Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tour of Robin's Nest, North Burlington

Today legislative candidates from Burlington came to see Robin's Nest's pre-k program and Richmond Elementary School's pre-k classroom. Lisa Ventriss of the Vermont Business Roundtable came along to remind candidates of the economic value of high quality early education. Pre-k VT's lobbyist Jamie Feehan attended too.
Senator Virginia "Ginny" Lyons
Senator Diane Snelling and Rep. Helen Head at Robin's Nest today
Program director Lou Ann Beninati (standing) with House candidate Joanna Cole and a student Rep. Denise Begins Barnard, Senate Candidate.

Senator Hinda MillerBusiness Roundtable President Lisa Ventriss
House candidate Joanna Cole
Prek VT lobbyist Jamie Feehan

Attending the Robin's Nest tour were Sen. Hinda Miller, Sen. Ginny Lyons, Sen. Diane Snelling, and Senate candidate Denise Barnard, who is currently Richmond's representative. Rep. Helen Head and House candidate Joanna Cole joined them. The program director Lou Ann Beninati led the tour and emphasized the struggle the center has had in making benefits a priority for its workers.

At Richmond Elementary School Principal Lauren Wooden took the candidates down to the classroom and answered questions about this school based program. Teacher Suzanne Self explained the program, including the sign language instruction the children receive. Sen. Lyons, Rep. Denise Barnard, Lisa Ventriss, and all three Richmond House candidates - Mary Houle, Ann O'Brien and Hunter Yeates - attended.

Pre-K teacher Suzanne Self with the special star student of the dayPrincipal Lauren Wooden and Rep. Denise Barnard

Mary Houle, Lisa Ventriss, Senator Ginny Lyons

House candidates Ann O'Brien and Hunter Yeates

Monday, October 20, 2008

Media links

Nice editorial on the value of early care and education in the Bennington Banner today:

and...great coverage of the St. Albans tour in the St. Albans Messenger:

and listen for Nina Keck's story on the many issues facing Vermont legislative candidates, including early education and the economy - coming up on http://VPR.net

Rutland VAC tour - October 20

The tour today of the Rutland Vermont Achievement Center was well attended by local legislators. The program has been NAEYC accredited since 1996 and serves children in two pre-k classrooms.

Center Director Kiki McShane and Advancement Director Traci Moore were terrific hosts. The legislative candidates included Sen. Hull Maynard, Sen. Kevin Mullin, Sen. Bill Carris, Sen. Alice Nitka, and Hope Blucher, a local Senate candidate. Also attending were Rep. Peg Flory, Rep. Joe Acinapura, Rep. Bill Canfield, Rep. Dave Potter, Rep. Bob Helm, Rep. Jim McNeil, and House candidates Carolyn Schwalbe, and Megan Smith.

Nina Keck of VPR attended also, Rob Bliss, Early Education Coordinator from the Rutland Supervisory Union, along with a VAC board member, local psychologist Doug Andrews.
Sen. Hull Maynard reads to the children at Rutland's VAC.

Rep. Joe Acinapura, Rob Bliss, Sen. Kevin Mullin

Megan Smith plays with two pre-k students.

Pumpking painting with Sen. Mullin.

Candidate for Senate Hope Blucher in blue, and classroom volunteer Grandma Lee give advice on painting pumpkins.

Rep. Bill Canfield discusses drawing techniques. House candidate Carolyn Schwalbe is standing in the background.

Sen. Alice Nitka, Sen. Bill Carris, and Diahn Johnson, the pre-k program director

Rep. Dave Potter listens along with the class to story time.

Rep. Bob Helm stands (left) as Sen. Hull Maynard is a huge hit reading to the children.

Rep. Jim McNeil, program advancement director Traci Moore, and pre-k program director Diahn Johnson.

Rep. Peg Flory plays pretend with the preschoolers.

Rep. Helm speaks with the staff.

