When you join a new school community, you quickly learn the characteristics and traditions that make that place unique. Last year, I made my first school switch in my career. I quickly learned, that although I was still working in the same district, every school has it’s own feel and way of doing things. I spent a lot of time observing, soaking it all in, often feeling like a new student…kind of lost.
One event that I was eager to witness was the yearly duck event. Our school is across the street from a river and for many years now, a mother duck has found her way into our school courtyard, to lay her eggs. The courtyard is surrounded by windows and these mother ducks have typically situated themselves next to the same window, year after year. Kids and classes stop to peek at the duck as she protects and keeps her eggs warm. Students have made signs, to remind their peers to be quiet so the duck can rest peacefully as she waits, as the whole schools waits.
I had heard about the excitement of the eggs hatching. How a team of teachers had formulated a plan, based on years of experience and consultation with duck whisperers, to help the ducks exit the courtyard. If they wait too long, they risk large birds preying on the tiny ducklings. So this duck team waits until all of the children have exited the building for the day and then their expedition begins. The ducks are carefully escorted through the school halls, on a predetermined path, out the front doors where they can once again access the river. The route has been adapted over the years. I’ve heard that in years past, the ducks had to be escorted across the busy main road, back to the river. Now there is an alternate route that doesn’t involve crossing the street. This whole process is well documented as families of ducks are pictured throughout our school library, making this important journey.
Last year, I waited for that duck to arrive and when she finally did, I made it a point to peek at her and her eggs daily. How peaceful it was to watch her, nestled on top of her eggs, blending in with the leaves around her. I was part of the frenzy, eagerly anticipating the babies arrival and the excitement of the journey they were going to face.
This year, before we left for spring break, there was a bit of a buzz. Where was the duck? Would she come? Wasn’t she already here by this time last year? Sure enough, when we came back from break today, there was an email from a staff member letting us know that mama duck was back. The tradition lives on. The waiting begins.