The Parent Community Organization newsletter of Imagine Environmental Charter School JUNE 2009 Vol. 1, Issue 5
A letter from Jon
moving forward I would like to take
this opportunity to
recognize the enor-
made by parents
during our school’s
first year. The ECS
school event list
is testimony to the dedication and
generosity of ECS parents and
volunteers. Over the course of this
school year volunteers have, among
many other things, baked, pub-
lished, designed, swept, planted,
walked, taught, donated, sold, cut,
laminated, collated, organized, sup-
ported, and chaired. Their efforts
and expertise have added immea-
surable value to our school culture.
Additional thanks should be directed
toward our enormously talented
looking back See Letter, page 4
Board members rate the In this issue...
success of ECS’s first year Kids Speak Out .......................... 3
Connect with Nature ................... 4
By KatE LuCE angELL Summer Events .......................... 5
ECS’s first year has been so successful on so many fronts that it is difficult to imagine Treespotting................................ 6
now that the school’s success hasn’t always been a foregone conclusion. That’s Debatable......................... 7
That’s the overwhelming sense that emerges from talking to Board President Barbara Field Guide ................................. 8
Hicks, Board member Monte Bohna and curriculum consultant Phil Parr. 5 Questions ................................ 9
The topic at hand was what the three thought were the school’s biggest Recipe ...................................... 10
accomplishments this year, and what became clear during those discussions was that Summer Reading...................... 11
we can’t start to measure those accomplishments without remembering how close
E-Day ....................................... 12
ECS came to remaining just another good idea—and the years of hard work that went
into making that idea a reality. Ambrusko Memorial ................. 13
Earth Day & Night ..................... 14
For Board member Monte Bohna, parent of first grader Meg Bohna, it’s the way the
PCO Fundraising Report ........... 15
See ECS Board, page 2 Giving Back .............................. 16
ECS Board reflects on success
ECS Board, from page 1 during that time were aghast at what
school has risen to the challenge of
serving its students and their parents
“If our successes they accomplished.
that stands out. can lead to “We had no purchasing or cleaning
policies—we needed to create them.
“When we tried to get a charter for
the school,” said Monte, “we got a lot improvements in The building needed to be brought
up to code. We created the PCO.
of skepticism from the school board,
people in the city and the suburbs.”
public education, There was so much to do as far as the
environmental curriculum. There was all
One big source of that skepticism, he that’s for the hiring and the training. And we had
no furniture or books,” said Barbara,
added, was the school’s progressive
environmental theme. everyone’s good.” listing just a few of the tasks required
to open ECS doors for the start of the
“The fear, I think, was that this school school year.
would be an enclave for the children of “If our successes can lead to She gives credit to everyone who was
white, middle-class people who liked to improvements in public education, that’s involved in those harried early months,
hug trees,” he said. for everyone’s good,” he said. “So by but Barbara reserved her greatest praise
But Monte said he and the others that yardstick, too, ECS is a success.” for the commitment of her fellow Board
on the Board, as well as community While Monte views the school’s members and principal Jon McCann.
supporters, felt strongly that ECS would accomplishments from a perspective of “There were nights we had to grab
appeal to, and serve the interests of, service to its constituent populations, him and tell him to go home, to take a
three important local groups: urban, Board President Barbara Hicks sees the break,” she said of Mr. McCann. “But it
largely African-American families, white success of ECS as the product of a very was clear he just loved doing it all, even
families from immediately adjacent areas long road, and as a result of the efforts of when it was overwhelming.”
such as Regent Square and Squirrel a great many committed supporters.
Hill and those students whose parents There is still much to do, Barbara
would be attracted to the environmental “It was in August of 2006 that the added. “We have the expansion plans
curriculum. Board first came together at my house,” to work on. The Strategic Plan will be
remembered Barbara. “And we met for out soon. And we want to work on
The proof that a self-governed, two long years with no school.” creating closer ties to the community
environmentally themed school could
Then, in February 2008, the Pittsburgh and to our partners in the non-profit and
work for all three of these groups, he
Board of Education finally granted the environmental worlds.”
said, can be found in parents’ reactions
to the school. ECS charter, and suddenly, “everything
had to be done right away.”
“The school has widespread support
among parents from every segment of The Board called on Marla Ferrency and “We need to
the community,” he noted. “We’re not
just a success in a limited, niche kind
Kristin Abeshouse to help organize the
start-up, created a Marketing Committee maintain the
of way, but a success in a broad-based to start publicizing the school and made
what Barbara said she considers one of
culture of the
He noted that ECS has a minority
its most important decisions: picking a school as it grows,
student population of 40%, and that
since that’s the key
proportion is expected to continue. Clearly, she added, they picked the right
one in Jon McCann. “Jon literally put the to our success.”
Another element of resistance to ECS at school together,” she said, pointing out
first, he said, was its status as a charter that he brought Curriculum Coordinator
school. Kristen Priganc with him from the Urban Yet part of being Board President, she
“Public schools can be leery of charter League Charter School, where he had said, is learning to let go and have
schools,” he said. “They see us as a been Vice-Principal. confidence in others—and to enjoy what
challenge to them. It makes the public has been done so far.
With just spring and summer of 2008
system think harder about what they’re to work with, there was, said Barbara, “It took a huge group of people working
doing.” “a tremendous amount of work to do to together—using their skills, ideas and
But healthy competition is the point of start up the school.” thoughts—to get us where we are,” she
charter schools, added Monte, which reflected. “And now we have 156 kids on
What normally takes more than year,
is part of why President Obama and his our waiting list!”
ECS staff and supporters did in four
secretary of education, Arne Duncan, months. Barbara noted that the Imagine
have gone on record as supporting Schools staff who helped and visited See ECS Board, page 3
The kids speak out ECS Board
ECS Board, from page 2
Ms. Priganc asks 6 students:
“What is the best thing about this year at ECS?” Phil Parr is recovering from a serious
[ P h OTO S B y K I rSI Ja n S a ] leg injury, and so he has perhaps had
the most time of the three to consider
Like Barbara, he too believes the
choice of Jon McCann has been vital
we got our hikes!
to the success of the school.
“It’s easy to write down what you
awards. — tanner Maue,
think the vision and the values of an
organization should be,” said Phil.
“But actually enacting that vision—
— Mackenna amole, Kindergarten
that’s much harder. And I think we’ve
been very fortunate we hired a principal
who is a leader and who understands
the vision and values of our school.”
Meeting He also credits Jon with bringing on
board “highly effective leaders” in the
new friends. faculty and staff, and leading them in
such a way as to create consensus to
— nile Ross, 2nd grade move the school forward.
But Phil quickly moved on from the
school’s accomplishments to its
“We are continuing to integrate the
The field environmental curriculum into other
areas, and we are continuing to work
trip to Triple B
on using the park for instructional
purposes,” he said.
“We also are moving forward on our
expansion plans,” he noted, adding
that the school’s overwhelming
— niko Wiley, 2nd grade success has bred its own set of
“It’s a great problem to have,” he said
of the quick growth of ECS, “but we
Going art, because need to maintain the culture of the
school as it grows, since that’s the key
to Triple B Ms. Merenstein gave to our success.”
The school’s past experience bodes
Farms and me a compliment that well for that process, he said. “We
I am one of the best had so much to get done, so much to
respond to, but the Board has stuck
getting weavers to its vision throughout it all.”
to play in the Looking back, Phil paused for a
moment to voice something all three
violin. class! of those interviewed expressed.
“A lot of people didn’t believe we could
— naomi Shorr, do this,” he said. “Even many of us on
— Joshua the Board and our supporters weren’t
Burks-McCormick, prepared for how successful the school
3rd grade is. But just look at us now.”
10 Ways to help kids
Letter, from page 1
connect with nature
PCO. The PCO’s hard work con- 1. Start right now. Make spending time tured nature play increases problem
tributes to the quality of our school outdoors a habit for your whole family. solving skills, reduces stress, and
at every level. It is a true privilege Parents are the most important force in sharpens concentration.
working as part of such a caring and reconnecting our children to the natural
generous school community. world, and their enthusiasm can be con-
tagious. Having a family that values this 7. Sleep under the stars.
ECS has achieved much to be proud connection helps kids to feel rooted in the Visit a local state
of in its first year. The school has natural world and a sense of ownership park with your tent
established itself as a quality public for our planet. or check out cabin
school of choice serving students or yurt rentals.
from across the city and beyond. Don’t forget your
2009/10 enrollment and subsequent 2. Be prepared. Pack your child an explor- star map. For a list
lottery resulted in long waiting lists at er’s kit and encourage them to grab it and of parks check out
all grade levels. The school facility is go. Fill it with notebooks, colored pencils, www.dcnr.state.pa.us
poised to expand in 2010 providing a magnifying glass and jars to collect bugs
ECS students with a state-of-the-art and rocks. Keep rain boots and jackets
K-8 facility on the perimeter of one of accessible, so it is easy to be flexible and 8. Encourage your kids to check out a
the city’s premiere green spaces. As to embrace all sorts of weather. guide book and explore a new aspect of
ECS moves in to its second school the natural world. Kids really love to hunt
year a strategic plan has been cre- for different kinds rocks, trees, tracks,
ated that articulates areas for growth 3. Watch birds instead of or butterflies. Experts suggest that
and improvement. Parent and com- TV. According to the AAP, as familiarity with nature increases,
munity feedback has been central in the average American so does the sense of connection
the development of the school-wide kid spends more than 3 felt by our kids.
improvement goals. The 2009/10 hours a day in front of the
Strategic Plan, currently available TV or computer. The same
for review on the ECS web site, lays kid only spends 30 minutes 9. Team up with other families to form
out goals, strategies, and activities per week on unstructured outdoor an informal kids’ nature club, but let the
designed to facilitate school improve- play. The National Wildlife Federation kids’ set the pace. Meet for informal hikes
ment in the upcoming school year. suggests instituting a “greenhour”, a or share equipment like bikes, tents,
We look forward to the challenge of daily time dedicated to turning off the and kids outdoor clothing. Many of the
improving our school in a focused electronics and to free nature play. Go to benefits of this type of unstructured free
and deliberate manner. Thank you to www.greenhour.org for more information. play are social, and kids often really thrive
all school constituents that helped when they are given the freedom to create
craft the 2009/10 Strategic Plan. their own games.
4. Expand your living space to include
As part of an effort to improve school
the outdoors. Pitch a tent or make a
communications, the next school
fort, and treat it as your family room for 10. Show your support for No Child
year will bring a new web site and
the summer. Set up nature table in your Left Inside Act of 2009. Contact your
a web-based centralized student
yard and a chair for reading or napping representatives and encourage your kids
information system (SIS). In an effort
outside. Eat your dinners on a blanket in to do the same. Our kids are the next
to save paper and time, the school
the backyard. generation of conservationists and we
will manage all student data electroni-
will all benefit as they will grow to
cally. The SIS will provide teachers
respect and protect nature.
with a computer-based attendance
5. Start a backyard garden. Growing Go to www.NCLIcoalition.
application, an electronic grade book,
vegetables reminds kids of the impor- org for more information.
and the ability to provide homework
tant connection between the earth
and parent messaging online. Parents
and our food. Digging in the dirt has
will have access to grades and For more ideas check out
also been shown to be great exercise
student progress at all times through www.childrenandnature.
and to boost developing immune
a parent portal. Our administrative org/ and Last Child in the
staff will work hard over the summer Woods: Saving our Children
to install this system in preparation for from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard
the new school year. 6. Rediscover the simple pleasures of Louv. For a list of books for kids about
See Letter, page 10 childhood like climbing trees or catching nature see: www.natureforkids.net/chil-
worms, tadpoles and fireflies. Unstruc- dren-nature-books/.
What’s going on here? (LOCaL Fun FOr yOur FaMILy)
ECS Days at Forbes & Braddock Playground
June through August Summer 2009 Eve
Solar CoNCErt SErIES
The hit summer concert series is back! Bring the whole family to get together kINdErgartEN
The summer sun powers the sound with your child(ren)s classmates at the Saturday, July 11, noon - 3 p.m.
playground this summer. Each 2009-2010 Sunday, July 26, noon - 3 p.m.
system for Pittsburgh’s first green con-
cert series every Wednesday at 12:15 grade-level has two dates organized by the 1St gradE
pm, June through August. It’s presented PCO. Feel free to organize and publicize Sunday, July 12, noon - 3 p.m.
in front of the Children’s Museum in more get-togethers on your own. Saturday, August 1, noon - 3 p.m.
Allegheny Square on Pittsburgh’s the green 2Nd gradE
historic North Side, and free for all. family Saturday, July 18, noon - 3 p.m.
For more information, visit pittsburghkids.org enjoying Sunday, August 2, noon - 3 p.m.
June through August Sunday, July 19, noon - 3 p.m.
CItIparkS rovINg art Cart Saturday, August 8, noon - 3 p.m.
Pick up a paintbrush, sculpt with clay,
create 3D objects with paper and much
Some social events will be held at the Saturday, July 25, noon - 3 p.m.
more as the Citiparks Roving Art Cart Sunday, August 9, noon - 3 p.m.
school during the summer as well. Check
celebrates its 36th season of inspiring
the calendar at www.ecspco.org to confirm All dates held at the playground at
young artists in the City of Pittsburgh.
dates and get updates on summer events. Forbes and Braddock.
The Roving Art Cart visits city neighbor-
hood parks and playgrounds beginning
in June and concluding in August. The summer and fall by visiting Citiparks discover how magical the woods can be
Roving Art Cart visits one site each Farmers’ Markets. All markets will sell by the beam of glow sticks and fireflies!
Tuesday through Friday (10 a.m. to 1 farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, Cost: $20.00 family. Fee is based on a family
p.m.) and weekend community festivals cheese and baked goods, while sev- of four. Otherwise cost is $5 per person. For
and citywide special events (hours vary eral locations will also sell flowers, more information, visit ventureoutdoors.org
per event). The Roving Art Cart festivi- small gifts and gardening items.
ties kick off with a special opening day For more information, call 412-422-6523 Sunday, July 26, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
celebration on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at or visit city.pittsburgh.pa.us/parks/ Venture Outdoors presents:
the Super Playground in Highland Park. html/farmers_market.html FaMIly BIkE rIdE
For more information, call 412-665-3665 Join our experienced guides on this
June through September family-friendly ride through Highland Park.
June through August WEdNESday NIgHt WalkS The route is a paved, 1 mile loop- per-
CINEMa IN tHE park IN tHE WoodS fect for cyclists of all ages. Participants
Grab a blanket and head out for an un- The popular Wednesday-night walks in are welcome to practice their cycling
forgettable evening of cinema under the the woods runs from June to September, skills with one loop or complete more
stars. The 2009 “Dollar Bank Cinema in visiting a different regional park each for a fitness ride. Bike supply is limited,
the Park” schedule will include Slum- week. Docents familiar with the parks so advanced registration is recom-
dog Millionaire, Star Wars: The Clone and their neighborhoods provide a tour mended. Feel free to bring your own.
Wars, The Dark Knight, Mamma Mia!, that touches on the history, ecology, After the ride, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch.
WALL-E, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and improvements to the parks over Cost: $20.00 family. Fee is based on a family
and many other current movie favorites the years. of four. Otherwise cost is $5 per person. For
For a schedule of walks, visit: more information, visit ventureoutdoors.org
for all members of the family. Return to
your favorite movie location at Flagstaff
Hill, Riverview Park, Grandview Park in Saturday, August 22, 8:15 a.m.
OnE-tIME EVEntS: rUN aroUNd tHE SQUarE
Mt. Washington, Arsenal Park in Law-
renceville, Brookline Memorial Park, East Run – or walk – through Frick Park’s
Sunday, July 5, 8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. beautiful Fern Hollow. Citiparks and the
Liberty or West End/Elliott Overlook. Venture Outdoors presents:
For more information, visit citi- Regent Square Civic Association host
gloW StICk NIgHt HIkE an event featuring musicians, costumed
parks.net or call 412-937-3039 Gather the whole family up as the sun characters and themed-water stops
sets and head to Riverview Park for an sprinkled throughout the course.
June through November
enchanted evening hike. The pace will For more information, visit
CIty FarMErS’ MarkEtS
be leisurely, as our guides lead us along runaroundthesquare.com
Satisfy your appetite for fresh-picked
this flat, 1.5 to 2-mile trail. Together, we’ll
fruits and vegetables throughout the
Treespotting: Mad Horse
By paul g wiegman The next step is to remember the phonet- Your identification work isn’t done yet.
Now that the trees are green, identifica- ic device “MAD Horse”. That translates
There are several species of maples to
tion turns from the bark to the leaves. to Maple, Ash, Dogwood, and HORSE
be found in this area. Those include the
Chestnut. These are the four groups
With the wide variety of species growing common red maple, along with sugar
of native trees in this region that have
on the uplands, slopes, and bottomlands and silver maples. In addition, there are a
opposite leaves. If you check the leaf
of Frick Park, learning which species is couple of maples that are small trees or
arrangement and find that the leaves are
which can be daunting. There are some shrubs. All have the familiar simple palm-
attached to opposite sides of the twigs or
short cuts. shaped leaf. Well, all except one. Box
stem, the tree is one of these types.
elder, despite the name, is in the maple
The first step is to look at the way the family but has compound,
leaves are arranged on instead of simple, leaves.
the twigs. There are three However, the leaves are
basic patterns of leaf still oppositely arranged
arrangement: whorled, on the twigs.
alternate, and opposite.
Just like the maples,
Plants with more than two there are several species
leaves attached around of ashes including white,
the stem at the same red, and green. White ash
point are in a whorled is the most common so
arrangement. This is the when you find an ash tree
least common pattern. in Frick Park it is likely to
Plants with the leaves be white ash.
attached along the stem
alternating from one side Dogwood is easier. Only
to the other have an alter- the native white dogwood
nate attachment pattern. gets to be tree size. The
Finally, plants with leaves rest of the members of
attached along the stem this group are shrubs.
at the same point on the And finally, Horse refers to
twig but on opposite sides Horse Chestnut and there
of the stem have opposite is only one commonly
leaf arrangement, as you found species, the familiar
see in the photograph of a buckeye.
young maple. The next time you’re in
Checking the arrangement the park remember MAD
of the leaves is the first step Horse, and see if you can
in identifying what species find yourself a maple,
of tree you have found. ash, dogwood and horse
Endangered Species Would you like to provide your child with a
wholesome, delicious packed lunch every day?
Good group... good food... good cause! Y-LUNC Pack-My-Lunch is a mother-
owned catering business
delivering great lunches
We would love to have you join us directly ECS. We pack the
whether you have a lot of time, just a minute,
or no time at all but have a lot of interest! lunches that you would
Contact: Kathleen at email@example.com
pack if you had the time to.
or Bett at firstname.lastname@example.org
An o cial campaign of the Sierra Club Allegheny Group Visit Pack-My-Lunch.com for more information.
That’s debatable: homework
The opinions expressed in this column won’t necessarily lead to the changes their debaters desire, but they should serve to
open up more discussion—which is just what responsible newspapers should foster.
Do you agree with the school’s homework policy?
yes Doing Homework: from
Hassles to Habits
no Less Stress Leads to
We could lessen the unfortunate
We all struggle with do-
ing homework to varying amount of stress children face
degrees, but for those with these days by modifying ECS’s
1st-3rd graders, most agree: homework policy.
it can be a hassle. Homework We moved here from Finland
lengthens the school day last summer, and our first-born
(especially if kids ride a bus). started first grade. In most
It can take time away from every way I am happy with the
unstructured play, create stress for kids (and parents), and ECS. I have had, though, a hard time accepting the pressure
foster a negative attitude towards school. and stress the children are exposed to early on. Homework is
Yet homework also is a good habit to instill. Good habits are one part of this. Given the ECS has extended school days and
attitudes and behaviors that help our kids gain autonomy school year, the type of homework given merits some thought.
and take on new responsibilities. Saying “thank you” and What does a child really need after the final bell? Time for
doing small chores are examples. Doing homework is free and uninterrupted play? Time to be with friends? Time to
another. Some habits take months (or years) to instill in explore nature? Time to get enough sleep? Or another 15-30
our kids. First there might be a resistance phase, then a minutes of school work on top of the 7-hour (plus commute)
“continually needing to remind them” phase. Finally, with school day?
persistence, a habit forms where doing becomes more
automatic. Homework might be intended to take 15 minutes, but with the
struggle involved it often exceeds half an hour. How many of
Here are a few ideas we’ve found useful on making home- us adults want our tasks to follow us home after a long work
work more of a habit than a hassle for our 1st grader. First, day?
try to keep the amount of time spent on homework within
reason. A rule of thumb is 10-15 minutes starting in 1st I prefer to raise my child to know how to relax – just be – one
grade, adding about 5 minutes a year through 6th grade. who knows what leisure time means rather than promote a
Second, reward effort, not achievement. Instead of saying, stressed-out, workaholic lifestyle that is sadly the norm for
“good job” for just doing the work, we try to praise Matthew many adults.
for activities he works hardest on. Third, make homework Research has shown that homework during the first school
fun. Participate in activities included with the homework years does not guarantee improved academic performance.
assignments. Improvise with novel ideas related to the There is plenty of time in later grades to learn good study
learning unit. Fourth, encourage doing homework early so habits. I am also concerned that homework at the elementary
there’s more free time afterward. Finally, make rewards con- level may lead to an anti-school attitude.
tingent on promptness and cooperation in doing homework
(e.g., dessert surprise, get to watch PBS kids). This is a last All of us wish the best for our children. If the ECS requires
resort to help kick start a good habit. homework starting in 1st grade, then at least make it fun.
For example, the Love and Logic Institute promotes the
In sum, homework is a good habit for kids. And more idea of no-paper-and-pencil-homework. It might mean extra
extensive take home projects (that go beyond homework thought and added creativity from teachers and parents, but
exercises) also are great experiences that help kids learn there are many options to old-fashioned homework.
how to plan, follow instructions, and exert mental and
physical effort to complete a task. If you persist in trying to See: http://tinyurl.com/pjw22c
instill good homework habits, it will pay off. People, youth and adults alike, do better in life and are
- Gerard Beenen happier when they are relaxed and free of undue stress.
- Kirsi Jansa
Want to get into the fray?
Post your thoughts on the PCO message boards at www.ecspco.proboards59.com. Click on Newsletter for continued
diary of stumbled upon what looked like scat with
a skull in it! Everyone bent down to take
a closer look. Was the skull a carnivore
were walking! Nobody screamed and
nobody shouted. Instead, a calm group
of at least 30 1st grade students qui-
the Field or herbivore? Its teeth said herbivore and
the size indicated a woodchuck. Then
etly observed the snake as it navigated
through the tree roots and pebbles. I was
we pondered what would eat a wood- so impressed that I emailed the whole
chuck as I was pondering how in the staff about it!
world something could pass a skull that
Kids retain more in a hands-on fashion.
size in their scat!? As we were poking
By aMy BIanCO Repeated hikes to the same places
around at the skull, a large, unidentified
reinforce what they’ve learned. I had
Dear diary, bug crawled out from beneath and we
the opportunity to lead Ms. Raimondo’s
all took the time to check out the bug
The school year is coming to an end! It Kindergarten class on a leisure hike
and discuss its characteristics. It was an
went by as fast as the leaves appeared! through the park. While looking for signs
awesome nature mystery.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been on ap- of spring, the kids kept pointing out
proximately 70 hikes with the staff and The largest hiking group was always 1st some of the more, well, stinky things
students since January. The students grade. All three classes would go out along the trail, namely dog poop. So, our
have come a long way with their hiking as one big group. One sunny day, while conversation turned to animal scat, scat
etiquette. They know why it’s important venturing into Frick Park, Miss Dessell being the professional word that scien-
to stay in the trail and to “respect nature” noticed a young garter snake right beside tists use to describe poop. I encouraged
and they know to put the roofs back the trail, just two feet from where we the kids to use the word scat since they
on the pill bugs’ houses. Students did were young scientists. Aside from more
very well practicing quiet observation scat sightings, we found mayapples,
using their ears and eyes. One time, garlic mustard, and other signs
Mrs. Brunger’s class was so quiet; I of spring breaking through the
thought birds were going to perch on our ground. It was a great hike with
heads! The teachers did a fantastic job great conversation. The follow-
of coming up with cool activities that ing week, I went out with Miss
incorporated the environmental studies Raimondo’s class again. I was
curriculum into the outside time. Some pleasantly surprised to hear one
of my favorites were finding things that little girl say, “Look Miss Amy, dog
were one foot long with paper feet rul- SCAT”! And, again, pleasantly sur-
ers and using magnifiers to study the prised to hear half the class yell,
“tiniest things” on the ground within “MAYAPPLES” when we passed
a pipe cleaner circle. Other times, some I didn’t even see!
just loose observation walks to the Although I’m looking forward to the
stream led to the most awesome summer, I’m going to miss sharing
discoveries. summer’s outside progression with
There were many highlights on the the students and staff. I’m confident
hikes; things I know will be remem- that the kids will be looking and lis-
bered by teachers and students tening on their own and perhaps get-
alike. On a casual hike with Ms. ting even dirtier on family outings! I’m
Handron’s 2nd grade class, we already looking forward to next year!
Lenore P. Wossidlo
Group Manager & Mother
7457 McClure Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15218
412-480-7473 cell PUBLISH YOURSELF NOW. WE MAKE IT EASY.
WORLD-CLASS, EARTH-FRIENDLY WEB HOSTING.
www.discoverytoyslink.com/lenoremomkjpj RELIABLE SERVERS AND TOP NOTCH SUPPORT.
“Serving the Developmental Needs of the Whole Child” P A I R . C O M
questions Get to know an ECS community member better through 5 inane
questions...this month, Melissa Raimondo, Kindergarten
1. What is your favorite item in I’ve never eaten there and I’ve heard it’s 5. Preferred caffeine-delivery
your classroom? delicious! beverage? (Or are you naturally
Ellie, my guinea pig. I love her! 3. Most surprising moment so far
at ECS? Coffee...mild blend with a shot (or 4) of
2. If you could have lunch with any
hazelnut and cream! Mmmm. Haha...but,
Pittsburgher, living or dead, who Oh, wow! Let me see...I was very
I’m pretty energetic on my own too!! :)
would it be and where would you surprised to find out Ms. White would
eat? not be coming back. We will miss her!
Hmm, great question! I think I would like 4. What songs do you belt out in the
to have lunch with Mr. Rogers. I actually car, when no one is listening?
was fortunate enough to spend a bit of
How did you know I belt out songs in
time with him growing up, but now as an
the car? Have you been following me?
adult/teacher I think having lunch with
Haha. Just kidding. I sing along with
him would be really fun! I would definitely
pretty much any song that is on the radio.
pick his brain about a number of things.
Some of my favorites are: Bob Marley
What a great man he was! I would like
and Justin Timberlake.
to have lunch with him at the Frick...
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A seasonal recipe from John Lash Jon
Letter, from page 4
Our educational partnerships continue
INGREDIENTS: 1 cup chopped dates to expand as our “place based” environ-
mental curriculum grows in sophistica-
6 cups rolled oats 2 cups assorted dried fruit tion. Over the summer, all elements
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1 Tbsp. Salt of our EE curriculum will be reviewed
by leaders in the field of environmental
1 cup wheat germ 1 cup honey
education to provide important critical
1 cup coconut 1/3 cup molasses feedback. As we wind down the year
in academics and instruction, we are
1 cup chopped nuts 2/3 cup canola oil
forging ahead in the development, refine-
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal 1/3 – 1/2 cup cinnamon ment and enrichment of our environmen-
3/4 cup raisins 1/2 cup hot water tal education program. With an added
environmental specialist on deck for the
3/4 cup golden raisins 2009-2010 school year (Laura Micco),
and new projects with partnering organi-
zations on the horizon, our environmental
TO PREPARE: program will continue to create engaging
experiences for each of our students.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
This summer, faculty will be working to
Combine dry ingredients, then add wet until thoroughly combined. Bake on develop more fully integrated units that
cookie sheets until done, at least 20 minutes, stirring every 5 or 6 minutes. reflect the content and concepts of focus
in our five-unit EE curricular program,
and additional supplies and resources
will be added to the science education
classroom to enhance outdoor investiga-
tions. We look forward to beginning the
2009 school year with children ready to
explore the Pittsburgh urban landscape!
Final note: This year our school dealt
with the devastating loss of both Kate
and Peter Ambrusko. During those
difficult days and subsequent weeks it
became apparent how powerful and
supportive our school community has
become. We continue to think about
Kate and Peter and take comfort in
working with Mrs. Ambrusko to ensure
Kate and Peter’s wish for a playground
becomes reality here at ECS.
Summer reading for Parents and Teachers
Not the typical summer reading list, each of the food chains that sustain us– fast, to mimic adult sophistication while
this one includes non-fiction books that whether industrial or organic, alternative secretly yearning for innocence. Elkind
address some of the core concepts or processed–he develops a portrait of offers parents and teachers insight,
of environmental education. The PCO the American way of eating. The result advice, and hope for encouraging healthy
Library Committee selected is a sweeping, surprising exploration development while protecting the joy and
these books because they of the hungers that have shaped freedom of childhood.
give us all the opportunity our evolution, and of the profound
Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Chil-
to learn about some of implications our food choices have
dren the Freedom We Had Without
the issues vital to healthy for the health of our species and
Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore
childhood. Enjoy! the future of our planet.
Last Child in the Coming this fall: The Omnivore’s How come we had so much more free-
Woods: Saving Our Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets dom when we were kids? How can we
Children from Nature- Behind What You Eat. This young give our kids that freedom now? In this
Deficit Disorder by readers’ adaptation of Pollan’s funny, fed-up book, Lenore encourages
Richard Louv famous food-chain exploration parents to let their kids be kids. She’s all
In this groundbreaking encourages kids to con- for helmets and car seats but
work, child advocacy expert Richard sider the personal and insists children do not need a
Louv directly links the lack of nature in global health implications of security detail every time they
the lives of today’s wired generation– their food choices. go outside. The book reads
he calls it nature deficit–to some of the like a conversation with your
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
most disturbing childhood trends, such funniest, most honest friend.
by Barbara Kingsolver,
as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Readers will find themselves
Camille Kingsolver, Steven
Disorder, and depression. Environment- laughing out loud while shed-
based education dramatically improves ding their fears. For anyone
Bestselling author Barbara
standardized test scores and grade point who remembers the days of
Kingsolver brings us her first
averages and develops skills in problem walking to school, playing
nonfiction narrative that will
solving, critical thinking, and decision outside, or eating a kernel of
open your eyes in a hundred
making. Even creativity is stimulated by unwrapped candy corn–and
new ways to an old truth: you are
childhood experiences in nature. Parents longs to bring them back to childhood–
what you eat. Hang on for the ride: with
have the power to ensure that their this book is a must-read.
characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara
daughter or son will not be the “last child
Kingsolver and her family sweep readers I Love Dirt!: 52 Projects to Help You
in the woods,” and this book is the first
along on their journey away from the and Your Kids Get Outside, Get Dirty,
step toward that nature-child reunion.
industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in and Enjoy Nature by Jennifer Ward,
Sharing Nature With Children by which they vow to buy only food raised in Susie ghahremani and Richard Louv
Joseph Bharat Cornell their own neighborhood, grow it them- Oh, what fun a child can have by jumping
As Joseph Cornell’s classic book selves, or learn to live without it. Part in mud puddles, collecting bugs, and
reached its 20th anniversary, Cornell memoir, part journalistic investigation, listening to the birds! And yet, many
drew upon a wealth of experience in na- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a pas- children today have become so occupied
ture education to significantly revise and sionate case for putting the kitchen back with TV, computers, and video games,
expand his book. New nature games– at the center of family life and diversified that unstructured, outdoor play is sadly
favorites from the field–and Cornell’s farms at the center of the American diet. becoming a thing of the past. I Love
typically insightful commentary makes Dirt! is a call to parents, educators, and
The Hurried Child by David Elkind
the second edition of this special classic caregivers to help children recover one of
With the first edition of The
even more valuable to nature the great joys of childhood. Through fifty-
Hurried Child, David Elkind
lovers world-wide. two activities, readers will find a wealth of
emerged as the voice of par-
creative ways to actively engage children,
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: enting reason, calling our
ages four to nine, in
A Natural History of Four attention to the crippling
nature. Each project
Meals by Michael Pollan effects of hurrying our
is meant to promote
A national bestseller that has children through life. He
changed the way readers showed that by blur-
late imagination, and
view the ecology of eating, this ring the boundaries of
heighten a sense of
revolutionary book by award what is age appropri-
winner Michael Pollan asks ate, by expecting–or
the seemingly simple question: imposing–too much
What should we have for dinner? too soon, we force
Tracing from source to table our kids to grow up too
E-day wraps up our first year
By KRIStan aBESHOuSE Drummers and storyteller Mrs. Connie I know the E-Day team is getting it right
It is hard to believe our first year is wrap- Robinson. They also spent an afternoon when I hear on a daily basis, a child say
ping up in E-Day, the extended day pro- deep in Frick Park with Creek Connec- to their parent, “Oh… I’m not ready to
gram at Imagine ECS, and what a year. It tions, exploring the marsh and its effects go!” or “You’re here already?” and as
has been a true pleasure to spend the af- on the park. good parents do, they patiently wait in
ternoons with the children, and watching the hall to allow their children to finish that
We also had fun for fun’s sake, with a
them grow and mature over the inaugural clay pot, or dance the last Charleston,
celebration or two. We hosted a wel-
year has been a gratifying experience. prior to yelling good-bye to their friends.
come back to school party in January
As I reflect over the year I am delighted and a Harry Potter themed day with a
by all the fun times we have shared with special magic show by Hagrid (aka Mr.
the children in E-Day. The E-Day kids Kaufman). This spring the children were
have had numerous hikes and soccer treated to a live cooking demonstration,
games; created clay pots and bird feed- and had the opportunity to taste sautéed
ers; examined bugs and even a juvenile organic dandelion greens along with iced
garter snake; played recycle relay and dandelion tea as a wrap up to native
musical chairs to live banjo music; have plants week.
put on a puppet show and danced the This first year in E-Day has been ex-
Charleston. ceptional due largely to the dedicated
E-Day has even had its share of special and talented team. Each person has
events to enrich the program. The chil- strengths that round out our program
dren were both entertained and educated and a joy for life that they bring to E-Day
during a performance by Umoja African every day.
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Kate and Peter ambrusko, remembered
Kate Ambrusko, a first grade student at ECS,
and her younger brother Peter died in an
automobile accident on April 6th, 2009.
The ECS community and family and friends
of the Ambruskos gathered to plant two trees
at the school in memory of Kate and Peter.
Their mother, Amy, is pictured here shoveling
dirt on one of the trees at the planting.
The Kate and Peter Ambrusko Memorial
Fund has been established by the family to
benefit the school. Memorials may be made
to The Kate and Peter Ambrusko Memorial
Fund and sent to The Environmental Charter
School at Frick Park, 829 Milton Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15218 and marked to the
attention of Mr. Jon McCann, Principal.
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Celebrating Earth, Day + night
Jon McCann with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl at the Frick Environmental Center’s
Earth Day celebration.
End-of-the-year PCO Fundraising report
The PCO Fundraising Committee has Mini-grants Recipient: Kathy Hoel, Librarian
organized many successful fundraisers The PCO gives back to the school by Amount: $202.65
this year. The numbers below reflect awarding mini-grants for school supplies, 35 clip-on shelf markers for the school
money raised as of early May 2009: special projects, programs for students, library: The fiction, series, and nonfiction
Bake Sales $1200.65 etc. Mini-grants awarded as of early shelves need bookends/dividers which
Smencils $352.00 May include: will prevent the books from falling off
the shelf and will provide visual cues for
Spirit T-shirts $758.00 Recipient: Diane Karichko, 2nd grade
students browsing the sections.
Gingerbread House Event $72.78 teacher
Fall Festival $289.83 Amount: $102.39 Recipient: Jon McCann, Principal
ArtStamps $353.00 Reusable tote bags and watercolor paints Amount: $60
School Supply Kits $547.26 for an Earth Day project. Five self-contained first aid kits which will
Plant Sale $2,100.00 be available in backpacks stocked for
Recipient: Kindergarten team
School Directory Ads $163.00 outdoor use and used by each teacher
Amazon.com Affiliate Program $170.30 leading a class outdoors.
3 sets of Frog Reading and Language set
Target’s Take Level R for small group centers. Recipient: Sharon McCune,
Charge of Education $64.05 2nd grade Room Parent
Recipient: Lya Laberge, Parent
Box Tops $281.10 Amount: approx. $150
Cartridges for Kids $40.35 The 2nd graders took a field trip to see
Money will be used for membership
Giant Eagle Apples for Students the musical Charlotte’s Web at Point
fees and regional costs for Odyssey of
ECS earned points to receive Park University. The mini-grant provided
the Mind, an international educational
playground equipment financial assistance for admission fees
program that provides creative problem-
to ensure that every student was able to
For more information on PCO fundraisers, solving opportunities for students from
please visit www.ecspco.org and click on kindergarten through college for the
“Support”. For more information on applying for a
2009-2010 school year.
mini-grant, please go to: ecspco.org
Providing quality printing and
copy services to community
groups, non-pro t organizations
BUSINESS CARDS NOTE PADS
BROCHURES POST CARDS
East Swissvale Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15218
AT THE WESTE RN P E N N S YLVAN I A S CHOOL F OR T H E D E A F
ECS Students give
Back to the Community to contact us, e-mail:
Throughout the school year, ECS students had several
chances to learn about the importance of giving to CONTRIBUTORS:
community members in need. Kristan Abeshouse Marla Ferrency
In the fall, the local Girl Scout troop held a food drive at Kate Luce Angell Kirsi Jansa
Molly Bennett Ailish Luedde
the school. Each classroom collected non-perishable food
Amy Bianco Felicia Turano
items and other basic necessities. This 2-week food drive Emily Escalante paul g wiegman
brought in enough donations to fill an entire minivan. The
Squirrel Hill Food Bank was very happy to receive it.
The month of December brought a new tradition to ECS: comPOSt is printed on 100% recycled paper.
Reindeer Penny Wars. Students enjoyed bringing their
loose change in every day and “voting” for teachers and
staff members by placing their coins in containers labelled
with staff names and pictures. The “winners” (those
teachers with the most pennies) donned antlers and led a
school-wide sing-along. But more importantly, all of those
donated coins were given to a family in the Imagine Schools
The Parent Community Organization newsletter of
community who experienced a tragic house fire. ECS sent
Imagine Environmental Charter School is distributed to
over $1000 to this family in Columbus, Ohio.
every family attending ECS in addition to many Partner
The Ruzanic family, led by 3rd grader Annie Ruzanic, Organizations and a broad range of community support
organized the Have a Heart Blanket Drive in February. In groups. ComPOST is also available online at
just 10 days, students donated close to 50 blankets. On www.ecspco.org
Valentine’s Day Annie and her family gave the blankets to
Family Links’ homeless shelter for youth in the lower Hill Insertion Fees:
District. Annie is hoping to be able to donate more than 1/8 pg (3 5/8” w x 2 3/8” h) ......................................$15
200 blankets next year! 1/4 pg (3 5/8” w x 4 7/8” h) ......................................$24
1/2 pg (7 1/2” w x 4 7/8” h) ......................................$42
Parent Sharon McCune, with help from Heidi Green,
full pg (7 1/2” w x 10” h) ...........................................$80
planned a sweater drive in honor of Mister Rogers’ birthday
on March 20. Over the course of two weeks, ECS families Deadlines:
and friends donated 193 sweaters which were given to All materials are due the 1st of each month for publication
POWER, the leading provider in Western Pennsylvania of in the next month’s issue.
gender-responsive addiction treatment designed specifically
for women (www.power-recovery.com). Sharon would like to Submission Guides:
turn this into an annual tradition at ECS. Preferred ad format: high-resolution, press-optimized PDF
ﬁle. Acceptable formats: InDesign, Quark, Photoshop and
Clearly, our students have many generous role models and Illustrator. For a small fee, we will design your ad!
are quickly learning the value of donating time, money and
goods to charitable causes. Thank you to everyone involved Send inquiries/ﬁles to:
in these real-life lessons. email@example.com
Imagine Environmental Charter School
829 Milton Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15218
412-247-7970 | environmentalcharterschool.org
annie Ruzanic delivering blankets donated by ECS students.