PIC E-Newsletter Issue 2.2
After a long, cold winter, it is great to finally see the bright green of spring grass--and even the dandelions are a welcome sight! We hope that you have some wonderful plans for the coming summer months.
Folks here at PIC will certainly be busy--and we hope that you will join us for some of the wonderful activities we have going on around here!
As always, we are here to support workforce and educational needs through ongoing quality programming! You'll find information below about some special summer programming as well.
Have a great summer! We hope that you'll make us a part of it!
Included in this issue are:
- Parent Superpowers
- New PIC Building Project Underway
- Now Accepting Applications for the 2014-2015 School Year!
- Great Summer Reads for Preschoolers
- New Adventures Await at PIC Summer Camps
- In the Spotlight: Summer Work Experience Program
- Meet the PIC Mascot--Pickles
Good schools and preschools promote children's healthy academic, physical, and social-emotional development. But in order for schools to make the most difference in a child's life, there is one partner who is absolutely essential—parents/guardians!
"From the time children are born," notes the Harvard Family Research Project, "parents influence their [children's] cognitive, social, and emotional development."
The First Eight Years, a policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, makes an even stronger statement: "Parents are both the most important adults in a young child's life and the biggest contributors to their future success."
In Head Start, we have a saying, "Parents are their child's first and primary teacher." Our Head Start, Early Head Start, PA Pre-K Counts, and Family Literacy programs in particular strive to empower parents to pass on literacy and other skills to their kids.
Having a positive effect on a child's development is simple—it just takes a commitment of time and sometimes a bit of creative thinking. For example, time spent with a parent reading an age-appropriate book can be an extremely enriching experience for a child, especially if the parent asks questions about the story throughout.
However, every experience in a child's life—even a trip to the grocery store—can be (and should be) a learning opportunity. For example, as parents and children make their way through the produce section of a store, they can count the apples being placed into a bag. They can weigh the bananas together. They can compare the sizes of boxes of cereal to the boxes of pasta, identifying which is bigger. They can spy the carton of milk that has blue lettering. They can identify the letters in the signs.
"Families can help facilitate young children's growth by creating literacy-rich home environments, taking children to visit libraries and other places that stimulate their interest in learning about their surroundings, and constantly talking to them about what they see, do, hear, and feel," according to the Harvard Family Research Project.
A child's earliest learning—even before he or she reaches a classroom—can be among the most important. It lays a foundation for what comes later on. That's why there is so much talk now about "family engagement in school readiness" and the importance of high-quality early childhood education programming. Those early years of education affect all the later years to come.
But once a child enters elementary school, it sometimes feels as if parents are left out there on their own to navigate. Programs such as the Family Literacy Program can offer parents support as they continue to be their child's teacher at home—helping with homework and school projects and providing enriching experiences, such as taking trips to the library, park, or museum.
In addition, notes the Harvard Family Research Project, "Positive home-school relationships—in which parents communicate with teachers, help out in the child's classroom, and participate in school activities—promote children's educational engagement."
As children grow, it is important to allow them to develop a sense of autonomy and independence. However, the importance of parents and family in a child's learning still continues on even in the higher grades. Even as children start pulling away and at times resisting parental involvement, parents' attitudes toward education can leave a major imprint. It is essential to keep up the conversation about the importance of school, potential career paths, and how school links to everyday life—even when kids don't seem to be very intent on listening. Being a parent through adolescence is not an easy task, but it is still a very imperative one!
Every May and June, we celebrate mothers and fathers with cards, dinner, gifts, and phone calls. Being a parent or guardian is a rewarding experience—but it is also one tough gig. Thank you to all the parents and guardians who have dedicated so much time to helping their children learn and grow! We salute you!
If you want to know more about being the first and primary teacher for your child, please reach out to us through one of the following programs:
- Head Start of Beaver County: 724-728-2110
- Family Literacy and Youth Programs: 724-836-2600 (Greensburg) or 724-437-2590 (Uniontown)
- Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County: 724-430-4818
- PA Pre-K Counts Partnership of Fayette: 724-437-2590
LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. – At a ceremony on March 13, 2014, we broke ground for a new facility in Lemont Furnace in Fayette County. The bull dozers have been busy since then preparing the property for the construction process this summer.
The new building will replace space currently rented on Coolspring Street in Uniontown and will house five Head Start classrooms, an Early Head Start socialization area, and adult learner classrooms and computer labs.
