Kindness is an act of showing love and grace to others in all circumstances. Each one of us expresses it differently but the meaning is still the same. Elizabeth Sweatt, the director of The Little School preschool in downtown Franklin, is a graceful lady who shows her love and kindness daily to the world around her. This wife and mother of two, opens her office and her heart to the children and families that make up this preschool program. The scripture verse 1 Corinthians 13, is one of Elizabeth’s favorites because it is such a good reminder of what love is and how to show love. She believes when you meet people, you never know what they are going through, and how a kind word and a smile goes so far. As the director, Elizabeth reminds her teachers, to never underestimate the mileage of a smile. I love the quote by William Arthur Ward, “a warm smile is the universal language of kindness”.
Walking into this native Tennessean’s office, there are two objects that Elizabeth cares deeply for. The first one you notice as soon as you walk in, is an enlarged photo sitting behind Elizabeth’s desk. This photograph shows the love her family has for one another, while the background reflects the strength that is always surrounding them. In the picture her children are smiling brightly, standing in front of a glassy lake, at the base of these tall rigid mountains surrounded by lush pine trees at Yellowstone National park. Elizabeth said the other important fixture is a chair that is placed in front of her desk. This leather wingback chair, is where members of The Little School family come and share their heart and soul to her kind, listening hear.
Wisdom is a trait that we gain from the experiences in our lives, and when we can share it, we can bless others. The advice Elizabeth would share with herself 10-15 years ago, would be to just slow down and look at the big picture. Don’t sweat the small things because life goes by way to fast. Good advice for all of us, as we try and juggle so many hats at once. Just breathe. That is such a hard lesson.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. I love this quote and all it implies! It gives me energy to keep pursuing mine. Besides dreaming of success for Elizabeth’s own children’s lives, she also wishes that the pendulum would swing again in education. Where there wouldn’t be so much pressure put on preschool age up to second grade kids. That is a dream many of us can relate to.
Family memories can be stirred around objects and things in our lives that hold such value. For example, my grandmother loved birds, so every time I see a bird, I think of her. Elizabeth’s mother gave Elizabeth and her sisters a wonderful gift years ago. It is a handwritten cookbook, full of family stories attached. How special to not only have those stories, but to also have those recipes in her handwriting. Elizabeth also has her grandfather’s desk in her house. Every time she looks at it, it reminds her of when she was a little girl, and how he would have her put his mail in it. These are treasures that can be passed down from generation to the next, still holding onto those special memories.
The Little School preschool was started by a group of mothers in 1979, who simply wanted a pre-k program for their children. Today, there are 27 women working and loving on the children in this school, which is, as Elizabeth says, “phenomenal”! A group of women with an idea and a dream, making a difference in the lives of others. Now 30 years later, this dream is still thriving. That is in part because of the graceful Elizabeth Sweatt. Her love for family, education, her teachers and the children of this special school has made the world around her a better place because of her influence.