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Constance Alexander: A Canterbury tale about kids and families and preschool graduation

Never having attended one, I did not know what to expect when Amanda ZeRuth, Canterbury Day School’s teacher and founder, invited me to her school’s graduation. As a result, I can now say this with authority: If the Kentucky Derby is the fastest two minutes in sports, Canterbury holds the record for graduations – thirty-two minutes and fourteen seconds, to be exact.

In spite of drizzly, dreary weather in Murray Saturday morning, commencement was conducted, as planned, in a spacious picnic shelter at the Calloway County Park. Families and kids began arriving before 11, parents cheerfully toting fixings and setting up for the after-party.

Jonah — whose older brother Jackson just graduated from Canterbury Day School — is undaunted by rain and stormy weather at Saturday’s commencement celebration. (photo by Amanda ZeRuth)

Some of the kids were decked out in pint-sized caps and gowns, while others wore the usual kid garb, including hoodies flocked with dinosaurs.

Watching the children’s reactions and interactions was a crash course in creative play. Some of the preschoolers obviously prefer going solo while others flourish in groups. One little boy sings to himself; two little girls in caps and gowns check out each other’s attire. A grandparent, side-stepping a toddler happily stomping in puddles, delivers a bouquet of flowers to one of the kids.

When one little guy picks up a small stick, another follows suit. As if on cue, they begin to fence, thrusting and feinting with no “Touchés!”

There is happy hubbub, no tears, no meltdowns.

When the time is right, Amanda ZeRuth welcomes everyone to the annual graduation and lauds them for coming prepared in rain gear. She thanks parents, grandparents, and caregivers for their support of Canterbury activities throughout the year, from pajama days, to the pumpkin patch, to getting kids to school on time.

Recognizing the range of attention spans in her audience, ZeRuth starts with congrats to the youngest grads, Toddler Time, ages 2-3.

Next, the preschool graduates are invited to come forward and sing three songs. Their attention is riveted on Mrs. Amanda, who mouthes the words and encourages them to lift their voices and be heard.

They begin with the line, “I started out the year so small but now I’m so much bigger,” and move on to spell out B – I – G, spreading their arms and leaping up, making a joyful noise.

The performance is so sweet and earnest it becomes obvious why Mrs. Amanda brought a box of tissues with her and placed it within easy reach.

Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray. She can be reached at constancealexander@twc.com. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

When it comes time for recognition of each preschool graduate, ZeRuth notes their individually distinctive traits.

Lorelei, a dedicated helper who aspires to be a preschool teacher, is complimented for being strong, confident, and a good leader.

Jackson, an Iron Man fan, has a song in his heart. Adrienne, a gift for athletics. A deep thinker, Lumi is a kind and gracious lunch buddy. Sarah makes Mrs. Amanda a paper heart almost daily.

“She has blossomed before my eyes,” ZeRuth says.

Bethany is lauded as a kind and wonderful listener who loves spending time on the swing set at Canterbury Day School.

Less than thirty-five minutes later, the formalities ease into a picnic featuring juice boxes and PB & J sandwiches for the kids, among other delicacies.

Established in 2015, Canterbury is a small, private, state-certified, in-home day school focused on sensory, physical, and cognitive development. Through half-day sessions and after school day care, owner and teacher Amanda ZeRuth focuses on helping children learn foundational skills through play and exploration of the natural world.

Canterbury inhabits the ground floor, spacious yard, and gardens of the residence Amanda ZeRuth shares with her family, Dr. Gary ZeRuth and son Emrys, age 9.

Established in 2015, Canterbury never has more than 6 children at any given time. Founder and teacher Amanda ZeRuth describes the role of a preschool teacher as, “A person whose main goal is to do everything in their power to bring smiles to the faces of children whom they aren’t related to but will never forget.”

Canterbury is state certified, fully insured, and Amanda ZeRuth is CPR and First Aid Certified.

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