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A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Unapologetic: Payton ’22 at Buen Dia Family School in San Francisco, California

Scratches and scribbles on purple paper, rocks and beads, “we found these for you teacher Lexi”.


For years now, I have been indefinitely concerned with the idea of perfection. This lingering, strangling feeling of it doesn’t matter what I create, it will never be perfect, and it will never be how I want it to be. 

Even as a kid I was plagued with this idea. When playing, I would pick the car that was unscratched. My lego houses would be made with one solid color or not at all. My journals would disappear from the ripped pages I tossed into the trash after spending hours writing.

At Buen Dia, the first rule I learned was to never draw for a child. The children would look at your drawing, and see that it is unflawed. They would see all the colors are in the lines, and that the shapes are perfectly drawn, therefore, the children wouldn’t want to try to draw, but instead they would ask you to draw for them. The children would compare their drawings to yours and insecurity would flood their tiny minds. The insecurities would take over and they would think that their drawings would never be as good as yours.

The kids at Buen Dia are taught that nothing in this world is perfect, so to strive for perfection is frivolous. Rather than striving for perfection, they strive for purpose, and for creation. They are taught that the act of creating something is always more important than the result.

The kids walk around the school with their hair half down and half in a tight pony or braid, the leftover remaining touch from their parents love in the morning. Their pants are ripped and their shirts are stained, and of course, they always have a little bit of dirt in their shoes. But in their tiny heads, there are big, ginormous, brilliant ideas flourishing. Buen Dia is a place where curiosity and wonder take precedence over anything else (except for safety of course!).

While here in San Francisco, the Buen Dia Family School has inspired me to exist without trying to please everyone, and thus I shaved my head. Just kidding, but no, I really did shave my head though.

Me and Austin at Baker Beach

The kids at Buen Dia inspired me to exist unapologetically. Watching them fall down after climbing the monkey bars, and hit the ground hard, only to soon get back up, and try again taught me that searching for perfection leaves me empty. I am no longer searching for perfection. Now, I am searching for curiosity, wonder, and creation.

The Buen Dia Family School 

The Buen Dia Family School is a preschool in the Mission District of San Francisco. Buen Dia focuses on art and has a bilingual Spanish component. Some students speak both English and Spanish, and some just speak one or the other. Family at Buen Dia is important. It is a requirement for guardians to input work at Buen Dia to help make the school function well. Some parents prefer to do office work while others go on field trips with the students. The Buen Dia mission is to empower children to meet their potential, encourage individual expression, and enhance self confidence.  

Buen Dia is a small building located on the corner of 18th and Guerrero Street. I walk up the steps to the front door and enter in the building code. Here, I am always greeted with tiny hugs and smiles.

I start my day off at Buen Dia working in the upstairs office. I spend the first hour of my day drinking coffee from my travel mug and organizing files. I also input data into the computer, help with auction work, and my personal favorite- shred a lot of paper (who would have thought shredding paper would be so fun).

At the end of my office shift, I take a small ten minute break, then head downstairs where I assist the teachers. From here, we lead sixteen tiny humans to the lower level of the building where they lay down on mats with their stuffies in hand.

In Cave (what we call the older kids’ nap time), we relax our bodies and minds by practicing mindfulness. We only use our whisper voices, we raise our hands, and we stay on our own mats. The teacher reads a few stories, and then the kids lay down for fifteen minutes. The lay down is accompanied by a soft peaceful music, or a white noise.

At 2:00 p.m, Cave’s ending approaches and the kids scramble upstairs to play.

At one table there is always arts and crafts where the teacher leads an activity like making paper birds or collaging, but rules are never enforced here. At the arts and crafts table creativity is encouraged.

The kids are also invited to play outside on the play structure, the monkey bars, the slide, or even just in the sand! There are always activities placed outside on the tables too! Tiny dinosaurs and legos are the favorites that I have noticed.

The kids also have the option to help with afternoon snack. Today for snack we had bread with almond butter, oranges, and rainbow carrots! The kids assisted me and cut the carrots into bite-size sticks.

I take a thirty minute lunch break at 3:30. The next few hours I spend with the teachers and staff at Buen Dia playing with the kids.

We play everything from dress-up, to kitchen, to… THE TICKLE MONSTER IS COMING EVERYONE HIDE.

At Buen Dia, there are many options for the children’s play, after all, that is how children learn. I end my day with tiny hugs and smiles and “goodbye teacher Lexi, I see you tomorrow”.

Thank you Buen Dia.

“I found these for you teacher Lexi”

Part 2: “I found these for you teacher Lexi”


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Lexi Payton is pursuing a self-designed major in Critical Pedagogy and Creative Writing. Lexi grew up in small-town Goshen, Ohio but has enjoyed exploring cities on her co-op journey. She enjoys reading, writing, painting, and taking photos in her free time. Her academic interests include social justice and educational reform and looking at how they intersect. After her time at Antioch, Lexi hopes to pursue a career as a teacher in alternative education. Lexi is also interested in art education and teaching children how to use the natural world to create art. She especially enjoys spending time outside exploring with children.

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