September 2014 SFF Newsletter

Director’s Report

WELCOME to all returning families and new ones alike. We are looking forward to a joyous 2014-15 school year after a very rich summer.

Luckily all our teachers are returning with a couple of exceptions in the parttime teacher category. Jemmy Joseph, our afternoon aide in the BR, is out on maternity leave. Shaciara Smith left for graduate school and is being replaced by Cristina Alba – a familiar face from the past three summers. She has a degree in early childhood education and is also working at Temple Sinai Nursery School.

All our teachers are rested from their summer vacations and eager to start with their new classes. A lot of new equipment and supplies are on the shelves and in the classroom.

Please take a look at the handouts you received in your mail pouches on the first day. There’s a lot of important information there.

VISITORS – On August 14 we had a contingent of 19 early childhood educators visit the school from Iceland! They met with me, toured the school, and then visited more in classrooms and on the playground. They appreciated the new ideas, and we spent a fair amount of time comparing our two different systems.

IN-SERVICE STAFF DEVELOPMENT – Obviously the week we were closed in August, the teachers worked hard on setting up their classrooms and planning curriculum. They also attended two days in in-service training. It was varied:

Deborra Sines Pancoe, from the Friends Council on Education, spent Monday morning with us discussing the following: Quaker Values, History and Education; Moment of Silence and the Use of Reflective Silence; and Exploring Quaker Pedagogy, Values and Testimonies at a Friends School.

That afternoon started with a discussion of our summer reading, an article “Reflections and Impressions from Reggio Emilia”

Finally on Monday, the Blue Room teachers and Angel Richardson from the Green Room attended a training by Early Stages (the Child Find agency for DC) on “The importance of Early Intervention” and “Ages and Stages Questionnaire.”

Tuesday started with our own Jackie Whiting giving us a PowerPoint presentation on her sabbatical at Carolina Friends School Early Learning Center in Durham.

Following that, our curriculum consultant Jacky Howell spent the day with us focusing on – creating empathy, setting the children up for success, building cohesive teams, and creating a learning community.

Much thanks to parent Megan Souchaud for dinner at Bier Baron across the street.

And thanks to SfF parents for the catered lunches these two days of training.

Important Dates:

  • September 22nd: Back to School Night
  • October 13th: Columbus Day – School Closed


Quaker House

Dear QH- families:

The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time, and this year is no exception.

We are looking forward to a wonderful year together, and hope you and your children are anticipating the same.

Julie, Magy, Elsy, and myself have spend the past week carefully setting up the classroom so your child will feel welcome and comfortable to make the necessary transition into their second year at QH or new environment. Even though most of the children are familiar with each other, it does always take some time to settle in and build a new community of curious and creative learners.

We begin the school year by exploring the various areas of the classroom.

All of the interest areas are purposefully organized, and together we are establishing where to find and return materials, how to use and care for them, and how to make meaningful and productive choices. To promote constructive communication we will, for example, establish various “signs” (visual/auditory) that will help us exchange ideas, feelings and needs in an appropriate and increasingly satisfactory manner.

To create a safe community we will encourage the children to develop and establish basic classroom rules and post them in plain sight. We will take the time, every day, to deal with the details of teaching cooperation and helpfulness – aspiring to a classroom in which children show concern for each other.

Children will have the opportunity to play and work one-on-one with their designated buddies, in small groups, or sometimes with the whole class. This way the children have lots of time to interact with different friends, and maybe play with a peer they normally wouldn’t choose, and establish new friendships.

The teachers are always there to support, comfort, and reassure, especially in the first weeks, and slowly build confidence and independence.

At the same time we are carefully observing and facilitating play, building trusting relationships and getting a sense of each child and their interests. This way we are able to plan a curriculum based on the interests and abilities of the Quaker House children and at the same time make it appropriately challenging so everyone will be ready for Kindergarten next year.

Essential parts in building a QH community are you the parents.

We are looking very much forward to get to know you better, and serve your child and you to the best of our abilities.

You can learn more about the classroom, curriculum, and teachers during the upcoming “Back to School Night” on 9/22/2014 at 7:30 pm.

We, on the other hand, are very interested to hear from you what you would like your child to experience/develop during this school year, and if there are ways in which you would like to be involved and contribute to our classroom.

We are always open for questions, concerns, and suggestions throughout the school year, and look very much forward to a great year.

Thank You!

The QH-teachers


Rainbow Room 

Welcome Rainbow Room Families to the new 2014-2015 school year! We understand that moving to the Rainbow Room is a big change from the children’s previous classes, but LaJuan and I [Makai] are here to make that transition as smooth as possible.   There will be a new schedule, rules, routines, teachers, and classmates.

The drop off routine is different this year. If you bring your child to school before 9am, their belongings come upstairs where you can sign your child in on the classroom door and then your child stays in the Quaker House classroom until 9am from where we move upstairs. Lunchboxes can be placed in our own refrigerator in the classroom. Please remember to label lunches with your child’s name and the date. We also have a rack specifically for hot lunches.

As parents, your participation in your child’s school life is very important. Everyday a blog will be posted that describes the day’s events, a particular activity, or an exciting revelation by the children. By reading the blog, you not only gain insight to your child’s day but it also assists as a conversation starter with your child on your way home, at the dinner table, or before bed. Also, on the door there is a sign up sheet to bring in fruits and vegetables to supplement our daily snacks.

LaJuan and I are looking forward to the children’s exploration of the classroom areas and materials through which they will build their own meaning and understanding.

