Friday, January 15, 2021

Happy New Year!

The long year of 2020 is behind us and we are on to 2021!  Though this past year looked so very different than ones before, we can confidently say that our school leaped over hurdles and persevered with great success.  Throughout the many changes that have occurred, the bright light that has kept us all going is the children in our care each and every day. The smiling faces, laughter and learning that has continued to thrive at SCS shows us all how important our jobs are here - we have remained a safe, familiar place for children during an otherwise unfamiliar time. 

SCS Holds it Together Through Pandemic

A lot of you may be wondering how the school is doing financially during this rough time for all non-profits.  Well, I am glad to say that we are holding our own!  Keeping all our faculty employed and with full benefits is a huge strain on our budget given that we only have safe spaces for so many children, but we are making it by (still in the red, but making it).  We have applied for every loan, grant, and gift available to us and that has helped enormously.  Private gifts to SCS have helped us keep on track with our fundraising too, and the end of the calendar year request for donations was certainly successful.  Do you know of a granting institution, foundation, or private source willing to help us?  Please just contact me at PGilmore@seacoastcommunityschool.org.

SCS Main Campus Gather Food Drive - Another Success!

The classrooms at the main campus worked together during the month of November to collect food donations for the Gather Food Pantry - we are happy to report that we collected 134 pounds of food for our local community. We are grateful for the families and community members who participate in this yearly event and for the Stingray classroom who has hosted this drive for the past two years.


Winter Wonderland

With the colder, snowy weather comes many exciting outdoor adventures for all of our classrooms. As always, our teachers strive to create invigorating and meaningful outdoor experiences for children each day. Our nature trails have been busy with small feet exploring them - a favorite activity of our preschool students has been looking for animal footprints in the snow and ice.  It seems that squirrels and birds frequent the trails often and are the footprints discovered the most! 

Our older toddler classrooms have been exploring the outdoors using their senses - what better way to enjoy the snow than making snow angels and snow balls with your friends?  Our younger toddler classrooms have enjoyed exploring the snow removal equipment parked at the campus from a distance - they have been astounded by the size of the trucks and request to visit the parked vehicles often. As the winter continues and more snow falls, we know there will be many other enjoyable activities happening around our beautiful outdoor campus!

SCS Teachers Complete PTAN Training Series

During the months of October and November, the majority of our teachers participated in a 5 part e-learning series lead by the Preschool Technical Assistance Network. This training series focused on promoting social skills in the classroom, and trauma informed care for children - these topics tie nicely into this year's C.A.R.E.S theme of 'empathy'. The teachers and administration at SCS are always working towards adding more tools to their toolboxes and are continually working towards personal and school-wide professional development goals. 




 

Friday, November 6, 2020

An Autumn to Remember

 

Autumn is a Great Time - Even This Year!  Many New Englanders live and stay up north just so that they can experience the fall season - and so far this one has had wonderful weather!  At SCS we use every chance we get to bring kids out into the 80+ acres of open woodlands, fields, and preservation areas around our building.  They love exploring the woods, meeting furry critters, and playing in the thousands of colorful leaves, and this year our morning PEAK classes get to join in the fun.  Teachers use lots of activities to take advantage of our surroundings and safely expose the children to all kinds of fascinating things.  (The local turkey flock complete with a huge brilliantly colored Tom is a special treat.)  Kids and the great outdoors - what a combo!

Thanksgiving During COVID:  OK, so we made it through the summer, and we made it mostly through the fall with no shut-downs; 100+ days of school open and safe!  Now for the holiday season.  Here are some tips for keeping your family safe, and insuring the integrity of the school community, during the upcoming holiday:

