We had the good fortune of connecting with Sylvia Rath and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sylvia, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I never imagined my profession as a Preschool Director would be risky— but in the time of Covid -19 only staying home seems safe. After working 21 years as a Preschool Director at Little Village Nursery School— I am now a Zoom Teacher. We closed our door to onsite classes mid March and have had to furlough all the 9 Teachers. We hope to reopen onsite with a small pod in January if the Covid numbers go down by January 2021. Most of our Teachers do not want to take the risk of exposure too. I am enjoying seeing the beaming little faces of our preschool children every morning as I help guide parents through home schooling. We sing songs, read stories and even make projects together— all at a safe distance. Keeping the attention of 2-5 year olds over a screen can be a challenge but with silliness, costumes and imaginative play— we make it fun!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
After 21 years as a Director I have found myself back in the Teaching seat virtually. I actually love it! We have had Fairy Day, Face Painting, Share a Pet Day and even a day to talk about poop— reading a funny book called Everyone Poops. I have launched Balloon Rockets across my Living room and exploded volcanos perilously close to my computer. I would like people to think a about what we can do in Covid times as opposed to worries about what we can’t do. After all— this is “not forever— it is just for now“. That is The title of a great children’s book on the pandemic. There is so much to explore. Remain playful, laugh and get outside in some nature. We can continue our community via zoom right now and share our experiences through stories.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to the beach. The sea air keeps us safe from exposure and it is easy to Social Distance. Even at 62 year old I dive into the waves with my boogie board on Venice Beach leaving all my worries behind. The Santa Monica mountains also offer a refuge from Covid with mountain trails that overlook the city of LA on one side and the ocean on the other. When you can see nature— the pandemic seems far behind.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Our story is actually a community of families as we are a Coop School. We have a volunteer Board who meet each month— even though onsite school has shut down for now. The Board helps form policy and help me brain storm how we can ride out this storm safely and reopen again. Our Coop Preschool has been going since 1947— so it is our responsibility to make sure it does not fall apart and we can continue to support families with Preschool, Parent Education and Parent Support Groups. I have to give a huge thank you to those parents who have partnered with me. I am also thankful to our Teachers who wait in the wings to return when they feel safer and we can bring enough children back. The majority of our families are hoping for a vaccine or at least the Covid numbers to go down. We are in LA— a hot spot for Covid and rated at purple by the state of California. Thank you to the scientists and medical professionals who continue to search for answers, cures and a vaccine.
Derek Rath- photography