Working Toward a Life's Goal
Making a Life in Education and Art
Wouldn’t you love to be a Little Explorer?
"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand."
That’s Cate Raphael’s philosophy of teaching, and the lucky small children who spend time in her Little Explorer program experience it every day.
If I had small children there’d be nothing more attractive than the prospect of leaving them in the care of Cate Raphael. They’d love being a Little Explorer--who wouldn’t?
Cate has an artist’s view of the world: creative, imaginative, open to fun, and enterprising. A perfect person with whom to leave your children.
Cate is a washashore, having come here after college thirty years ago, with a boyfriend. They married and had a son and divorced, but Cate never gave a thought to leaving Nantucket. So first she had to ask the hard question: how to manage out here with a son to support? That led to a variety of jobs, to possibilities that didn’t extend as far as she would have liked, to jobs that lacked the opportunity to use the Montessori training she’d received in Newburyport long ago.
She’d always wanted to do art AND work with children, having studied early fine arts and early childhood education at Goddard College. Despite that her career path was not exactly direct. Unsurprisingly for a Nantucketer she’s worked at practically everything on-island. Early on she worked at jobs unrelated to children: Something Natural and the Atlantic Café. For a while she worked at Carrie Breeding’s now-defunct pre-school, the Lighthouse School, and then at the Children’s House, finally starting her own summer program in arts and sciences, taking children from 3 to 5 years old. At Small Friends she taught toddlers and in the preschool program, and then found that being Director was not the kind of position she did best. Then there was another job unrelated to children: Nantucket Magazine (doing ad sales). She was able to work with children tangentially when she was a naturalist guide for the Trustees of Reservations for three years.
Finally she got back to teaching, by starting Little Explorers in 2004. Little Explorers, a licensed home daycare program (how stuffy that sounds!) is actually a pre-school program for 2.9 – 5 year-olds, who go with Cate on excursions into the moors, forests, fields and beaches of Nantucket. Many pictures appear on Cate’s Facebook page of Little Explorers turning large logs into dragons (how fun is that?), or planting a garden or using paper towel rolls to race marbles. They are clearly doing what children need to do most, and what is never provided to them by television or video games: using their imagination and enjoying wonderful games of their own devising.
But all along, even after achieving the education goals of her youth, the artistic side was percolating within Cate, the side that she had explored as an undergraduate at Goddard but which she couldn’t see earning her a living.
And then—four years ago--the painting started to flow again. Cate painted what she saw and felt every day out here on this wonderful island. And this spring she submitted her work for consideration by the Artists’ Association of Nantucket: and she was accepted! Now a life-long dream has come true: recognition of her favorite activity as her profession.
Congratulations, Cate! We look forward to seeing more of your work at the AAN, and enjoying your growth and development as an artist. And our children are fortunate to have you as a guide to nature on Nantucket, helping them discover the natural world, creating joy as they go.
And if you're interested in Cate's Little Explorers summer camp, contact her at [email protected].