  • Be sure to practice all the safe habits we have been advised by the CDC to do - this is no time to let down your guard about hand washing, masking, distancing, etc.
  • Play outside!!  We are all going to rediscover the joys of winter activities!
  • Monitor your kids for COVID symptoms and be sure to set up a quarantine area in your home if need be to keep everyone else safe.
  • To be extra safe, consider returning to SCS or PEAK after 5 days have passed from a Thanksgiving Day gathering, and getting a negative test result on the 5th day (December 2nd).  Some schools are closing for Monday and Tuesday of the week following the holiday for this reason.  We are re-opening Monday as usual.
  • Grab and Go Thanksgiving: Sitting indoors around a table eating and talking without masks is a recipe for a spreader event - try to make it just as fun without any of this going on.
  • Open a window whenever gathering indoors.  New research shows that fresh air is a great virus-deterrent in an enclosed space when people are together.
  • Please don't travel outside New England.  If you do, you'll have to wait 14 days after your return to rejoin SCS.

Important Date: November 12th is 14 days before Thanksgiving.  You can have visitors outside New England start self-quarantining here (in a hotel presumably) or in their homes from that day onward and they will be safe to visit you for Thanksgiving gatherings.  They cannot break quarantine and cannot be exposed on their trip to New Hampshire in order for this to work.  Obviously they can start quarantining earlier too.


Annual Fund Launches!  Each year the SCS Annual Fund makes up the difference between the cost of the program that your children enjoy and the actual tuition revenue we bring in - it's critical!  Last year we enjoyed more support than ever as we reached our goal of $75,000 and then some.  This year we are seeking a goal of $85,000 and with your help we can make it.  Note: A special week of giving will take place during Winter Spirit Week December 14th-18th.  Using a new online tool called "GiveCampus", this week will have a special focus on scholarships for our lower income families.  Look for more information on how you can help SCS families during Spirit Week in the days ahead. 


At Home Test Kits for COVID  Ever wonder how we get our faculty tested so quickly and back in the classroom after any questionable illness?  We know that eliminating COVID as a possibility is the best way to keep everyone safe so we encourage all our teachers to have a home test kit at their bedside.  These kits work great, are perfectly comfortable, and most insurance plans in New Hampshire pick up the cost.  Even if you do not have symptoms, as long as you work in a congested environment (like a school!) you can get them mailed to you and processed for free.  The FedEx shipping to/from is free too and results come online in under two days.  Order your kit online: www.pixel.labcorp.com

Grandparent Adventures:  What is the best way to enjoy the Grandparents/kids when you can't really be together and our traditional Grandparents Day at SCS gets cancelled?  Well, we are starting a series of inter-generational adventures and the first event is coming soon.  The "Online Hug" will be a great opportunity for you to have interactions and show how much you care for each other!  Watch for details from SCS and your classroom teacher soon!


 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

SCS: Safe Place - Fun Place!

SCS Invites Returning Families to a Safe School:  When we reopened the school in June we gave all current families the choice of returning to SCS right away or waiting until the end of summer.  About 60% of families re-enrolled immediately, while the remainder chose September.  Well, here we are and over 90% of our "prodigal" families have returned to SCS once again!  Our record of running a safe school through small class sizes, distanced class groups, screening, and mask wearing has left us with a sterling record against infections - and we fully plan on keeping that record intact!

Aarohi

Welcome New SCS Families!  Fall is such a great time of year - and in schools, always filled with the feelings of starting something fresh.  It means new beginnings, friends, and the academic year.  All this is underscored at SCS this September by the large number of new families now in attendance.  Serving "all children" of the seacoast means being open to literally everyone; including all socioeconomic groups, races, classes, religions, and orientations of people in our area.  As always, many of our new families are a diverse reflection of the seacoast.  Welcome everyone!

SCS Parents Committee Needs You!  The SCS Parents Committee will be forming up soon for the 2020-21 school year - WE NEED YOUR HELP!  Be involved in making SCS the best it can be by joining a great group of folks who want to have fun doing it.  Contact Marketing and Development Coordinator Sarah Fleck at SFleck@Seacoastcommunityschool.org now!
 
