October 1, 2015

“I hope she stays here forever” – Phyllis Palmer, Volunteer Extraordinaire!

Posted in Awards, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), United Way, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , at 11:51 am by Lund

Teachers and children at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program love volunteer Phyllis Palmer. The children love that whatever she is doing with them, she makes them feel important and cared for and the teachers feel exactly the same way. Phyllis has taken on the charge of caring for the whole program. Childcare Coordinator Judy Harvey says, “Phyllis has gone above and beyond what I could ever expect from a volunteer. Her work with the children is amazing and everyone loves her. She just does what needs to be done, whatever it is. And she takes the most wonderful care of the teachers. It feels like she has been here forever. I hope she stays here forever.”

When there is something that needs to be done, Phyllis gets to it. “I hope that in the few hours I am at Lund each week I can contribute to the collective effort that makes the center so special and run so smoothly,” she says. “Sometimes that includes sweeping the floor after snack, wiping down rest mats or washing a few dishes. It also might mean rubbing the back of a restless 3 year old, or reading a book to whoever needs a lap and some one-on-one time with an adult.”

Phyllis, a retired Kindergarten and First Grade teacher, is especially dear to the older preschoolers. She brings intentional structured activities to work with the children on early literacy and math skills. She is able to bring small groups of children out of the classroom to play learning games and practice the skills that they will need in kindergarten. The children love Phyllis and look forward to their time with her. They refer to her days as “Phyllis Days” and take the “schoolwork” or “kindergarten work” they do with her very seriously.   These children would not have such focused exposure to these activities without Phyllis. She is actively improving their level of kindergarten readiness and giving them tools and experiences that will help them succeed in kindergarten from the very first day. The children are excited about school and know what to expect when they get to Kindergarten.

This genuine and considerate care does not stop with the children. She takes great care of the teachers at the program as well, knowing that the work they do is challenging but crucial for the happiness, stability and education of the children. One rainy summer day she dropped off a new copy of “Blueberries for Sal” and homemade blueberry bread for the teachers to enjoy. She accompanied her gift with an uplifting note that said, “Blueberries need the rain.” She knows and appreciates how hard it is to be stuck inside because of rain with active toddlers and preschoolers who need to run, climb and get outside in the fresh air.   She also has volunteered for two years in a row (in searing heat in 2014 and cold, windy rain in 2015) to work at the rest stop at the Charlotte Senior Center providing snacks and help to riders participating in the Lund Ride for Children.

The teachers at LECP were delighted to nominate Phyllis for a United Way Building Block Award for her outstanding commitment to the program. She was honored, along with many other community members, at the United Way’s celebration breakfast last week held at the Flynn Theater in Burlington.   “Receiving a United Way Building Block Award was quite a surprise! If somehow it sheds light on the amazing job the whole staff at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program does every day of every week, then I am both honored and humbled.” Once again not missing the chance to celebrate and look out for the teachers who are so happy to work alongside her.

Phyllis (third from right) with the other winners of the United Way Building Blocks Awards for Education at the Flynn Theater, September 24, 2015.

Phyllis (third from right) with the other winners of the United Way Building Blocks Awards for Education at the Flynn Theater, September 24, 2015.

 

September 19, 2014

Family Dinner at LECP

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , at 9:46 am by Lund

What better way to celebrate the start of fall than with a delicious community dinner outside complete with musical entertainment and lots of friends to play with?  This was scene on Wednesday night at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program at the Hoehl Family Building.  Kirtani Mathauer, teacher in the young toddler room, led the event inspired by community cooking classes and dinners she had helped with at other early childhood programs.  She was looking for a way for families to connect and spend some time together getting to know each other.  Parents drop off their children at different times and so their paths may never cross despite their children spending all day together.   This event was a chance to meet and eat together.

Research shows that eating together as a family is good for the brain, health and spirit of all family members.  Yum!

Research shows that eating together as a family is good for the brain, health and spirit of all family members. Yum!

The sun even made an appearance after a day of clouds and it was still warm enough to eat, play and dance outside.  The menu consisted of pasta, meatballs, eggplant parm, salad, garlic bread, and dessert provided by LECP and also dishes brought by families.  There were even enough leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day.  After dinner LECP teacher, Collin and his friend Kyle played music.  There’s nothing like toddlers dancing with their friends to a John Prine cover in the waning light of an early fall evening to make you feel pretty good about the state of the world.  The play structure built last Spring by volunteers from dealer.com served as great front row seating for the show and also provided the usual jumping and climbing entertainment for the children.

