Executive Director Spring 2009 Newsletter

SPRING 2009 NEWSLETTER – you will find:

  • Harvest Festival Results
  • Offering Kindergarten at BBL
  • Kindergarten Informational Session
  • Contract Renewal
  • Food Program Update
  • Behind the Scenes at BBL:
    • Smartboard Presentation with Hatch
    • Birthday Parties
    • Where in the world is the Executive Director…

Harvest Festival:

Every year, through the Harvest Festival fundraiser, we support a non-for profit organization that embodies the philosophy of Beyond Basic Learning. Last year, we donated part of the monies to the Hoboken Museum to encourage programs for young children (See the newspaper clippings located in the vestibule of both the North and South schools). The other part of the monies raised went towards the purchase of digital cameras for every classroom, which resulted in an increase of photos depicting the children in action throughout the school.

This year we raised a total of $2,522.83. In the week of February 9th at Beyond Basic Learning North, part of the money raised will be donated to Choosing Project Home under the Women Rising Organization www.womenrising.org. This organization supports single mothers and their children by providing housing, self-help skills, and children’s services. Both the Green and Blue Butterfly classroom children will have the opportunity to meet the Director and ask questions about the organization. In addition, both classrooms have been working diligently on creating their interpretation of “Love” to be presented as a gift for the children of Women Rising.

Kindergarten at BBL …Update!

In past years, families have inquired about a Kindergarten class at BBL. After meeting with parents as well as my mentors in the educational field, I am glad to announce that BBL will open a Kindergarten class called the Garden in September of 2009!

The program will be opened for children who are 5 years old by December 1st. The reason for the decision was driven by the limited amount of kindergarten space available in both the private and charter schools in Hoboken. The goal of the program is to limit enrollment to families whose children have had prior early childhood schooling. At this time, the plan is to transform the Green Butterfly Room into the Garden.

We are planning to have the Garden, Butterfly, Caterpillar, and Cocoon rooms at the North location and possibly a Butterfly room at the South location along with the Caterpillar and Cocoon classrooms. However, the exact age groups cannot be determined until we receive the contract renewals with your preference. As it is customary, our contract renewal deadline takes place after the private schools make their decision in order to aid families who are seeking the elementary schools.

The Garden will be opened from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. which will provide for before and after care. There will be a special registration for the Kindergarten class. Families that would like to be considered for Kindergarten should send an email to info@beyondbasiclearning.com.

Please be mindful that we are in the beginning stages of the transition and will need to assess the enrollment and contract renewal responses before we solidify the rooms.

Kindergarten Informational Session at BBL

As part of my Beyond Basic initiatives in helping families demystify the enrollment process for kindergarten and beyond, I met with the Blue and Green Butterfly families in a round table discussion. We were excited to be able to invite parents that had undergone this experience.

Below is a list of schools represented in our round table discussions along with the participating parents:

  • Mustard Seed School – Beth Perez
  • All Saints- Amy Whelan
  • Stevens Cooperative-Liz Groo
  • Elysian Charter – Charlen McNeil
  • Hoboken Elementary- Ms. Mary Drexel

The discussions covered after-school care, the initial visit, as well as other day-to-day routines of the children attending these schools.

Contract Renewal:

The new contracts are scheduled to be given to families during the week of February 23 and returned to us by March 11. For this reason, we moved the Executive Director’s Breakfast in the school calendar to March 3rd and 4th. Some of the major changes to the contract apply to the manner in which the early withdrawal is exercised with BBL. Last year, we experienced an increase of siblings listed in our waiting registry. Since siblings receive first priority, we had a group of parents renew their contract in March for both their children. Then, as we entered June or July, they would provide the 60 day notice for their oldest child while maintaining the enrollment for the younger one. Because the spaces were being reserved for these children, we did not schedule meetings for the older sibling’s space and infants who had priority of enrollment had to find alternative arrangements.


The implications were vast; not to mention that we had a limited number of days before we closed for the summer. In order to maintain the option of early withdrawal, what we have done is to designate the time period when it can be exercised. So during the contract renewal period which takes place in March, families that renew for September will be able to withdraw once the September school year begins. However, any families that would like to alter their Summer Enrollment have until May 5th to change their minds. As we get closer to the date, we will be providing you with a list of frequently asked questions surrounding the contract renewal process.