 Sorry, But Don't Save the Dates!  Due to the SCS pandemic policies we will not be having our traditional Fall Parent Potluck at Community Campus this year, and our traditional Grandparent's Day is in the process of being changed to an online event.  We apologize for all this but it is the way of schools today to keep people distanced as much as possible.  That said, we are also trying to figure out how to still run the yearly Halloween Parade (we simply cannot be without that!) so stay tuned.

  Imagination Library Keeps the Free Books FlowingUpon entering SCS every new student under the age of 5 is offered the opportunity to join our school reading initiative called Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.   Free, brand new, reading books arrive monthly to children - starting with the introductory book "The Little Engine That Could".  The book selections are refreshed each year but contain popular repeats and classics too.  If you are enrolled in SCS (or have non-SCS siblings under 5) and are not already signed up, you can get free reading books too.  Just contact Amie Cole in the main office at ACole@Seacoastcommunityschool.org.  The books are age appropriate, and intended to be read by parents to their kids.  The Portsmouth Elks have sponsored our free book program for the past few years!

Annual Seacoast Community School C.A.R.E.S. Theme "Empathy":  This year's school theme could not be more appropriate.  To us, Empathy means putting ourselves in other people's places and understanding their experiences.  It means recognizing that all people have feelings, hopes and good reasons for what they do and think.  It is an appreciation for diversity, and it is being patient, forgiving, and affirming of others because we feel for them.  It inspires us to be giving and unselfish.  All the teachers and classes will be working Empathy into their experiences and daily activities this year, so feel free to help us celebrate!
Fiona
 
Brightwheel Contacts Made Easy:  Are you looking to add family and friends to your Brightwheel account so they can join in the fun of seeing happy kids everyday?  As a fellow grandparent I know how important that can be!  Choosing the right permissions will allow folks the right access.  Below is a quick link to a helpful page showing what permissions parents can grant to Contacts.  Btw, Emergency Contacts can't get pictures or be Approved Pick-ups but family members can - so, if you want someone to have both those privileges you should enter them twice; once as a Family member and once as an Emergency Contact.

 
Jeyronell


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

That's Some Good Summer

Brightwheel Launches and Parents Love it: Who said it was crazy to launch an entire new computer application when we reopened in June (just about everybody) but now they are singing a new tune as we brought app-based school communications to SCS!  Parents have been really enjoying the "feed" function as it keeps them abreast of what is going on with their kids each day, and the finance capabilities have revolutionized life in the Business Office (imagine not handling all those paper checks!)  Want to learn more about the software?  Go to MyBrightwheel.com or click on the image below.
 

Brightwheel Contacts made easy:  Are you looking to add family and friends to your Brightwheel account so they can join in the fun of seeing happy kids everyday?  As a fellow grandparent I know how important that can be!  Choosing the right permissions will allow folks the right access.  Below is a quick link to a helpful page showing what permissions parents can grant to Contacts.  Btw, Emergency Contacts can't get pictures or be Approved Pick-ups but family members can - so, if you want someone to have both those privileges you should enter them twice; once as a Family member and once as an Emergency Contact.


Summer Fun at Community Campus

Kids and Teachers are Having a Great Time!

Summer PEAK and Summer ECE loving the outdoors:  Being outdoors all day is the best part of summer but being there with your classmates is extra fun.  With the PEAK Program taking place at the Community Campus this year we have been witnessing all the great moments our PEAK kids enjoy right from our own windows!  Not to be outdone the ECE Program has added extra time out in the wild 90+ acres of woodlands that surround us with outdoor classroom, sprinkler, and extended playground adventures happening regularly.  It is just wonderful to have the school back in session and watching everyone enjoying themselves!


PEAK Kids Enjoying the Campus


Annual Fund Closes in on Record Setting Goal!  Nobody.  Not nohow.  Nobody thought we could come anywhere near our fundraising goal of $75,000 this year - but we on the Development Committee secretly knew that the SCS Community had it in them!  Well, we are on the verge of reaching our RECORD SETTING Goal this year and you can still be part of it all!  Just click the link below to help make a great school even greater - but you have to do it NOW as the Annual Fund closes TODAY!

