Friday, March 30, 2012

Staff Spotlight: The Great and Powerful May!

Since 2006, May has been a staple of The Little School. Through her years at TLS she has worked with infants to Pre-K, and everything in between. She exemplifies JOY in everything she does. She teaches those around her to embrace the fun and the ridiculous in everything she does. See a log? Paint it! Mud? Squish in it! Tree? Hug it! For the record, I have personally seen her do all of these things. An artist to the core, she is one part the vision of Georgia O’Keeffe and one part the strength of Paul Bunyan (except when she gets a splinter, then she’s more Blanche DuBois). For the past six years, she has been lovin’ all over your kids, and I have yet to meet a kiddo  that doesn’t love her back. This fall she will head off to college full-time where she will study Occupational Therapy. With a degree in hand, she will set off spreading the amazingness of May. While we will miss her dearly, we are excited to share her with the rest of the world.

* How did you find your way to TLS?
I knew Ms. Christa during high school, and we stayed in touch through the years. During a visit to Carolina, I went to see Christa and her new preschool.  After I visited and toured TLS, I chose to move back to North Carolina and apply to The Little School. At 19 years of age, I started as a full time substitute, and have been a full time teacher ever since.  

* What was the most interesting trip you have taken?
A passion of mine is traveling. Growing up, my family vacationed frequently. As young adults my parents took my brother and I to India and that’s when I got the bug for travel. My most interesting trip was the first trip I planned and paid for myself. I spent four months traveling around Europe with a backpack, a train pass, and my best friend. We explored 19 countries, and I learned more during those few months than any other time in my life.  I’m planning on dragging my awesome husband on a similar trip one day.

* If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Christopher Walken.

 *If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?
I think living inside Mark Twain's head would be pretty awesome.

* Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
Joyful simpleton! Enjoying the simple things are what’s important. I am most happy sitting in the “Quietude” of nature.

* If you were an animal, what would you be? Why?
I would be an alligator. Alligators have the most beautiful life I’ve ever come across. I would do anything to spend my days sunbathing, eating, sleeping, and enjoying the peace. Not to mention live in some of the most beautiful places on the planet. 

 * What is your happiest childhood memory/what makes it so special?
I have memories of being picked up at preschool. I remember running as fast I could towards my father and watching all the towering adults part like the red sea so I could be scooped and thrown into the air by my dad’s massive hands. This was a “routine pick-up” for me. The sensation of flight is what has stuck with me.  I have a lot of memories from childhood that I hold onto. Another memory was a trip my brother, father, and I took to The Okefanokee Swamp. I remember sitting on the front of the motor boat with my brother while my father drove in figure eights until we both fell into the water. We were raised to understand our own personal limits and to test those limits any chance we could. There are so many great memories, and I’m grateful to not have only one answer to that question.

* What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
Dress like Lady Gaga. 

* What did you want to be when you were 12 years old?  

*What would you listen to if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life?
“The Weight” by The Band.

* What's your favorite tree or What is your favorite flower?
My favorite tree and flower is a Dogwood. My guess why is due to growing up in Atlanta where the streets are lined with them. I remember seeking them out and studying every flower in reach. My first really great paintings were of Dogwood branches, I would call it an obsession.

* If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be?
I would be a Fiddler in an old time string band, or own an art gallery.

* What words do you live by?

* What do you value most or hold most dear at TLS?
I value the opportunity to create relationships with the children. It’s been wonderful to hold strong bonds with Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. These relationships have all blossomed into an experience of a lifetime for me. I will treasure my time at The Little School forever.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Community Super Stars

Photo By Alex Caterson
What is a community? Webster’s dictionary gives us 12 different definitions of the word, and they are all entirely too boring to repost: a common denominator, a link, a society. I would argue that our community defines US as much as we define IT. It is also one of the core tenets found in Reggio programming. Our school is only as strong as our community. Don’t get me wrong- we have stellar teachers, awesome curriculum, and some of the sweetest kids around. But what really makes a strong program is the links between all three of these. The bond between the kids and the teachers is reinforced every day, but the parents and teachers are allowed just a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day to connect. Special events where the parents, kids and teachers all interact allow the children to see two very important parts of their world work together. It builds a sense of pride and ownership for the kids, and allows parents to see their children interact on a different level with their peers. It’s like a little window into your kids “other” life. Plus, it’s super fun.

Our teachers strive to create these community building opportunities.The Busy Bodies class (aka Mary Beth, Laura H, and Tina) is an awesome example of this. Recently the teachers volunteered their Saturday and arranged a giant play date with the class. I asked her to share the day with us. Chris, aka Sevi’s Dad offered these great photos of the day.

