ornaments decorated with tiny handprints. Those big smiles that ran out of your arms and into mine. But of course, none of us can go back; we can only move forward.

So today, I say thank you. Thank you for giving my oldest a spot off your waitlist eight years ago. Thank you for making my children feel safe, respected, and loved each day. And thank you for being a part of our family’s story. Even as we move on, the traditions, the teachers, and the lessons learned over these years will forever remain in our hearts.

Your school has shaped us all. Your grace will continue at our table. And through our memories, our days at your school will live on.

With Love,

My Family

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Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper
Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper lives in Fairfield, CT with her husband and three children, ages 10, 7, and 4. She is the author of several novels that encourage tween and teen girls to listen to their inner voice, from saving the family fishing business in ON THE LINE, to following a passion for crafting in SALTED CARAMEL DREAMS, and exposing a friend’s hurtful social media platform in POPULATTI. She is currently working on a new children's book series and a new novel on motherhood. She also shares her own motherhood experiences on her Instagram @jnbwrite. When not writing, you can find Jackie and her family enjoying Fairfield’s beautiful coastline where they love fishing, swimming and sailing.


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