Thursday, August 10, 2017

August 10, 2017

          With the warm days of August upon us and the new academic year on the horizon, I thought it would be helpful to update the community on a few important items we have been working on in preparation for September.  This time of year brings lots of changes as we switch over from Summer Mode to School Year Mode here at SCS, and lots of transitions happen now for students, staff, and the school itself.

  Seacoast Community School C.A.R.E.S.:  After some good, long, and fruitful sessions with faculty and administrators we have settled on five “Values” that best reflect the SCS experience, and ones that we want every child to know, understand, and apply as they go forward from our school.  We will be working as a faculty at the Professional Development Day in August to brainstorm how we can apply these values in the daily life of the school year ahead.  One way we know for sure will be to celebrate one value each year as a theme, and we will start with "Cooperation".
The values are: 
Cooperation - Working with others
Acceptance - Understanding others
Respect - Valuing others
Empathy - Feeling for others
Self-Confidence - Holding oneself with certainty amongst others

  New Classroom Coming:  Recent changes in the Portsmouth Public School schedule will affect SCS after-school Kindergarten as kids will no longer be bused to Community Campus in the afternoon.  Fortunately we will be able to staff and run afterschool kindergarten classes in the public elementary schools, so you can be sure that the good SCS programs and people you know and love will be there for the kids.  The change will also open up one full classroom at our main facility for expansion.  Although plans are not definite at this time, that class will potentially be infants if we can adjust classroom spaces to accommodate them.  We have long wanted to add an infant room and now just might be the time.  More information will follow.

  DayCare Works:  The new registrar system will be up and running in September and should greatly improve the flow of information to and from home and school.  We expect improvements in enrollment, information tracking, forms, permissions, billing, and a wide variety of other areas.  Please look for more information in the days ahead.

  Behavior on Campus:  As we are guests of the Foundation here at Community Campus it is important that we keep in mind respectful behavior at all times.  Please do not allow your children/charges to run down the hallways, and be especially mindful to use “walking feet” on the tiles in the main entrance.  All teachers and classes practice this during the day so please support them.  Also, we ask that do not allow children to slam the automatic door openers as they are more delicate than they may seem.  Please use them with care.

  New PEAK Program Offerings:  As school will now open and dismiss earlier at Little Harbour and Dondero Schools, we have adjusted our offerings to reflect family needs.  Traditional PEAK will run from dismissal to the new 4:30pm bus, while the “PEAK Plus” program will run from dismissal to 6:00pm.  Kindergarteners will no longer be bused to the Community Campus location after dismissal, and they will have their own “K-PEAK” space and programming at Little Harbour and Dondero.  Options and rates for the programs will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

An Inspiring Story ...

  The heart of a lioness:  Four year old Penelope Gagalis, an SCS student in our Greenland Preschool Program this year, is a little girl with amazing inner strength.  She underwent a hemispherectomy on June 7 at Boston Children’s Hospital to treat a rare form of epilepsy that first appeared in Penelope this year, and caused seizures for her that gradually increased in frequency to over 150 per day.  A fundraiser and online auction took place last month to raise money for Penelope and a page on Mealtrain.com has been used to set a schedule for meals for the Gagalis family.  Penelope has been at Children's for the past few weeks and will then go to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital for four to eight weeks to undergo physical, occupational, speech and vision therapy.  She will continue that therapy when she returns home to Rye.  All of us at SCS wish her the best in her recovery, and thank her for showing our entire community the depth of courage even a young person can have.

 The true mission and meaning of Seacoast Community School  With our mission being to provide "Nurturing care and exceptional education for all children of the Seacoast", I often look beyond that to wonder at what that means in today's world.  The "values work" the faculty did in June, combined with the Administration work at our retreat later this month, will provide us with lots of guidance.  I hope we can set a true "higher purpose" for our school that will allow everyone in our community to feel like we are fulfilling the important charge our mission provides us.  Many recent studies underscore the fact that even the youngest children are very impressionable.  We hope we can reach them with the right messages right from the start.