LINK: Donate TODAY!



Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Springtime Update


SCS "Show the Love" Parade Happening May 12thHow can you keep your children happy to see their teachers for real and "Show the Love"?  Bring your kids to the drive-by Teacher Parade at the Community Campus at 3:30pm on 5/12.  Every ECE class and PEAK site will be represented by a live teacher as you cruise your kids-in-cars along and enjoy the creative and decorative displays!  See you there!


Reopening Date Still Uncertain:  As we adhere to the guidance of Governor Sununu's Task Force for Reopening New Hampshire, our reopening date keeps getting pushed back. We are all anxiously awaiting for the time childcare centers can once again safely serve their families.  At this point we do not see SCS opening before June 1st, and our next target dates will be June 15th, or 29th.  Whatever happens, we will be in touch with you well before the official reopening date to guide you in new procedures, policies, and program adjustments.  We know this is a difficult situation for families, faculty, and everyone involved in our regular operations as a school; we want more than anything to have happy and healthy kids back in our care!


 Parent and Teacher Surveys Provide Good Data:  Thanks to everyone in our parent base as well as on the faculty for providing responses to our recent surveys.  It was clear from the results that some folks would like us reopening as soon as possible and some not until all is back to normal, but the majority want us to wait until the stars align for a safe and sensible reopening in accordance with government guidance.  Everyone was in agreement that there will be policy and procedural changes reflective of our need for a safe environment for all.  One of the most prevalent themes was that our community trusts that we are doing our best to make the right decisions, and we SO appreciate that support!


 Introducing "Brightwheel" Our New Administration Software!  As many of you know we have been looking to upgrade our computer software and systems to better serve parents, and to that end we have recently chosen a new platform for all our administrative tasks.  Originally set up as a pilot program back in March, we have decided to use the time we have available now to move the entire school to the new software.  All parents/guardians/teachers should look for an invitation email that instructs you to download the Brightwheel App, and register with the new system.  Everyone is REQUIRED to do this so please take a moment as soon as you receive the invitation.  The new software will allow a variety of payment methods, add new communication channels, and store lots of important data for kids and teachers.  The new systems will become active on the day we reopen!

 Summer PEAK Update:  Despite a number of other summer programs cancelling for the summer, as of this point we are trying to maintain our commitment to working families by running our Summer PEAK program for 5-12 year olds.  This year it will probably take place at the Community Campus (we do not have permission from the Public School as of yet for our usual site) and involve a more traditional (albeit viral-safe) approach to summer fun.  Our Program Director for Summer PEAK, Jamie Schaaf will be sending individual emails to all parents currently signed up giving more specifics including information on deposits, timelines, and highlights of the program.  

 

 SCS Annual Fund Provides Opportunities for Giving: Have you been looking for ways to help SCS during our shut-down?  Are you running a positive balance in your SCS Account?  Just contact Finance Manager Corrine Morse at CMorse@Seacoastcommunityschool.org and tell her that you would like to donate your balance.  Many families have already taken this opportunity to help us when we need it most and it has made a BIG difference in the fund!  Not a parent? You can donate directly at http://www.seacoastcommunityschool.org/support-us.  Keep your favorite teachers at your favorite school - give now!



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Midwinter fun at SCS!

Inside or outside it's fun time at SCSECE and PEAK Sites, infant and 10yr olds, Clownfish and Dragonflies classes, it is a fun time for everyone as we cross the mid-winter point in our school year.  Teachers have been bundling up and bringing kids outdoors on a regular basis, and enjoying indoor playspaces as well.  Events on the horizon include SCS Board Visiting Day 2/5&6, and Kindergarten Information Night 2/6 at 4:30-5:30.

 Artist in Residence to Provide Music in all ECE Classrooms this Spring!  Local musician and teacher Philip Kliger will provide music classes once each week for all children at the Community Campus for 10 weeks this Spring in their classrooms.  Renown for working with kids of all ages, Phil loves the idea of teaching to even the youngest when it comes to introducing music, instruments, rhythms, beats, sounds, and songs.   



