And the Terri Lynne Lokoff/Children’s Tylenol National Child Care Teacher Award Goes To…

Miss Latressa Miles!!!!!!

Each year the Terri Lynne Lokoff Foundation recognizes 50 child care teachers across the United States who provide quality in early childhood education. This year one of our own is being recognized for her amazingness! Ms. Tressa is so very deserving of this award and recognition and we could not be more excited for her. In the words of one parent:

“I am honored to write this letter in support of Ms. Latressa Miles, a teacher at the school my son has attended for close to three years; he is going on his second year in Ms. Miles’ class.

It is hard to quantify the impact she has had on my son as a student.  As a family we decided to keep him at the Child Development Cooperative an additional year rather than to send him on to a  free public Pre-k.  There was little doubt in our minds that another year with “Ms. Tressa,” would the best thing we could do for his long term educational prospects. We couldn’t have asked for a better educational partnership in this critical phase of his development than we have had with Ms. Latressa Miles.  

Ms. Tressa opening her award letter.

Ms. Tressa opening her award letter.

 

There are many ways in which Ms.Tressa has enriched my son’s education.  More than learning letters, numbers and days of the week, which he has, Ms. Miles has fostered in him a boundless curiosity and love for learning that makes the skill acquisition part a piece of cake.  He is truly excited about science and experimentation which the students do in Ms. Tressa’s class in small and big ways all day long.    When he masters new tasks or skills at home he will often say, “I can’t wait to show/tell Ms. Tressa.”  I know that is because she will be genuinely interested and proud for his accomplishment and will encourage him towards the next achievement.

The Child Development Cooperative uses an “emergent curriculum,” that allows for a lot of freedom in decision making and evolution of process for students within certain parameters including safety and mutual respect. It requires a teacher to really be in tune with each individual student’s needs and interests, as well as skill level and ability. On any given day one may be focusing on fine motor skills while another is interested in words, or math or robots and explosions. I have watched her in action, Ms. Tressa does an amazing job of engaging each child and helping them find their individual paths through a project or task in a way that allows each to gain mastery or a sense of accomplishment in their own way.   

All the parents have a deep respect and appreciation for her, and it is obvious all the children love her.  She is an incredible teacher and remarkable individual that is well deserving of any award or recognition available to someone in her profession.”

We could not have said it any better ourselves! In addition to simply being recognized for her wonderful work with the children in her care, she receives an all-expense paid trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to receive the award along with $500.00 to be used for a project that will benefit her classroom. Get ready parents! We are building a fence to expand the classroom learning environment to include the outdoors!

For those families currently enrolled, you now have even more bragging rights! Ms. Tressa is the FIRST recipient from South Louisiana to win such an award and your child gets to go to the center where she feels most at home! Please help us congratulate Ms. Tressa and spread the word!

From Dream to Reality and What Comes In Between

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Our beautiful new play hive

My last post was a plea for a play hive for our Co-op Kids. I’m happy to report that it has become a reality! This dream of ours began with an invitation to join a secret Facebook group of like-minded, play-based educators where we share what’s happening in our programs through photos and discussions. I saw the most wonderful play hive, asked questions of others who have built one for their school, and decided that we must have one! Every year in the spring we have a Spring Clean and Crawfish Boil. This is a Saturday when all our enrolled families come to the Co-op and lend a hand with yard maintenance (we have two live oak trees and oh, the leaves!), painting, cleaning, and power washing. We usually build something too. Our parents have built us a pergola and turned a defunct outdoor sensory station into a very useful “tree house” in recent years, so we knew that they would be up for building the play hive. So, we have the man power. Next came the inevitable question, “How can we afford it?” The answer? A fundraiser of course but not just any fundraiser would do. We decided to “sell boards”. We would accept donations for the lumber to build said hive and for every family who donated money, we would burn their family name into the hive. Our wonderful families were generous with their donations and within a few weeks we had enough to purchase all the supplies! The weekend before the big day, our very own Thomas Gresham came up to the Co-op and single handedly turned 50 2X4’s into about 500 hundred blocks of various sizes. We were ready!

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Setting the perimeter

The Saturday of the Annual Clean-up Day and Crawfish Boil dawned and it was going to be beautiful. Just the right temperature to make you glad you were going to spend the day outside. The volunteers arrived and quickly got to work on clearing the leaves out of the area where the hive would be constructed. The perimeter was set and re-set, and probably re-set again. This was the most important piece since every additional block would be built upon it. Our carpenters were meticulous in setting the base. It was several hours before they got into a rhythm and the hive began to take shape. All the other work around the Co-op had been tackled and the crawfish arrived, but no one wanted to stop building and eat! Finally it was decided that they would tag in and out, a few taking a break to eat at a time. The play hive was finished later that afternoon. It was one of our most complicated builds to date, and we wouldn’t have it but for the dedication of our families who raised the money for the project and who gave up a whole Saturday to stay and build this for us. We want to extend a special thanks to Ben, Ethan, Thomas G., Chris, Annie, Thomas B., Will, Haley, and Allison who stayed late and saw the build through to the end!

It's starting to take shape

It’s starting to take shape

We're in a groove now!

We’re in a groove now!

Almost There!

Almost There!

TaDa!!

TaDa!!

For a full gallery of the whole build, visit our Facebook page.

We REALLY REALLY REALLY Want a Play Hive!

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Play Hive

Every spring we host a Co-op Spring Clean and Crawfish Boil, and every spring we try to include a new build for one of our playgrounds. This year, we want to build a structure called a play hive. The play hive is expensive to build so, as we do for any addition to our center, we are having a fundraiser. We have two ways to help . Option 1 is to visit Greenraising. They have a wide selection of items to order and we receive 45% of your purchase. Option 2 is to donate cold, hard cash. We receive 100% and we will commemorate your donation by burning your family’s name into the play hive where future Co-op kids and families will be able to reflect upon your generosity for generations to come.  Whichever way you choose to help, please know that the staff, administration, and most importantly the Co-op Kids appreciate your support for our program and dedication to improving the center!

We Must Be Doing Something Right!

Yesterday we were spotlighted on a Facebook page that we get some of our inspiration from, Play Empowers – Sharing the Power of Play! You might think “What’s the big deal?”. For us, it’s validation that the play experiences that we provide our Co-op Kids on a daily basis are valued and important, that what we do is what is right, and that making a conscious decision to support and provide an appropriate environment is the best way for children to learn. Our families who are enrolled support our efforts, the families on our waiting list support our efforts but it sure is nice when we gain some national validation. We must be doing something right!      We’ve caught national attention!

Another Year

At the close of another year we reflect on how grateful we are to be part of this amazing and wonderful adventure that is the Child Development Cooperative and want to express how truly proud we are of everything we have accomplished with our little “village”. Our fall garden is still kicking thanks to some green thumbed grownups and big kids (a big accomplishment after our sad spring garden). Our parents are more active than ever: cutting our lawn, taking care of trees and leaves, purchasing copy  machines and supplies, donating items to be reused as art projects, and participating in all the fun year round activities and field trips. We’ve furthered our “growing up green” mission by adding our enrollment and employment application online instead of paper, switched to organic milks, held a successful toy and costume exchange, and receive regular donations from our families of paper that was printed on one side to be used for art. (We go through a LOT, so this is huge!) We also had an amazing Art Show in conjunction with our community’s annual White Light Night art hop, raising more money than we ever have just by our families “bidding” on their child’s art. The family turnout was inspiring.

There have been too many beautiful moments to list here. I just want to end this year by saying we love our Co-op staff, without which of course none of this would be possible and look forward to yet another fun-filled, awesome  year with our kids and families.