Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Administrative Changes

 

Administrative Changes

"Leadership is an action, not a position." -Donald McGannon



Sarah Fleck 

Director of Development and Family Services 


Here is an administrator that brings joy to the hallways of our school. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her work is visible to all that cross her path. In fact, Sarah's journey at SCS started because of her love to connect families and the community in education, while her daughter was in an early childhood program. With a background in Business Management and operational auditing, she surprised herself in finding a new passion-early childhood administration. What started as volunteering her time to improve the school, became a position at SCS, as the Development and Marketing Coordinator.  When an opening for a Family Services Director came along, it was not difficult to recognize that Sarah's genuine compassion towards families was all the reason needed to promote her to the Director of Development and Family Services. 


In her new role, she is looking forward to meshing her previous role of marketing and community outreach, with the family service goals of finding the resources and providing solutions for all children to be able to attend our program. Sarah was sharing with me just the other day that her new role has really opened her mind to "all the hoops that they [families] have to jump through...the sacrifices that they have to make to get their child into early education". Now, as Sarah continues to work on development for the school, she can tell people about the work that she is actually doing and what is genuinely needed to welcome all children at Seacoast Community School. She believes that families should not have to face so many barriers for a quality education.  Lastly she stated, "Their [families] dedication to giving their child quality education fuels me to work harder, to fight harder for them." We are already excited to meet the families that will benefit from her compassion and empathy. 




Jess Dubois

PEAK Program Director

I am sure that many parents have had the opportunity to meet our new PEAK Program Director over the last couple months. Jess has taken on her knew role with vigor, bringing fresh ideas and steadfast leadership to our PEAK program. Jess believes that "Education and the field of child care is a constant groundbreaking field. We are a group of professionals that focus on molding the future by bringing all the innovative practices of development and curriculum to an ever changing population." One of her missions upon joining SCS, was to take time to listen to the needs of teachers and families, believing that standing with her teachers and providing support for them is crucial.  Whether building relationships with teachers or our families, her nothing-is-impossible approach makes way for visionary thinking. Her commitment to bringing us all together, molding the children of our future, will bring not only positive change, but make the PEAK program one of the greatest after school programs in the Seacoast.  



Beccy Daly

Assistant Early Childhood Program Director 

This woman has done it all. With 17 years of early childhood education, Beccy has had all the roles of the industry, even running her very own family based early education program. However, she feels that it is here at SCS that she has found a place that is a home away from home. For the past nine years, Beccy has had the same goal every day. "As a teacher of young children it is my job to make a positive impact in their day to day experiences at SCS. My job is to love, nurture, and help them grow strong in body and mind...To learn independence, self worth, trust, friendship. It is my duty to do this through play, and without realizing it, the children are learning." As Beccy is promoted to being the Assistant Director to the Early Childhood Program, we are all sure to benefit from her passion and integrity here at SCS. Ultimately, Beccy is excited to share her love and knowledge of the classroom, as well as share the values and philosophies of SCS. She is excited to build these relationships with all of the SCS community from the staff, to the parents to extended members of the community.  With her extensive knowledge of our SCS culture, involving meeting NAEYC standards, and knowledge of NH State Licensing she will provide needed support to our teachers, the administrative team and be able to offer guidance to families on best ECE practices.




Jamie Winn

Admissions Coordinator

SCS is proud to announce the promotion of one of our Lead teachers, Jamie. As the new Admissions Coordinator, Jamie is sure to bring her skills of patience, organization, and kindness to the administrative team. Jamie looks forward to using her role to support teachers and families in the admissions process. She values the importance of communication, and is looking forward to working with the staff and families for a successful and meaningful transition of children into a classroom. Jamie started working in early childhood back in high school, and has since found her niche in the infant room. She believes that her role as a teacher will be vital in her second position here, and comments that "she loves that her experience is a great resource to parents". With over ten years here at SCS, Jamie is a constant and dependable teacher for all families and staff; we look forward to her new role in this school and know it will make a lasting impact on our community. 