LaJuan and I are always open to communication, so please feel free to talk to us about anything regarding your child. The best time to contact us is at 2:30pm which is nap time unless there is an emergency. E-mail is also convenient. You will receive more information as well as have all of your questions answered at the Back to School Night on Monday September 22.

Important reminders:

  • Bring in rain jackets/boots that stay at school for rainy day play
  • Two complete sets of seasonal extra clothes/ extra underwear and pull-ups are appreciated
  • Make sure to clearly LABEL all items!!!
  • Sheets and blanket come in on Monday and go home for washing on Friday. If your child requires a pillow please make sure it is a small size and a soft naptime friend is welcome, but please limit it to one.
  • Parents and children are required to wash hands upon entering School for Friends under licensing requirements.

The Rainbow Room team is looking forward to a great school year.

Thank you,

Makai, LaJuan, and Cristina


Green Room

The First Days of School: Dealing with Preschool Separation Anxiety! By Lisa Medoff from – I also added some comments and a few pictures from visits back in August.

Separation anxiety is a very common problem for preschool children, especially during the first few weeks of school. You may also see some separation anxiety in children after an illness, a vacation, or even a long weekend, where they have become accustomed to being at home for a long period of time.

A preschool child is at the age where he/she is learning to negotiate his/her independence, a concept that is both exciting and scary at the same time. With the realization that he/she is their own person, with wants and needs that are separate from yours, comes the realization that you may not always be by his/her side. Going to preschool can make this last point painfully clear, causing your child to become anxious about letting you out of his sight. Here are some tips for cutting down on separation anxiety during the preschool years:

  • Remember that children do pick up on your mood, even if they cannot yet articulate their feelings, so try to remain calm and positive about your child going to school, especially if it is for the first time.
  • Do not automatically assume that your child is worried about starting school or that she will have separation anxiety. Do not signal that she/ he should be nervous by asking leading questions, such as, “Are you worried about starting preschool and being away from mommy?” Instead, focus on the exciting aspects of starting school.
  • Some families made a visit to the preschool back in August. It is a nice away preparing them for the first day. We cannot wait to see everyone during our Back to School Night in September. If possible, spend time in the classroom and in the play areas. Make sure your child knows where the bathroom is located and any other orienting details that he/she needs. Prepare ahead of time for the first day of school, and make it a special event to look forward to. In the days leading up to the first day, talk to your child about what will happen that morning. Tell him how excited you are about all the fun he/she is going to have, and how you can’t wait to hear about everything he/she is going to do.
  • Do not drag out the separation process, especially on the first day. Take your child to the classroom, hug her/he, tell her/he that you love her/he, tell her/he what time you will back to pick her up, and then leave. Do not stay or return if your child begins to cry. At School for Friends the teachers will know how to get your child involve and make her feel comfortable.
  • Plan ahead about how you will handle your own feelings about leaving your child so that she/he does not see you getting upset, and then get upset themselves. Think about what you will say when you leave your child and how you will keep from getting emotional in front of her/him.
  • Always be there on time to pick up your child. Being on time is especially important during the first few days of school. If she/he believes that you will be there to pick her/him up when you said you would, then she/he will be more likely to separate easily.

Children may display anxiety about separation in different ways, not wanting to get dressed in the morning, refusing to make eye contact with or talk to the teacher,or being overly clingy. Understand that different children react to separations and new situations in different ways; some children adapt more easily (which does not mean that they don’t love you or miss you while you are gone!) and some are shyer and take longer to adjust. However, if you can manage to stay consistent with your routines, both at home and at school, your child should eventually become comfortable with the process of you leaving her/him at preschool.

Planning ahead can cut down on problems with separation, both for you and your child. Stay calm, be positive, and trust the teachers to handle the situation once you leave. Keep to a regular routine as much as possible, and keep any other major changes to a minimum.



Blue Room

Welcome to the Blue Room! We are very excited for the upcoming school year. It is very important to us for your child to feel welcomed and comfortable in their new environment. If there is anything in particular that we can do to help you or your child with the transition into school, let us know. We want to start off the year by letting you know a little about your child’s teachers.

Staci is the lead teacher and this is her fourth school year at School for Friends. She was born and raised in Oregon and moved to Washington D.C. 5 years ago upon graduating college. Staci went to college at The University of Oregon where she studied Sociology and Special Education and has course work in Early Childhood Education. She enjoys sports, especially watching college football. Growing up she played basketball, softball and volleyball and also coached volleyball for elementary aged children. Staci’s favorite color is light green and she really enjoys Thai food and coffee.

This is Cyana’s fourth year working as an assistant teacher in the Blue Room. She previously worked at School for Friends for two years as a classroom aide. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and attended George Washington University where she received a B.A. in Sociology. Cyana has been working with children for over nine years, working in summer camps, babysitting, and in the classroom. Prior to full-time employment at School for Friends, she has worked at several different child care centers in the Washington area. She enjoys traveling, writing, sushi, sewing and sports.

Elizabeth grew up just outside D.C. in Alexandria , Virginia. This is her third year in the Blue Room. She attended Ohio Wesleyan University and graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology. Post graduation she worked and traveled the East Coast of Australia for a year, working at a primary school and ski resort. Upon returning to the Washington area she was a substitute before joining the Blue Room full time. Elizabeth enjoys traveling, sports, and making new friends!

We will be starting out the school year by exploring the Blue Room and learning about each other. Don’t forget about back to school night on September 19th.

We look forward to getting to know you and your child throughout the year!