House candidate Carolyn Schwalbe

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barlow Street Center, St. Albans VT

Barlow Street was packed with legislative candidates today, many of whom had asked for tours of high quality pre-k during the last legislative session. We worked with Michelle Spence of the local superisory union to set up the tour. The Center's staff - Andrea Racek, John Payne, Carmen Dennis, and Jackie Provost were all very welcoming. Here is senate candidate Bill Rowell, children from the class, Gov. Douglas, Sen. Collins, and teacher Andrea Racek.

The classroom was small, so we took our turns viewing the activities by chatting about the value of high quality pre-k in the cneter's hallway. from left - Greg Gervais, Sen. Don Collins, Rep. Gary Gilbert, Gov. Douglas, Sen. Sara Kittell, and Rep. Kathleen Keenan

In deep discussion about the benefits of early education for all children, from the left are pictured Lynn Dickinson, Rep. Michel Consejo, Rep. Richard Howrigan, George Bilodeau and Rep. Carolyn Branagan

House candidate Tony Martel is in the red shirt. John Payne is on the left and is a staff member at the center.

Thanks to the children and the staff at Barlow Street Center for hosting us, to Michelle Spence for helping handle arrangements, and to all the legislative candidates who attended: Rep. Carolyn Branagan, Rep. Gary L. Gilbert, George Bilodeau, Lynn Dickinson, Rep. Richard Howrigan, Rep. Kathleen Keenan, Tony Martel, Jeff Young, Dennis Williams, Rep. Michel Consejo, Randy Brock, Sen. Don Collins, Sen. Sara Kittell, Bill Rowell, and Gov. Jim Douglas.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tour of Bennington College Early Childhood Center

The Bennington College Early Childhood Center has been in operation for 75 years, and was accredited by NAEYC in 2003. Recently the Center signed an agreement with the Shaftsbury School District to enroll children in the pre-k program under Act 62's pre-k for all funding law.
The Center's pre-k and kindergarten classroom is combined and housed in a building once used to shelter turkeys on the college's farm. It is full of everything you'd find in a high quality center - lots of fun and stimulating things for kids to do.

Rep. Anne Mook (left) of Bennington sat on the House Education Committee and was very helpful in passing the pre-k funding bill. Bennington College Provost and Dean Ellisa Tenny (right) attended the tour too.
Rep. Mary Morrissey (foreground) and Rep. Bill Botzow toured the center today with the other legislative candidates. Here they are watching the children harvest carrots from their vantage point on the playground boardwalk.
Rep. Cynthia Browning also attended the tour.
Rep. Botzow in the classroom.

Program Director Darlene Bombard has been with the program for 20 years as a teacher and director.

A warm day in Autumn - a perfect time to play outside with water - and to tour a lovely pre-k program.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Candidate Tour at Northshire Day School, Manchester Oct 3

Dem Senator Bob Hartwell reads to the children of the Northshire Day School pre-k classroom at the tour of the program on October 3.

Gop Senate candidate Ruth Harvie of Manchester chats with a student.

Gop candidate Rep. Rick Hube of Londonderry at the play table.

Independent House candidate from Dorset, Josh Teresco.

Gop House candidate Rep. Patti Komline of Dorset checks out the computer game.

Dem House candidate Jeff Wilson and GOP candidate Rep Judy Livingston read side by side to the children.
Dem House candidate from Londonderry - Tom Buchanen.
Dem House candidate from Dorset - Ed Weissman.

Asking the Presidential Candidates about Early Ed

Early Ed Watch has some great questions for the candidates to answer tonight at the second presidential debate. Check this out:


Wednesday, October 1, 2008


We're doing tours of high quality pre-k programs around the state with legislative candidates and media -as an educational event. If you are a legislative candidate and wish to tour a center in your area, please contact me at prek at comcast.com

Oct 3 - Northshire Day School, Manchester
Oct 14 - Bennington College, Bennington
Oct 17 - Barlow Street Center in St. Albans
Oct 20 - Vermont Achievement Center, Rutland
Oct 28 - The Robin's Nest in Burlington and Richmond School in Richmond
Oct 30 - Mary Johnson Children's Center, Middlebury