    Budgets, budgets, budgets: With the close of the fiscal year on June 30th, the Board approved a working budget for next year as submitted by the Finance Committee.  Included in that budget were many changes for faculty and staff that we think will really help improve quality of life at the school:  1) Increased spending and support of faculty Professional Development; specifically to encourage and pay for higher education courses/degrees in Early Childhood Education,  2) Improving and diversifying professional presentations during training days,  3) Encouraging and financially supporting administration and faculty to attend more and better conferences,  4) Potentially adding 401K matching as a benefit to all faculty who qualify.  These measures, in addition to increasing scholarship and enrichment funding, will affect all areas of the school during next year!

  2016-17 Fundraising Success!  With the incredible help of over 25% of Current Parents, 70% of the Faculty and Staff, and 100% of the SCS Board, as well as huge support from the entire school community we finished our fundraising year having met and surpassed our overall goal of $135,000, including our super-stretch 50th Celebration goal of $25,000 for the Annual Appeal! I cannot tell you how proud I am of this community and everyone who reached out to help us achieve these wonderful milestones.  Thank you to everyone who made this happen at every level of giving!

Some SCS Pics:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Out With the Old ... In With the New at SCS

  Transitions, transitions, transitions in Early Childhood:  The administrative offices are abuzz with work as our busiest time of year for ECE children transitioning to new levels takes place.  Many of the Shrimps are becoming Guppies, the Minnows becoming Clownfish, and the Stingrays becoming Spotted Turtles as well as lots of other changes.  Seeing kids that are just too big for their classrooms try out their new environments is always interesting; and it is happening for every age group now.  One of the nice parts of this "undersea metamorphosis" is to watch old friends reunited in higher levels as some kids had moved on earlier.  Being welcomed into a new class is always important, and we take it seriously.  Handling such important transitions in a child's life is one of the many things we do best here at SCS.  We also need to say goodbye to so many of our students who are moving to Kindergarten - we wish you all the best!

 As the Spring winds down, Summer PEAK starts up!  Just when you thought that wonderful PEAK faculty was leaving your kids, they have re-emerged as Summer PEAK staff at Little Harbor!  With great anticipation for what lies ahead, about 45 PEAKers met today for the first time and launched off into the summer.  Led by the indomitable Jamie Schaaf and his talented crew, there will be lots of learning and adventure for all!

    Sponsorships for the Memorial Bridge Roadrace are pouring in:  It's not too early to sign up for our annual 5K road race performed in conjunction with The Prescott Park Arts Festival happening on October 8th.  It's a great event with over 400 runners each year racing through the historic streets of Portsmouth, followed by a kids fun-run too.  The single $30 fee earns runners entry into the race, a great t-shirt (first 100 entrants), and full admission into the fabled Chili Cook-off after - what a deal!  Just click here to reserve your spot:  http://www.memorialbridgeroadrace.com/  If your business is interested in sponsoring please just contact Sarah Fleck at SFleck@Seacoastcommunityschool.org

   Professional Development Day Last Friday was a full day for the faculty as they worked from 8:30-4:00 on being better at what they do.  The morning was filled with workplace safety guidance which was taught by Kelly Lee in a fun and informative way.  What followed was a workshop focused on identifying the key values that we want all kids to celebrate while at our school and have with them as they move on from SCS.  Narrowing down these "virtues" will be the work of the administration during our yearly retreat this summer, and they should be ready for presentation to the entire community in the fall.  The final work of the day saw the ECE staff break from the PEAK staff and work on important topics such as class preparation and dealing with behavioral issues in children.  All important topics for sure!

Have a Great Summer!

Friday, June 9, 2017

June 9, 2017

Sunset Event a Smashing Success!!!  Last Saturday night was an evening to remember for Seacoast Community School as over 100 people joined to help us raise nearly $12,000 in support of the Scholarships, Enrichment, and Professional Development programs.  Jazz music supplied by the Chris Claxton Trio, delicious food catered by The Rusty Hammer Restaurant, and beverages supplied by Bay State Distributors and McKinnons Market all combined to make a great atmosphere.  Add in nice weather and a happy crowd and it was fun all around.  The highlight of the evening was the wild and crazy "Live Giving Event" where we filled our giving pyramids for each program and beyond! The crowd really "showed the love" as gifts were called out across the hall.  Over 30 donors gave gifts of $100 or more, and 15 donors gave gifts of $250 or more.  I speak for every child, parent, and faculty member when I say thanks to everyone who volunteered that night, and thanks to ALL who contributed to the success of this wonderful evening!
Jen Bagan speaks about the Enrichment Program

Live lobsters and more in the silent auction
Anxious bidders awaiting the Live Giving Event

Pyramids getting filled with great gifts!