Peter Gilmore

Congratulations on Retirement 

It is with a  bittersweet heart that I am writing to tell you that our Executive Director, Peter Gilmore is going to be retiring at the start of January in the New Year. Peter's leadership and guidance for our school is going to be greatly missed. As a teacher I have been witness to his efforts to get to know each and every single child and their family at SCS. He has worked tirelessly to build relationships in the community that continues to build this school into the best early education program on the Seacoast. He worked for all the voices of the school, from the child, to the teacher, to the parent, to the extended family. Peter has no doubt left an ever-lasting impact on all who worked with him. Here at SCS, his direction and vision brought us into a new position, providing a light for the early childhood industry to aspire to. Over the next few weeks, we all will have to take some time to celebrate his next chapter of life. At SCS, we are excited to recognize Peter for all his leadership and guidance and congratulate him on his retirement. We can't thank him enough for his gift of leadership at our school. 




Thursday, November 4, 2021

October 2021

 

I Blog For You

I am sitting on the edge of my seat as I write this short introduction, because I am excited for our journey ahead! I have been given a fun and exciting opportunity to share the upcoming news of Seacoast Community School with you-and I couldn't be more thrilled! This will be a journey, an epic journey, because it is going to be my job to give you front row tickets into our school.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Destiny and I am part of the preschool team teaching the Sea Turtles. I have two passions-teaching and writing. As an educator I firmly believe in helping children find their voices; becoming independent, confident, beings that believe in themselves, work towards kindness and reach for their dreams. As your new blogger I get to share all these teachable moments, school announcements, celebrate the staff here, and even promote learning opportunities for the community. We get to discuss the impact early childhood education has on children, their families and the community. So please, after reading a blog post, ask questions, make comments, or simply share them with your friends and family. Seacoast Community School is honored to have this avenue to promote discussion, ideas, change and fellowship for our early education community. Are you ready? I am!


Spooktacular Reflections

Halloween is a special time for young kids and at SCS, we love helping them celebrate it!  The Preschool team came together to bring some joy and excitement to our families this holiday, and had the children decorate the hallway to show their "spirits".  We miss having families see what we are are doing every day in the classroom, so this was a small way to bring the lessons out and beyond!

 
 
Here at Seacoast Community School, we firmly believe in the process over the product. We hope that while looking through the Haunted Hallway parents could see and feel the fun that the children had this past month. The Clownfish were proud to bring a favorite fall song forward with their artwork of The Five Little Pumpkins. In the Sea Turtles, close attention to imagination and learning through literature was prevalent in their art pieces. The Sea Otters and Stingrays took the time to really work on their fine motor development and following directions.  The process behind a project develops basic skills, such as cutting and gluing. Art can also promote spatial awareness. Working on a multi-step project helps children work on their focus, direction following, and problem solving.  

Haunted Doorway Voting

Parents and visitors had the opportunity to vote on their favorite door decorations. This was such an exciting opportunity for all families to enjoy. Children just loved it, and voting each day during the week was common!

Check out the math the Preschool team enjoyed by making their graph of the data gathered. By using graphing, teachers promote math concepts beyond counting, such as more than, less than, and equal to.  We hope the Haunted Hallway decor brought smiles and joy to every family!



Rainbow Fish Share Live Discoveries

In the Rainbow Fish toddler classroom, the children were showing great interest studying farm life! When it comes to curiosity and finding answers, SCS loves to help children investigate, so it was an easy decision for the Rainbow Fish to decide they were going to hatch chickens in the classroom! Within the week, the class had eggs in an incubator, and the lesson on chickens was underway! 21 days of observations, discussion and care for these little eggs captivated each of the children. Upon arrival of 7 baby chicks to the classroom, they were excited and eager to share their experiences with the whole school.



Food Drive to Help GATHER Food Bank Launches

Gather has an incredible mission, "Ending Hunger in our Community".  Seacoast Community School is proud to support this organization, which provides healthy and nutritious meals to those in need. Gather is a non-profit organization that has been serving the Greater Seacoast, with it's hunger-ending roots, as far back as 1816! Please help us with our food drive this November for Gather!  Donations can be dropped off with your teacher or the main office. Thank you so much for your help, and for more information on Gather please check them out at https://www.gathernh.org/. 


 
We hope everyone has a wonderful fall and are just excited
as we are for the upcoming holidays!

Friday, August 20, 2021

Dear SCS Community,

As I have at other times during the pandemic, I wanted to take a moment to update everyone on our status as a school.  I know that all educational institutions are under stress this year as we plan for the school year ahead, but our population has its special challenges.  The children in our care are entirely unvaccinated and we therefore take special precautions to keep everyone safe.  Fortunately we live in an area of the country where vaccinations are high and community spread is low, but we do not feel this is the time to completely let down our guard.  We recognize that the Delta Variant is real, and could affect our ability to live our mission and offer our critically important services.

