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Multi-Media Childhood: Ritzhaupt ’20 at Buen Dia Family School in San Francisco, California

   Buen Dia Family School is a two-story brown building with green stairs. It sits right off the corner of Guerrero and 18th, caddy corner to Tartine bakery, the French boulangerie that’s on every Top 100 restaurants list for San Francisco (I went there once, it was good). Inside the school, you’ll find art everywhere: hanging from the ceilings, pinned to the walls, on the tables, et cetera. Buen Dia is, at its simplest, an arts-based preschool with a Spanish bilingual component. However, I quickly learned Buen Dia was so much more.

   It is here that I took my second co-op. I had long desired to live in San Francisco and Buen Dia offered me that as well as an out-of-the-box art-based job. I work as a teacher’s assistant, so I do a little bit of everything around the school ranging from helping with naptime to cleaning, leading storytime and playing with the kids, as well as helping direct art projects and make food for snack time. 

   A typical day for me starts at 10, where I work in the office for a few hours assisting with paperwork and Excel sheets. At 1, I’ll head downstairs to help with “cave”, which is the alternative to nap-time. We read stories and relax for an hour, then I clean up the area. Afterward, I’ll float from position to position, sometimes supervising outdoor-play, the art table, or the block area. I’ll additionally help kids get their shoes on at pickup time, then finish cleaning and setting up for the next day.

   Buen Dia focuses on the child’s individuality and creativity. We transcribe stories from kids to go with their illustrations, encourage them to express whatever emotion they’re experiencing in a positive way, and work one-on-one with kids to solve problems. There is no sending children to time-out. Instead, we will discuss what went wrong and how we can fix the situation now or how to better avoid it in the future.

   With many teachers being fluent in both Spanish and English, there is an immersive learning experience for the students (and myself as well). Many of the children are already bilingual in Spanish and English, with the others comprehending most Spanish. Being immersed in an elementary-level language environment, my Spanish comprehension has skyrocketed. I hadn’t spoken Spanish since high school, but I now converse on a basic level with the kids as well as read stories in Spanish. It is honestly a very exciting facet of this job I hadn’t expected.

   Every few weeks, we rotate the subject of our theme table. The themed table highlights events going on in our world at the moment, such as the Lunar New Year, International Women’s Month, and Black History Month. We shared Valentine cards on February 14th, which meant I handmade around 40 cards as well as received a lovely bag full of cards from the students. We made two lion costumes for the Lunar New Year and had a parade around the block, complete with music. Parents regularly participate in events and activities, with most parents being present at the parade and stopping by to help when we need an extra hand. One child’s mother came and made tortillas españolas and taught the students about them, and another came to help fix a broken door and a damaged fence.

   I had worked with kids before, though I never anticipated just how dramatically this co-op would change my career goals. I was so certain I would pursue a masters to go on to college-level education in media arts, though I am now trying to find a way to take early childhood education classes to get certified. I have established wonderful relationships with the students as well as the teachers I work with every day. I am looking forward to hopefully coming back to Buen Dia again on another co-op. I still have two weeks left though I already dread leaving.

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Zoe is currently a fourth-year self-design major in video production at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Zoe has been producing short videos with her younger sister since she was little and has hopes to pursue essay and experimental filmmaking professionally after their tenure at Antioch. Outside of classes, Zoe is the lead coordinator of Antioch's sex education program and enjoys baking bread.

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