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017

   New Rates/Tuition System Implemented In the hopes of clarifying how and why we charge what we do for tuitions at SCS, this year we implemented a new system during the rates-setting process that we think will greatly serve parents in the long run.  The new system now standardizes rates across all levels for the first time.  So Infant care is the most expensive, but the cost drops 5% for young toddlers care, and 5% less for toddlers, and so on.  In the future we plan to increase tuition overall at 3% each year, but the cost of the childcare to you will decrease by 5% per level.  That means your overall cost of childcare will decrease by 2% each time your child moves up a level.  Pretty nice eh?  We can afford to do this because our required ratios allow for larger classes with older kids, (and our rooms get bigger too).  This makes it so parents can project their future costs knowing what the tuitions will be each year ahead.  The rates changes this year were made to get all levels in line with this system, and that resulted in some levels increasing and some decreasing beyond 3% across the age groups.  One minor adjustment next year will finalize this process.  We also made certain that, no matter what, our rates continued to be lower than our major competitors in the market.  Dropping your overall costs 2% each year gives parents a light at the end of the tunnel, and yet still allows us to deliver the excellent education and nurturing care we are known for.

   Robotics Assembly Wows All AgesThe Enrichment Committee hit a home run during our last Campus assembly as they made arrangements for the New Heights robotics club to present "NAO" the singing and dancing robot.  What a treat it was to have NAO lead the whole group in with such favorites as "Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes" and "The Wheels on the Bus" while everyone joined in!  The kids were fascinated as NAO showed off his/her talents; sitting, standing, walking, and gesticulating with her/his hands.  Controlled from the nearby laptop, the Spotted Turtles group stayed after for a quick programming lesson too!

    Seacoast Healthy Grins Helps Teach About TeethCindy Bishop has been bringing her knowledge of healthy dental care to SCS for many years now and this spring is no exception.  As a Registered Dental Hygienist she works within the Portsmouth public school system, at Families First, and across all our SCS classes to help kids start early in taking care of their vital dental assets.  Espousing that "all children should have their teeth checked by age one or upon getting their first tooth," she checks every SCS child every year - even PEAK kids!

    Sunset Over Portsmouth Date Set for June 3rd 2017The Sunset Gala will be the biggest event on our social calendar this year and it should be yours too!  There will be live music, great food, and loads of fun so please be sure to be there!  Tickets this year will be available through Eventbright so you can order them and just show your phone when you arrive at the door.   Stay tuned for more details, but as of now SAVE THE DATE: JUNE 3rd 6-8pm!

   Spring Annual Appeal Success! The Development Committee of the Board continued efforts to reach our goal of $25,000 this year with super results!  We are now 79% to goal and at 24% parent participation!  Thanks to everyone who contributed at the giving tables and helped place a flower for every gift on our campus window display.

   Parent Help Wanted: We are looking for help with our SCS display at Children's Day in Portsmouth on Sunday May 7th.  If interested please contact Kelly Lee at 603-422-8223. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 21, 2017

Happy Spring Greets SCS Kids of All Ages!   With the last of the winter snowfalls behind us, we're looking forward to all the great adventures in learning that the new season will bring.  Getting outdoors and using the 90 plus acres of woodland around the Community Campus is a wonderful opportunity that most early childhood centers simply don't offer.  PEAK kids will also be taking advantage of this time of year as they stretch their limbs playing outdoor games and learning about the new awakenings Springtime affords.   Just a note: while the big snow piles melt in the campus parking lot, please be mindful and do not let children play on them as cars are all around.

Sunset Over Portsmouth Date Set for June 3rd 2017Calling all lovers of Seacoast Community School!  The Sunset tradition returns (after a year hiatus) and EVERYONE is invited to the biggest social event of our year!  As in years past we are planning a wonderful evening together at the Discover Portsmouth Center with music, food, and fun people from the SCS Community, but this year there will be a whole new twist with special opportunities for everyone to support the programs at SCS that we all hold dear.    Stay tuned for more details, but as of now SAVE THE DATE 6/3/17!