 

The systems and policies that have worked for us throughout the year are still at our disposal and although we are not following all of them, we can reintroduce them at a moment’s notice.  We continue to mask all faculty indoors, keep classes separated as we should, are careful about adults entering the building, continue to take the children’s temperatures on a regular basis, wash hands frequently, and get classes outside as much as possible.

 

At the beginning of the summer we loosened a number of policies too.  We moved screening to the classroom doors within the building, instituted parent check-in on phones, removed the mask mandates outside for teachers, and allowed combining of classes in certain settings and at certain times.  We also allow parents (masked) into the building so the ritual of walking the kids through the school to their teachers has returned.  All in all we have had no cases amongst children and very few among faculty. 

 

In this atmosphere the summer has been entirely enjoyable for all involved.  The school-age Summer PEAK classes have been in session at Little Harbour School, and the children at the Community Campus have also loved their play outside.  Faculty and administrators have found time for vacation days during July and August, and everyone is looking forward to new classes and new children in September.  Our oldest students will be moving on to Middle School and our 5yr olds will be entering Kindergarten in the weeks ahead.

 

Our greatest struggle has been finding new teachers, but it has not been for lack of trying!  Many industries are suffering to hire workers and education is no exception.  Fortunately there are representatives, activists, and lobbyists working hard to encourage the State of New Hampshire to help improve our workforce overall. You can help by making direct referrals of teachers to us in either our Early Childhood or PEAK programs, (PEAK teachers can be hired at age 16 and start at $15/hr for after school work), and contacting your legislative representatives to underscore the current crisis.

 

Thank you for continuing to believe in us through this difficult time.  Special thanks goes out to those parents, Board members, grandparents, foundations, and friends who contributed to our school in our times of greatest need.  We expect in due course for the pandemic situation to resolve, but in the meantime, we will do everything we can to keep our school going strong.  Keeping all our children and faculty safe is still our primary goal, and we are confident that we can continue to achieve that.

 

Regards,

Peter B. Gilmore

Executive Director

 

Referrals:

Early Childhood: Alicia Tonelli 603-422-8223 x116

After School PEAK: Jess DuBois 603-422-8223 x117

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

 

 

SCS Day of Giving is this Thursday 5/27!

Everything is ready for our ONE BIG DAY of giving to Seacoast Community School in 2021 and you can be a part of it!  Each year our Annual Fund drive is used to support important parts of the SCS experience for every child and this year is no different.  What is different is that we are working with a website called "GiveCampus" and offering a single huge day to help make our goal!  On Thursday we will strive to get 100 donors in one day and target these gifts specifically for scholarships (which are always funded by the Annual Fund).  YOU CAN DO YOUR PART by clicking the link below to access the special donation portal.  The video on the giving page is SO GOOD you just have to see it!

LINK: https://www.givecampus.com/gzac0f

PLEASE HELP us reach our goal of 100 donors!  There are special "challenge gifts" offered by donors if we reach the 25, 50, 75, and 100 milestones so we need everyone to help with any level of gift.  SCS is a 501c3 nonprofit so every gift is tax deductible if you choose to claim it on your taxes.

Jamie Schaaf is On To Other Adventures

In the category of "all good things must come to an end", after twenty years of teaching, guiding, and overseeing children in our regular and summer PEAK Programs, Jamie Schaaf has decided to take a break and seek out new adventures elsewhere.  Jamie has been a mainstay of PEAK for such a long time that most folks can't imagine the program without him.  His creativity, kindness, vision, and care will be sorely missed.  He will be taking time off this summer, doing some adventuring, before setting new sites in the fall.  If you would like to congratulate or thank Jamie, he can be reached at: jayclimber9@gmail.com

SCS Reaches $15min Wage!

The Board's Strategic Plan formed with the help of the entire SCS Community three years ago called for examining the possibility of raising all teachers wages to reflect a target $15min wage.  Well, with a lot of help from the Finance Committee, the Business Office, and some timely grants/loans that goal has been reached two years ahead of schedule!  The pandemic has revealed that child care and after school care are critical to our entire economy and paying good wages to people who love to work with children is the key to making that happen.  With the entire wage scale shifted upward, now SCS teachers at every level can enjoy full benefits, free support for degree work, a great school atmosphere, and a healthy living wage.  Do you know someone who would benefit from our wonderful school and like to pursue a career in Early Childhood education?  Please contact Program Director
Alicia Tonelli at: Atonelli@Seacoastcommunityschool.org

 


Summer PEAK Ready to Roll!