“I’m proud of the turnout,” said Kirtani, “one parent told me it was the best community dinner he’d been to at an education program because it was so relaxed and gave everyone the time to eat, have fun and talk.”

Healthy eating is a key priority at LECP as many of the children come from families struggling with food insecurity or limited access to nutritious food.  The children eat meals and snacks family style and learn how to behave considerately at the table while they enjoy a wide variety of dishes cooked on site in the school kitchen.  Lund is planning expand the food program to run parent-child cooking workshops.  This will be helped by a recent generous grant  from Seventh Generation that will provide the needed equipment to set the kitchen up efficiently and safely for the children.

Kirtani plans to organize another family dinner next year and attract even more families to share a meal together.  Thank you to all the teachers who worked hard to make this event come together and to all the families who attended and brought food to share.

July 29, 2014

First ever team Employee of the Quarter award

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Awards, Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , at 4:46 pm by Lund

The sight of lots of people gathered in the hallway of Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program last Friday afternoon was probably  confusing at first for the toddler looking out from the vantage point of his teacher’s arms but he soon picked up on the air of celebration and happiness amongst the crowd.  His teacher and all her colleagues were being awarded Lund’s first ever team Employee of the Quarter award.

Bringing joy to Joy Drive, every day.

Bringing joy to Joy Drive, every day.

Associate Director of Residential and Community Treatment, Courtney Farrell, read out a glowing nomination about the wonderful work that the 14 full-time and one part-time teachers at LECP do every single day.  “As a team, the teachers in childcare make a huge difference in the everyday lives of the children at Lund and embody our missions as an agency to help children and families thrive.  Their commitment to meeting the needs of children is so commendable and we are all so impressed with their work each and every day.”

LECP serves 50 of Vermont’s most vulnerable children and every day the teachers are faced with the challenging behaviors that come from a population living lives of constant transition and turmoil.  They give the children love, consistency, structure and fun and strive to spark their curiosity and imagination in every interaction.  There are hard moments of course but the progress that the children make under the love and supervision of these dedicated teachers is inspirational.  From playing with blue oobleck, to catching frogs, dancing, singing songs, reading the same book ten times back to back and hours of dramatic play inspired by the garbage truck that pulls up behind the playground, children are thriving at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program thanks to the energy, love and commitment of their amazing teachers.

Congratulations to all the teachers.  Thank you for bringing joy to Joy Drive.

April 30, 2014

Let’s Grow Kids Launch Party

Posted in Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), Sponsor Spotlight tagged , , , , , at 9:14 am by Lund

Let’s Grow Kids is a new statewide public education campaign about the importance of quality early childhood education. Funded by a collaboration of private foundations, Let’s Grow Kids is working with Vermont communities, organizations, businesses, and individuals to create positive lasting change that will allow all of our children to succeed in life.  The campaign grew out of a survey that showed that most Vermonters do not understand the importance of the early years of a child’s life despite research proving that 90% of a child’s brain is developed before age 5 and that early experiences lay the foundation for later success.   The campaign was launched last Friday, April 25th, at Main Street Landing with a press conference featuring some of the leading advocate for early childhood education in the state.

Stimulating early brain development through play lays the foundation for life long success.

Stimulating early brain development through play lays the foundation for life long success.

Running concurrently to the press conference were activities for children including painting with marbles, colored shaving foam, worms to study, books to read and music and dancing.  It was a feast of non-stop fun.  (And fig bars!) The activities were connected to the Let’s Grow Kids 5 simple things that every child needs to do:

Sing – singing exposes babies to rhythm and pitch
Eat well – reading introduces babies to the sounds and words of language
Read – a nutritious diet helps babies to develop good physical and emotional health
Play – play teaches children motor skills, cooperation and problem solving.
Talk – talking to babies helps them to focus on the specific sounds of their native language

The campaign is currently focused on building awareness of the importance of the time of intensive brain development between 0 and 3 years.  They are asking people to sign the following pledge which you can do at their website at letsgrowkids.org

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I want a society where all children can grow and live to their full potential. Because 80% of a child’s brain develops by age 3, building the foundation for success in life, I believe it’s important we ensure that Vermont’s children have quality early experiences. Therefore, I support efforts to build positive, lasting change that will allow all of our children the opportunity to succeed in life. – See more at: http://www.letsgrowkids.org/#pledge
I want a society where all children can grow and live to their full potential. Because 80% of a child’s brain develops by age 3, building the foundation for success in life, I believe it’s important we ensure that Vermont’s children have quality early experiences. Therefore, I support efforts to build positive, lasting change that will allow all of our children the opportunity to succeed in life. – See more at: http://www.letsgrowkids.org/#pledge