Photo By Alex Caterson
“On Saturday, March 3rd the Busy Bodies took a trip to the Durham Museum of Life and Science.  We had eleven friends and their families join us on a great Saturday morning to explore the museum.  We have been exploring Dinosaurs in February and have continued to explore butterflies after the trip.  Our first stop was the Farmyard where we observed the sheep, goats and pigs.  We LOVED the climbing on the HUGE dinosaur, roaring down the Dinosaur Trail, and trying to catch butterflies in the Magic Wings Butterfly house the most.  We were also amazed by all the insects in the Insectarium and greeted them with wide eyes and curiosity.  We dug for fossils and found lots of great treasures like shark teeth!  We celebrated a friends birthday and ended the day on a great note in Loblolly park.   It was a great visit and we enjoyed exploring the museum together with our friends and families!”--- Mary Beth

The Little School will be holding its annual community garden day Saturday April 21st. Our Parent Involvement Group has been hard at work planning a fun day where we can all pitch in, beautify our kids space, and soak in our TLS community while we’re at it. We hope you and your whole family can make it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's going on at school this week?

Gardening has begun in earnest around the school. You can find projects blooming inside and out. Here Fleury helps dig out trenches for the onion patch.

The Itsy Bitsy spiders studied round things this week. To fit with that theme, the kids all painted old vinyl records. Though my 10 year old self shuddered at the fate of this Belinda Carlisle album,  Ali explored the texture of the paint on her fingers, and yes, her mouth.

Crystal's class savors the amazing weather with a long walk. 
Lesley's class got into the St. Patties spirit with these nifty rainbow mobiles. 

Diana and Davian's class examined castles this week. Cutting out the crown pattern helps strengthen fine motor and early writing skills. Plus, they look really cool. 

March Madness has made it's way to The Little School! What a great way to practice turn taking, gross motor skills, and and team building. 
Ms. Joy's kids soaked up the spring weather on the playground.  

In the Pre-K room, the kids spent the week exploring wind. The kids all collected and made a hypothesis as to what would blow away in the wind. Here Eleanor delights in the results. 

The Mighty Me's took a virtual trip to Ireland this week in honor of St. Patrick's day. Since they could not kiss the Blarney Stone in person, they made these great stand ins instead. If the original doesn't have sparkles. then they really should look into it.  Mischievous leprechaun's visited the classroom on Friday, leaving behind a big mess of fun to clean up!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dr. Seuss-palooza!

Ms. Heather up and away!
The Little School celebrated it’s second Dr. Seuss Day. Each class asked its parent Ambassador to help organize the fun for the room and each class celebrated in their own style. As I looked over the sea of Thing 1’s and Cat’s in Hats, I imagined what my one year old daughter must be thinking: “Is Dr. Seuss Day the time when everyone around me goes technicolor crazy”? It was amazing. This much I can say for us: we did it in STYLE. From the costumes to the activities, we rocked it. I asked a few of our fabulous parent ambassadors to give us the scoop on their room.

From Victoria in the ½ day room:  
Ms. Lesley’s half day class had a wonderful time getting into the Seuss spirit all week to celebrate Read Across America Day and the birthday of the beloved Dr. Seuss.  They began the week on Monday with a reading of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish by Andrew Slawter (Julie and Drew’s dad), complemented by an art project of making red and blue fish out of different shapes and a fun and colorful goldfish cracker snack served out of a fish bowl.  What a huge hit!

On Wednesday, Jennifer Kusnyer (Annabel and Lilly’s mom) came to class to read Green Eggs and Ham.  The kids embraced the color green by finding all of the green art materials in the classroom and making collages out of them. The children also enjoyed a green inspired snack, including cucumbers, which were all gobbled up. Thanks Dr. Seuss for helping our little ones eat their veggies!
Half Day Cats in Hats

The class ended the week on Friday with an all time favorite, The Cat in the Hat, brought to life by the fabulous French accent of Jean-Francois Provost (Julian and Wope’s dad).  The children and teachers all came to school dressed in red, white, and black and made red and white striped hats to wear as they listened to the story.  Ms. Kelly even came with her face painted like a cat, which everyone enjoyed immensely.

Finally, throughout the week the children made a "truffula tree" inspired by The Lorax, which the class also read. Come and check it out if you haven't already!  It was a fantastic and memorable week.  Thank you to Ms. Lesley, Ms. Kelly, Ms. Meg and the parents for making the celebration of reading and Dr. Seuss such a success!