The Meadows Preschool celebrates one year!  Yes, it has been one full year since we opened our satellite preschool at Gosling Meadows and what a year it has been!  We started with 8 children and the class quickly grew to 12.  We then "graduated" 5 children off to Kindergarten and the whole group is doing very well in their respective schools.  A new crop of great kids is now enrolled and having a wonderful time getting ready for their own transition to public school.  Thanks again to everyone, especially the entire staff at the Portsmouth Housing Authority, for making this happen.  PS: We are building a new outdoor classroom for Meadows students in May and will be looking for volunteers - contact Sarah Fleck if you want to help at SFleck@Seacoastcommunityschool.org. 

Save the Date for Sunset 2020!  Our annual gala event is shaping up to be super special and we hope you will be there!  Mark your calendars now because SATURDAY APRIL 18TH IS THE DATE!  So join us for fun, laughter, and prizes of all sorts as we get our entire parent community together to celebrate all that we do here at SCS!  Just ask anyone who has attended in the past, it's the premier social event of the season!  Don't miss it!


 Important:  Summer PEAK Sign-ups:  Signing up for Summer PEAK has never been easier, and as we roll out the online registration this year, you can still choose the days you want for our summer session.  Current families signup opens on March 2nd, wait list families on March 9th, and the general public on March 16th.  More information is on the way.  A deposit will be due upon registration, and the full summer bill will be due April 6th.  Can't pay in April?  Payment schedules are available by contacting Corrine Morse in the Business Office x126.

Thanks for Helping Us Make our Half Year Goal!  Wow!  We made our half-way goal of $25,000 in early January and we wanted to thank EVERYONE who helped it happen!  Now on to the main goal of $75,000 by June 30th.  Contributions to the Annual Fund help the school at all levels from field trips and presenters in PEAK Programs to diapers and wipes in the infant class.  Your gift can REALLY help us make a difference in the lives of these children so give now!

DONATE NOW:  http://www.seacoastcommunityschool.org/support-us



Friday, December 20, 2019

Happy Holidays from Seacoast Community School!

Events, Events, Events! The holiday season is usually filled with wonderful events at SCS and this year has been no exception!  The TurkeyTrot Roadrace successfully raised over $10,000 for the school as 1800 runners braved the cold on Thanksgiving morning, and the Portsmouth Holiday Parade resulted in our parade walkers handing out over 2000 cocoa packets to all the good little boys and girls of Portsmouth.  Special thanks go out to the many volunteers who helped out with these initiatives.

Santa Makes a Surprise Visit to The Meadows Preschool: The Jolly Old Elf himself showed up to join the Dragonflies and their families at a special holiday celebration this past week at the Meadows.  Kids participated in Gingerbread House Making and other fun activities before the big moment when gifts (books) were handed out to each little one in attendance.  Certainly a cheerful time was had by all!   

ECE Spirit Week is a huge success:  With every day a different theme, SCS Holiday Spirit Week helped ring in happy times for everyone involved.  Monday was Holiday Colors Day, Tuesday Whoville Hair Day, Wednesday Class Choice, Thursday Dress Like a Reindeer Day, and of course Friday was Holiday Pajama Day.  The competition for "Most Spirited" class was tight but ultimately the Sea Otters proved to be the most spirited group for the week. Congrats to everyone for lifting the spirit at SCS to new heights!
Whoville Hair
Help Us Make our Half Year Goal!  Trying to make our Annual Fund goal of $25,000 by January 1st may seem like a stretch but we are close!  Please help us by donating to SCS any amount you can during this joyous season of giving.  Contributions help the school at all levels from field trips and presenters in PEAK Programs to diapers and wipes in the infant class.  Your gift can REALLY help us make a difference in the lives of these children!

DONATE NOW:  http://www.seacoastcommunityschool.org/support-us

Happy Holidays Everyone!