Our annual summer program is all set to go with over 60 children enrolled to enjoy the pleasures of the summer season!  Located at Little Harbour School in Portsmouth the program will feature lots of outdoor activities, field trips, and visits by special guests all within a safe, COVID conscious atmosphere.  This year our program will be run by Miriam Morse and we are all looking forward to her special touch adding to the fun atmosphere!

 

Friday, March 19, 2021

 

Dear SCS Community,

I am writing this month in lieu of a traditional blogpost to update everyone on the status of our school after a year of dealing with the COVID19 Pandemic.  It was back in March of 2020 that our entire world at SCS was upended by the State of New Hampshire closing all schools due to the emerging pandemic.  Classes in our Early Childhood and After School Programs were shuttered with no known date of return.  At that moment we made the unique decision amongst our peer schools to continue to pay all faculty salaries in full and support all healthcare benefits, despite no assurances from the government that we would receive any help, and no plans to charge tuitions to our parents for the time they were home with their children.  It was a truly precarious moment and in my forty years in education I had never experienced anything like it.

 

During that time our community really stepped up and showed their mettle.  Teachers reached out to parents regularly with activities and online class meetings using a new technology called “Zoom” which we all learned on the fly.  Administrators continued to work from home every day and secured government loans, attended Health Department webinars, and eagerly awaited the latest news and directives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Our Board of Directors truly stepped up and met weekly to keep us afloat and moving forward.  Many parents contributed emergency funds freely to the school in our time of need (some continued to submit weekly childcare payments despite kids being home) and although we had been losing over $11,000 per week, kept the red ink from overwhelming us.  Hard work, smart advice from the Board, and a hearty New England commitment to survival pulled us through.

 

In June we reopened and about 60% of our families returned immediately.  Others were allowed to keep their children enrolled but at home without paying tuition until September.  We immediately instituted strict safety measures which included training the faculty on the new way we needed to run the school - masked and distanced.  We kept the communication with families steady and often included stakeholder surveys in our decision making processes.  By that fall over 90% of the Early Childhood families and 95% of the faculty, had returned to school.

 

The PEAK after school programs however were at the whim of the Portsmouth and Greenland Public Schools which had closed too, and our numbers dropped precipitously.  Entirely new schedules required that we create a daily morning program to teach classes and help serve parents.  Run at the Community Campus with the wonderful support of the Foundation for Seacoast Health, we kept each elementary school separated, and every child and faculty member safe.

 

Our sterling record of daily classes with no COVID19 lasted until December, when we finally had a positive case.  The long winter included a seemingly endless number of potential exposures to the virus with subsequent quarantines of faculty, parents, and children, but in the end only a handful of folks actually contracted it, and there was no general outbreak in any class.  This was in large part due to our vigilant adherence to following the rules and guidelines of the New Hampshire DHHS, the CDC in Atlanta, and of course Dr. Fauci himself!  Our good relationship with the Public Schools in Portsmouth allowed over 90% of our faculty and staff to be administered the first dose of the vaccine last weekend, and our move back toward normalcy took a giant step.  Everyone is looking forward to the time we can actually run like a normal school again.

 

Perhaps the most amazing part of our journey over the past year has been the experience of the children themselves.  Although some wore masks, most experienced every day in the classrooms just as normal, and without the drumbeat of the pandemic in the background.  Friends met every day, children explored new things, they laughed and played, and everyone learned to get along just as always.  SCS was a safe haven for every child in every class, and that was exactly what we strove to achieve.

 

My sincere thanks goes out to everyone who supported us over the past year - we really needed it!  We know that we are not fully out of the pandemic yet, but the light is on the horizon.  Special thanks to everyone who helped us reach our fundraising goals last year, and we sincerely hope you will help us again.  The altruism of our community, the resolve of our administration, the trust of our parents, the advice of our Board, and the sincere dedication of our faculty all combined to make it a year to remember. 

 

All the best,

Peter Gilmore

Executive Director

Seacoast Community School

PGilmore@Seacoastcommunityschool

 

Online Donations: http://seacoastcommunityschool.org/support-us

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!