By Catherine Wayland
Hi Mamas – how are you? Christmas has past us by once again; we just turned the corner on Valentine’s Day and are on our way to spring. We mama bears love the holidays, the change of seasons and traditions. We save locks of our babies hair, spend every November 25th cooking or eating, and save our wedding dresses at a local dry cleaners in case our daughters want to wear it. So, I thought I might start a new tradition for my fellow New York City mamas. One that honors you as you honor everyone so preciously in your lives. Let’s take one month a year to celebrate one of our New York City sister-mamas who embody everything beautiful – radiance inside and out, style, pizzazz, elegance and that something that turns heads. This year the choice was obvious to me every time I brought Jax to his Preschool of America on West End Avenue (ph:212-362-0135) and greeted the director, Kate Smith.
When I was searching for a place to send my precious Jax a couple days a week, I went through the torturous process that many Big Apple Mamas talk about. I interviewed, I toured, and I wrote essays. It ranked directly behind the agony I experienced when buying our apartment in New York and going in front of the co-op board. Arduous. Ironic. But I stayed strong. I insisted that I was the buyer, not the seller. I almost gave up. Then I met Kate Smith. Unlike many school directors in New York City, she had heart. Tons of it. She was so assured of the product she represented, her son was in attendance there. Actually, Kate’s son Liam is in the same class with my Jax.
Yes, the school and curriculum impressed me. Everything was new and beautiful and sat on a park by the river. But what cinched it for me was Kate and Preschool of America’s philosophy for their personnel. Kate mentioned when sharing the school year calendar that there would be two paid weeks off a year for the staff. She explained that the philosophy at Preschool and for her was that if the employees felt loved, they would love the children. Amen, amen, amen. You cannot give what you ain’t got. It is my own mother philosophy in a nutshell. That was it for me. Where do I sign? That statement has been the truth of the smile on my son’s face every time we head out the door on the way to school. He sings his teachers names, “Miss Margo, Miss Kelly, la la la.” It is music to a mother’s ears.
Kate is a hard-working mama and professional that’s own smile is as wide as the Hudson River her school overlooks. Kate has a background in education and was a teacher herself before an administrator. She is a native New Yorker, from Queens. Kate is still with her high school sweetie. Her passion is, of course, staff development and training. Kate’s enthusiasm is infectious. She is both a teacher and a student. Kate assures all the nervous parents with both her knowledge and her own surprise at all the possibilities of children.
Kate makes beautiful look easy. I asked her if she had a secret to share with my mama readers. She said she shared the same secret as the one Maya Angelou spoke in a poem about the confidence of how you carry yourself. Bam! Yes, I thought. That’s it. Regardless of the chaos of dozens of families giving the minutia of details about how to care for their children, the phones ringing, doorbells ringing, the emergencies involving injury, the paperwork, the paperwork, the paperwork – Kate carries herself like a woman walking the red carpet of a movie premiere.
As far as products go, Kate is mostly a L’Oreal gal. She uses many of their products including their mascaras and tanning gel, “Sublime.” Other than that, she’s a cheap date, dousing herself in Oil of Olay products (some of the best skincare on the market, by the way), night and day. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Kate describes herself as “moisturizer freak.” Well, if you are going to have a neurosis, that’s a pretty sound one.
Confidence, a flair for color and a pair of three-inch heels are all hidden inside Kate’s “yummy mama” beauty recipe. Her wonderful confidence Kate credits to her biggest fan and husband, Matt. Matt and Kate have been together a long time (I won’t say exactly how long and give away Kate’s age!) and are still in love. Love and happiness are the most important ingredients of beautiful. Kate has all that and more! Brava, brava Kate and in the brilliant words of my Jax, “la la la!”