Sonya Planting Truffula Trees
From Sonya in the Mighty Me’s
The Mighty Me’s spoke for the trees during a week-long unit on the Lorax for Dr. Seuss week. The teachers planned great crafts and taught the 3-year-olds about recycling, composting and other ways to take care of the planet. The Mighty Parents also lent a hand; Adam Buchanan, Anne Fairchild, Helen Cheek, Marc Hawley and Clyde Buchanan all volunteered to read to the class throughout the week. Other parents donated recycled containers to hold our very own Truffula trees (or as close as we could find at the local hardware store, which means they’re actually dahlias and bachelor’s buttons).

My oldest daughter (who is a proud TLS alum) helped select the Truffula seeds and was so excited to help the Mighty Me’s with the planting project.  The kids each selected a recycled container for their trees and were ready to plant.  A few really stocked up on the seeds and others were very careful to place their seeds in exactly the spots they wanted. The whole project went really quickly (that’s what happens when 3-year-olds get excited) and was done in about 15 minutes. The “trees” have already sprouted and we can’t wait to see the blooms. It was a really fun way to spend time with the kids and learn about the amazing lessons in Lorax. Thanks to all the families who contributed to the week’s activities!

Amanda and son Darwin
From Nicole Hill in the Yellow Ducks:
What a day!  What a day!
This much I can say.

Amazing hair up so high
and silly outfits fly by.

Today's menu calls
Yertle the Turtle Eggs with truffula balls.
It is a celebration day for ol' Dr. Seuss,
Here at the Little School- his spirit is on the loose.

Parents came in and read to us all
red foot, blue foot prints on the wall.

A wacky day it was so much fun
Thanks you to all who helped get it done.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Coffee Love

The Little School has partnered with Joe Van Gogh to supply TLS coffee as part of a fundraising effort. The sales for all the coffee will go directly towards our scholarship fund. The scholarship fund will be used to subsidize costs to Orange County families who are currently enrolled and are already receiving help from the County. The coffee for sale will be a blend specially roasted for The Little School. The  ½ pound bags are a mixture of whole bean and ground coffee sold for $10. 

$5 from every sale will go directly to the scholarship fund.

This is a trial run so there are only 25 bags available. Depending on how well it goes the coffee may be offered for sale on a regular basis. So please support The Little School family by purchasing your own bag of The Little School of Hillsborough Blend coffee. Look for it out front for sale this Thursday. 

Thank you to parent volunteer Charlie Porter for helping put this together.

 Nothing Without Joy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Best Of TLS!

Last year TLS was thrilled and honored to be recognized by Indy readers as the Best Childcare in the Triangle. It is that time of the year to vote again, and we would love another shout out! We can sit here and tell you all the reasons and ways we think we are amazing, but we thought we would put the question to the our children instead.

I can’t tell you how fun this was to put together. As I traveled from room to room (or playground to playground), I witnessed gleeful kids and eager teachers willing to share some of their fun with me. Their answers were sometimes goofy, sometimes very serious, and often strangely specific! Their answers speak of everything we hope to be at TLS: JOYFUL, surrounded by friendships and love, covered with paint and dirt, and of course, least we forget, bread.
Here is what they said:

What do you like to do at The Little School?
“I like to find stuff in the woods” Joshua 4
“I like to make paper airplanes and fly them. Kites too.” John 5
“I like to play outside with Megan” Wylie 3
“I play with my stick” Sebastian 2
“I like to play....(pointing) there. “ Lilly 2
“I like to go in dress-up” Carson 4
“I like to ride my bike” Jacob 3
“I play with animals in the train” Porter 2
“I like to paint a picture” Ali 4

“I like to write my letters for Mommy and Daddy” Colin 4
“Play with my toys... firetruck!” Diego 3
“I like to cut pictures from magazines” Chloe 5
“I like to make pictures.... happy faces.” Lila 4
“Eat bread” Sarah 2
“I like to go to the magic tree” Ian 4
“I like to paint stars and flowers” Faye 3
“Circle-time!” Terra 3
“I like to play ‘sisters’ with Una” Katy Bryn 5
“Dancing” Elisa 2
“Heee heeee heee!” Vidya 4
“I do somersaults” Chloe 3
“Make stuff” Xander 5 

And lastly, our real life “Calvin and Hobbes” tells us (sung with drum percussion):
“I love The Little School because I love my teachers, because they take care of me like my Mommy does. The Little School is made out of bread!” Max 3

If you would like to vote for us in the Indy, here is the link: