Thursday, June 8, 2017

Today, for the first time this year, our after school program students wanted to go inside as they said it was too hot! We did stay outside for 45 minutes so I could understand - this sudden change from "too cold" to "too hot" is a lot to take. Time for splashing in some kind of water body! It will happen soon as we only have 6 1/2 days of school left.

Before that happens, we are still busy with fun activities. Not just fun but educational and practical. Our students have been involved in the process of starting school's vegetable garden from painting signs when it was still snowy outside, to planting and eventually sprucing up the greenhouse. Under the guida
nce of our Spanish and FCS teacher, Marcella Carroll they cleaned and painted the entrance. There is even a palm tree adorning the front wall!
I am positive that they will be very proud watching the vegetables they started from seeds grow.

It's not just "work" here. We take out the scooters once again for spins around the skate park, play ball, make fairy houses and just enjoy the outdoors.

To wrap up a fun and interesting year we are planning a pizza and ice cream party next Monday - the children voted and that's what they decided they would like to do as a culminating event. Photos to come in the next and last blog of this school year!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Welcome Sunshine!

The sun feels good today, especially after all that we have gone through lately - two major snow storms. The weather reports called them winter storms, but shouldn't they be called Spring Snow Storms ? I guess that might remind us too much of the fact that indeed Spring started two weeks ago but winter is still holding on tight, at least for another week...

To take advantage of being forced to be indoors more than our students would have liked, our enrichment teachers created fun and educational activities. During Paper Engineering program with Anne Stiebing, children created their own playgrounds, models of imaginary house rooms (I could see a potential for future interior designers there!) and backyards with swimming pools and more. 

Lego League Jr. has been a great success - no surprise there! It never amazes me how the kids whom I think I know pretty well come up with new designs and how focused they are when building their creations with whatever materials they are being handed in. 

And finally, Spring has been on our minds while students with the help of Mrs. Carroll painted signs for the vegetable garden they will be working on and even already planted some seeds today with more to come once the temperatures go up and the sun shines more often. Can't wait!

In the meantime, while we still have lots of snow on the ground, our students joined Stockbridge to visit Rochester Forest Ranger Station. We cannot thank the Rangers enough for how kind and patient they were when teaching our students survival skills, the art of snowshoeing, showing them different kind of animal skins (they could touch and try to tell), meeting rescue dogs and of course Smokey the Bear. It was a perfect day to (hopefully) say good-bye to Winter.

Wishing everyone lots of sunshine,

Jolanta Labejsza, Rochester OnePlanet Site Coordinator 

Monday, February 20, 2017

We got snow!

I hope that everyone had a sweet and special Valentine's Day. After school children came to us all happy and sugary, carrying their half eaten treats and even a container of some leftover pieces of a yummy cake to be shared with friends and teachers. Finding a cute Valentine on my laptop warmed my heart - if any holiday teaches our children to spread sweets and love, let's keep it!

The other thing that makes our kids happy is the fresh snow we have recently got ... and lots of it! We have been outside when it was snowing and on all the other days to sled, ice skate and climb snow mountains! Forts and caves are being made anew, promoting collaboration while having fun, breathing fresh winter air and taking in beautiful valley views that we are lucky to be surrounded by.

Quality afterschool and summer learning programs keep kids safe and healthy, inspire learners, help working families, and support Vermont's vision for education. In addition, afterschool and summer programs are places to get healthy snacks and meals, participate in fun physical activities, and stay out of trouble.

We need to ask our legislators to support state funding of $2.5 million to the ELO Special Fund in the General Fund Budget FY18. An annual appropriation of $2.5 million would help to ensure all high-need communities in Vermont get the financial support they need to make sure that kids and families have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. We need to ask the legislature to support H.270, a bill that would create structure for ELO Special Fund.

To help advocate for this, I attended the Vermont Afterschool & Summer Learning day at the Vermont State House in Montpelier on Feb. 16 and met with our Legislators in the hope that they would support funding these programs. You can help too, by calling and writing our representatives  with stories, data and information about how children will be affected if funds are cut.
Thank you!

Next week winter vacation starts and when we come back to school on March 8, One Planet will go into Session III with some new and exciting programs. Packets with all that information are going home with students this week and will also be published right here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Happy New Year!

One Planet finished last year with a great program led by Carrie McDonnell, our Director, on December 20th, a half day. It was an afternoon filled with fun holiday activities, like making decorations, gingerbread house and best of all gingerbread cookies which some children were patient enough to wait to take home but some ate them right there! They looked and were delicious as the photo below shows:

The new year started with fun in the snow or ice, which we had a lot of. Unfortunately, some days were just too icy but some were in between when snow "bails" could be made and transformed into all kind of structures, a scientifically creative adventure!

Speaking of science, we have had a couple of weeks of tinkering, a unique form of STEM learning. Students were making tops with materials that can be usually found in every house, like screws and washers - amazing how a little imagination and skill can work wonders!
And what a wonder it is to be able to roast marshmallows in winter, which is what our children have a chance to do during the outdoor program which includes cooking outside and exploring our nearby forest. The kids come back with rosy cheeks and lots of things to tell.