New! SCS Parent Portal ComingImagine being able to schedule your child's time at SCS ahead, view your recent use of services, add or change your designated pick-up people, be reminded of immunization dates, change and update your personal information, register more kids, and best of all, do each of these tasks from anywhere.  Well, all of these functions and more are part of the Parent Portal of ChildWatch, our new registrar software that we will be rolling out over the next few months.  Want a first look?  Click here:  https://remarkable-systems.com/ASPNET/RemSysInc/RemSysInc/Pages/Home

Yelp Seacoast Community School:  No, that is not a misprint, you can help SCS by reviewing us on Yelp - the app used by many folks to rate everything from restaurants to Jazz clubs to home services.  If you use Yelp, as millions of others do, could you please take a moment to let everyone know how you feel about your school?  We are very confident that your words will help others see the goodness of our school, and consider SCS for their children too.

Spring Annual Appeal Launches in April Look for the familiar donation table during mornings and evenings at the Community Campus and in the afternoons at PEAK sites and contribute to help us reach our participation goal of 100%!  Current Parents can donate ANY AMOUNT to help us achieve it.  Please take a moment from your busy lives to stop and show your support for the teachers, the staff, and the programs you so admire at our school.

CORRECTION: Last post I mistakenly gave the wrong date of our upcoming Big Birthday Bash in November.  The correct date is Saturday, November 4th - please mark your calendar.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

     New logo celebrates "50 Years of Caring for our Community's Children" With the recent formation and launching of the 50th Birthday Committee, one of the premier tasks was to come up with an image and tagline for the celebrations this year.  After lots of discussion we devised the golden "50" logo above and approved the tagline that speaks to our work over the many years and with the literally thousands of children that have come through our doors.  The Committee will be encouraging celebrations at every major event in the year ahead so look for the golden balloons and free birthday gifts we will be giving away.  We also have designated November 3rd as the official Birthday Celebration Day with special events all day, so mark your calendars now!

     Looking for Alumni!  Do you know someone, anyone, anywhere who attended Community Child Care Center BEFORE 2004?  Please contact Amie in the main office or get the name and contact information onto our "Found Alumni" list.  You will also be able to share them through our upcoming website link.  We want to invite everyone to the Birthday events at school (especially for the big celebration day) but believe it or not we have NO RECORDS of families, faculty, or attendees for any of our programs before that year.  We are depending on the entire seacoast community to fill in our missing information.  (We are also looking for old photographs if you have them!  Please get these to Kelly Lee.)

     Seacoast Science Center Presentation Brings Sea Life to SCSCan you walk like a crab?  Can you hide like a periwinkle?  Can you eat upside down like a barnacle?  Well, we can now that that we have seen these creatures for real in our school assembly this week.  With the real Periwinkle Class staring in amazement, the Preschoolers all learned how to act just like the various sea life they were witnessing.  Having a live presentation is the next best thing to actually playing in a tidepool - and the live lobster, well that made more than a few little eyes pop out!

     Technology Committee Update:  The past few months in this group have been focused on narrowing down the myriad registrar softwares available to run independent schools and Early Childhood Education centers.  By first identifying our long list of needs, we have finally pared the search down to 3 packages that are being demoed to the administration this week.  Our needs are plenty including: a fully cloud based system, a robust parent portal for forms, information, announcements etc., an online and automatic billing and payment system, a child check-in/out system, an immunization tracking function, and an interface with our accounting and development office software - among many more.  Change is on the horizon, and we know you will appreciate it!

     PEAK Communication Improvements Make a Difference Of all the areas of the school affected by the new computer and phone hardware, as well as the Google Suites Apps, the PEAK Programs seem to have experienced the greatest amount of change for the better.  Maybe it has to do with where we started from last summer, but parents and teachers alike are hailing the addition of better communications between PEAK programs and home, better tracking of kids, as well as better cooperation between teachers at the various sites.  SCS programs always emphasize the interpersonal relationships as paramount and will never supplant a computer for a person, but in the background there is a lot more cooperation and sharing going on between programs and people.  Hopefully we can continue to improve in the months ahead and keep PEAK moving upward!

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