Food Program Update:

As we continue to finalize the arrangements with Turning Point, we would like to share with you some commonly asked questions about the process:

Some questions asked during the Turning Point presentation:

Are the meal plans mandatory?
No. Some families had approached me regarding a breakfast/lunch service. We partnered with Turning Point because we do not have the facilities available at our school.

Do I have to subscribe for the entire week?
No. The number of days that you enroll may vary from week-to-week providing families with the flexibility to manage their individual family’s needs.

I find that the cost is high for a children’s meal?
BBL does not set the price. However, the cost includes the time of preparation, delivery, and flexibility that will accompany each order. Turning Point has even taken into consideration children who do not like their food touching and ordered special containers that all will be able to use and recycle.

Once I start, can I cancel?
Yes. The goal here is to provide families with some relief to their busy schedule.

Is it possible to order the same day?
Not at this time. This is a new program for both Turning Point and BBL. Thus, during the pilot period, we will ask families to order a week in advance. As we become familiar with the process, we will be able to provide more flexibility.

Will snack be included?
That was an item that was overlooked in the planning. One of the many ways that classrooms cover snack is through families rotating the responsibility in the classroom for that week. I will also discuss it with Turning Point.

Does BBL receive any type of compensation for this arrangement?
Yes. I did ask that my teachers receive a free cup of coffee or tea in the morning and 10% off their lunch menu.

Behind the Scenes at BBL:

Smart Board…

As many of you know, we have the first Hatch Smartboard technology designed for Pre-School in New Jersey. Although others may carry the Smartboard technology, the Hatch system creates programming suited for young children.

Because of this, Hatch came to our school to showcase the technology to other educators in the area and provided a 10% discount to any one in the audience that purchased the system after the presentation. The participants were so impressed by the manner and ease of the children with the board that they committed to purchasing the system for their school.

I would like to thank Ms. Dorothy, Ms. Jessica, and the Green Butterfly Families for supporting us during this process.

Birthday Parties…..

Birthday parties are back at BBL with themes and activities for every age group. What we have done is to create Birthday party themes around children’s books that delight the children’s imagination and come to life in the classroom.

Using new and old children book releases, we have recreated them in the classroom. From books such as The Great Kapok Tree with a Safari theme and treasure hunt and Minji Salon which has a beauty theme with dress-up and much more which will delight both boys and girls. In addition, each child will be receiving a copy of the theme book as a momentum. Families that do not wish to have a theme are able to design their own celebration.

As part of the 3 hour package, a Beyond Basic Learning teacher will assist you as much or as little as you need to ensure that everyone has a wonderful time. The birthday parties will only take place in the older classrooms and not in the infant rooms. In addition, BBL families will receive a discounted rate for having their birthday parties with us.

BBL has received requests for Birthday party space. In the past, we have facilitated the space for parents who wanted to organize an infant/toddler CPR classes and other events. I felt that one of the ways that BBL may be able to keep prices down and supplement the cost of materials for the school could come from Birthday party events.

Where in the world is the Executive Director…

For me, there is never a dull moment in the world of BBL. These past few months, I have been working with the Lead Teachers to fine tune the theme in their classroom. I met with them as a group or individually to review some of the key deliverables in their studies such as: Science, cooking, sports, and books selection.

Then I spend time in various classrooms to get a hands-on feel for the children. This past week, I was the assistant teacher in the Green Butterfly and the Purple Cocoon room. I also conducted a sports activity in the Red Caterpillar Room and rolled around with my busy body babies in the Orange Cocoon Room.

I’ve also…

  • Conducted two trainings for the Urban League http://ulohc.org: One for Directors on benefits and planning and the second one for teachers in curriculum design for infant & toddlers.
  • Visited a Kindergarten class to obtain information and insight into the structure.
  • Participated at the Director’s meeting in lower Manhattan www.decanyc.org .
  • Met with Hatch on the direction of the Smartboard in our school.
  • Requested a revision to our BBL North license which is now able to service children 2 months through 13 years of age.
  • Met with the NAEYC chapter of Essex and Hudson County to understand the current educational climate for children in NJ.
  • Adding new innovation to the BBL website. Have a look! beyondbasiclearning.com

Again, I want to thank my wonderful team who have embraced the vision and pushed ahead with the belief that children are capable of doing great things!

I look forward to seeing you at the Executive Breakfast in March!

Kindly,
Zuleika

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