That's what we like them to experience - new things or old things which can be seen in a different light and in various scenarios.
Knowing that they come to us after a whole day of school, we make sure that they get a chance to move a lot. First, it's time outside around the playground, then also during the programs we offer. Even Spanish is not just learning new words but also dancing around to lively Spanish music with our own Spanish teacher Ms. Marcella Carroll. 
We can also create music during the International Drumming program with Ms. Holly Mugford, The kids have certainly been having fun being loud!

One more thing that we have wanted to do outside is ice skating but unfortunately the weather hasn't been cooperating. We are optimistic, though, and got a box of ice skates ready with our students' names on them. And once we actually did skate and the kids had lots of fun. Here's to hoping there will be more days like that!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hello Winter!
We had our first snow day today but it had been snowing on previous days as well, to the delight of our One Planet after school students. Of course, it takes longer for us to take all these impatient adventurers outside as we have to go over the check list of hats, gloves, etc. In the early days of cold and snow, there are always runs to the classrooms for forgotten said items or to the nurse's office to borrow some.

Once we are outside, the glee is contagious! We all smile remembering our own childhood days of sledding, snowman building, snow eating, no matter what adults tell us, and not minding snow all over us, unless it goes down our backs. And so we teachers gladly participate in the fun:)

This has been a nice start to our Session II offering some new exciting and enriching programs, such as:

  • International drumming with our music teacher Holly Mugford
  • Tinkering with Robert Eddy
  • Outdoor class/cooking with Amy Braun
  • and our ongoing popular Spanish Fiesta with Marcela Carroll
We had a field trip in November and another one last Friday. The first one was at the Head over Heels gymnastics place in Rutland and as expected, children enjoyed all that tumble, rope swinging, trampoline jumping and balance beams and went home tired but all that exercise was good for them!

Last Friday was a very busy day as we first went bowling to Randolph, always popular place with kids. They all asked for no bumpers and did very well. We were all glad that pizza was included in the program as soon after we came back to Rochester, the little ones (grade preK-2) performed at the Pierce Hall as part of the annual Starry Night. Even after such a busy day, they sang and danced beautifully! They all looked very festive and happy! 

Happy Holidays from One Planet!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween.
Rochester afterschool kids talked about their costumes and parties for weeks prior to the day! It was fun to see their excitement. They even made their own "one day" costumes one rainy day when we decided to do arts and crafts, using our own materials and kids' imagination. Check this out:

And while the weather is still nice, we spend at least 20 minutes outside, more on Fridays when we go to the skate park to ride our new scooters - we got a couple of new ones recently. This has been a favorite outside activity lately. Once winter comes and the skate park will become ice skating rink we are going to offer ice skating session. We did it two winters ago and all the children loved it! We provide ice skates so it makes it much easier for parents. We will also go sledding.

On Friday, October 28th, the whole staff from Rochester and other sites attended an all day Afterschool Conference at Stoweflake. It offered many informative, hands-on workshops with lots of ideas and solutions we will be able to apply in our program.

Starting November 1st, Ryan Veilleux is joining our staff as a full time head teacher. He has been working as a substitute for Rochester School for about 3 years with the last year working full time as a para educator in the first grade classroom. He is a great addition to our program and we are happy to have him. The kids are really excited!

Monday, October 10, 2016

another week at One Planet

We were fortunate to have had nice weather all last week which allowed us to have our after school children play outside every day, something that they always ask for. It allows them to unwind after a long day and reap the benefits of fresh healthy Vermont air while admiring the beauty of this fall's magnificent foliage.
The students never cease to enjoy playing at the playground and the newest fun and learning activity is playing basketball, a lot of times with their "older friends". Over the last couple of weeks, they learnt a lot of valuable basketball moves but what they like most is to be able to interact with high school students, one of the great benefits of a small school.

While inside, we continue offering the students great programs. They have lots of educational fun during Spanish, learning songs, dances and making pinatas - they helped make those used during the Fall Celebration Day! Mrs. Carroll sure keeps them hopping - they come back ready for some quiet activities like playing legos, games, reading and doing crafts.

Yoga is another way to help our children unwind and relax. They have learned quite a few poses by now! They have also been helping using herbs to make healthy teas and bath salts. I am pretty sure their parents like the samples the children (and teachers) take home. I sure did!

During art, the children have been painting rocks, which will be displayed around school, joining the others that are already adorn
ing our pathways.

Minds in Motion, using STEM elements, is another favorite as it once again takes the children outside to explore our beautiful nature and all it has to offer.

Fridays are the days we all look forward to and here at One Planet, we listen to children's choices of programming. Most of the time they vote for scooter riding and when it's get cold and wet, I have some ideas to present, Polish cooking being one of them - I am pretty sure the children will like kneading the dough for pierogi:)

I need to mention here that One Planet offers healthy snacks (we are on the same food plan as the other sites, all fresh ordered weekly by Sally in Bethel).

All in all, things are going great!