Dear Parents and staff and the Hampshire Franklin Children’s Day Care Center,

It is with a heavy heart (and empty gas tank) that I must announce my last day at the center. Many of you don’t know that I began my relationship with HFCDC in 1980 as an Amherst High School student.  I worked afternoons and summers until graduating at which time I joined the staff full time.  I have been at the center for about 20 of the last 25 years.  WOW, ½ of my life.

Therefore I must torture you with my swan song.

I grew up in the Berkshires, about an hour from here and have never been someone who liked to travel.  Through HFCDC I believe I have seen the world.  I have cared for children from more places that I can name.  I have experienced more cultures than I could visit in a lifetime.  I have been touched by lives in ways I could not have imagined.  I have made life-long friends too numerous to count.

While society as a whole gives little significance to our roles as providers I have always been gratified and proud of what we do.  We possess the skills necessary to create a friendship with your child so comfortable that we become an extended member of your family.  You now can leave your eager, happy child and go to “adult land” with as little trauma (remember the first day) and guilt as possible.  Every morning when the door opens and one of the kids runs into the room I know we do an important job.

Please humor me for a few more lines.

A few special “milestones” include Sienna (preschooler) is my second generation girl. Her mother, Jenny was also a toddler and preschooler during my early years here.  I have seen my close friends’ sons graduate from high school, who were here as little guys.  One of our boys was in a movie on Comedy Central that he co-wrote and produced.  We have a Boston College basketball star who I completely remember lugging around.  It is really fun to run into the children when they’ve grown.  Most often the very core of their little face is recognizable to me no matter how long it has been.  I have sadly accepted, however, that as their life gets bigger we teachers fade into a distant blur. Our importance is quite fleeting but fun while it lasts.

I have lived in Heath on our little farm with my husband, horses, and dogs for 15 years now.  It takes about an hour give or take to travel to HFCDC.  At this point I am stretched too far.  It is impossible for me to meet the center’s needs and future goals while helping my husband run his electrical contracting business.  We have just celebrated two strong years and it seems we may just make it.  My future includes bookkeeping for my husband’s business and spending every moment possible this summer and fall fishing at our place on Lake Ontario.  Then I look for a very, very quiet part-time job nearer to home.

I know I will miss HFCDC but I also know it is being left in very capable hands.  The center has a special gravitational pull toward good people and I have no doubt they will keep coming.  Even though my pockets feel just as empty as they did 25 years ago, I leave the center feeling richer than most.  Thanks for your time.

- Melissa, former teacher