So far, we’ve focused on preliminary earthmoving and infrastructure activities. In total, it should take approximately nine months to build the facility. The current projected move-in date is this coming December or January.
The majority of our programs accept applications on an ongoing basis—and this is the case with all of our preschool programs. However, Head Start of Beaver County, Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County, and the PA Pre-K Counts Partnership of Fayette turn up the heat on their recruitment efforts this time of year.
This spring these programs all hosted special open houses to mark the beginning of taking applications for the upcoming school year. All three programs are now accepting applications for 2014-2015.
Throughout the summer, our staff will be attending events throughout Beaver and Fayette counties to continue spreading the word about our free preschool programming. We hope that you’ll keep an eye out for our tables at local fairs, community outings, and festivals and will stop by to say “hi,” learn more about the programs, and fill out an application! In the meantime, here’s a bit about the preschool programs we offer:
- The Head Start of Beaver County has classrooms and home-based services throughout Beaver County. Programming is free and open to children ages 3-5 whose family meets specific income and other guidelines. To fill out an application, you’ll need: a copy of your child’s birth certificate, proof of family income, and proof of residency (there is a homeless exception). For more information about filling out an application, please contact us at 724-728-2110. Also, feel free to stop by and see us at our administrative offices at the Beaver Valley Mall next to Macy’s.
- The Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County has classrooms and home-based services throughout Fayette County. Programming is free and open to children ages birth to 5 and to pregnant women meeting specific income and other guidelines. To fill out an application, you’ll need: a copy of your child’s birth certificate, proof of family income, and proof of residency (there is a homeless exception). For more information about filling out an application, please contact us at 724-430-4818.
- The PA Pre-K Counts Partnership of Fayette offers free preschool to children ages 3 and 4 who live in families with higher incomes than those who qualify for Head Start services. A family of four can make up to $71,550 annually and qualify for services. To fill out an application, you’ll need: a copy of your child’s birth certificate and proof of family income. Classrooms are located in four elementary schools in Fayette County: D. Ferd Swaney, Menallen, Masontown, and Wharton. We also partner with two local childcare providers at three locations to provide additional Pre-K Counts services. For additional information, please contact Rene Despot at 724-437-2590.
All three programs accept applications on an ongoing basis. The programs have a limited number of slots, and enrollment is based on a point system. However, we encourage anyone interested to submit an application—even if your child is not placed into the program immediately, those on the waiting list may be placed into the program during the year as slots open up.
Reading a book with a young child is very rewarding—both for the child and the reader! And there are all sorts of great books that are perfect for preschoolers in the summer months. We asked our early childhood education and Family Literacy staff to recommend a few summer reads. Be sure to check out these books at your local library or bookstore!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Eric Carle
The story is about a tiny and very hungry caterpillar that transitions into a beautiful butterfly. It can be very interactive and is appropriate for summer!
Recommended by Gloria Delnegro-Kosport,
Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County,
And by Donna Stash, Head Start of Fayette County,
Connellsville Home-Based Program
By Hervé Tullet
It’s about following silly directions—each page tells the kids what to do with the pages in the book. It’s a fun, interactive book that keeps little ones’ attention!
Recommended by Jennifer Sano,
Former Family Resource Instructor,
PIC Family Literacy Program in Greensburg
There is a Bird on your Head!
(An Elephant and Piggie Book)
By Mo Willems
Gerald discovers that there is something worse than having a bird on your head—having two of them! Can Piggie help her best friend? This is a fun and delightful story that will have parents and children laughing out loud!
Recommended by Brandie Miltcheva, CDE Supervisor,
Head Start of Beaver County
By Phyllis Root
On a hot, hot day, a family has to use their available resources to get to the lake in their rattletrap car. This book is funny, noisy, and hot, just like summertime!
Recommended by Stacy Culler,
Head Start of Beaver County,
CDE Supervisor, Aliquippa and Home Based
There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Shell!
By Lucille Colandro
Illustrations by Janet Lee
Don't eat that! The lady eats summer items, and then you get a surprise at the end!
In the Head Start of Beaver County program, Louise Willard said that to make the reading experience more interactive, she constructs a large lady with a big mouth out of poster board and attaches a plastic baggy by her mouth. She then makes a small paper version of whatever the main character eats in the book, and as they read about all the crazy things the lazy eats, the class puts that item in her “mouth”! The kids really get into it. They yell, "No, don't eat that!" It makes the book more fun. The kids can even take turns “feeding” her the items as the book is read.
Recommended by Louise Willard,
Head Start of Beaver County,
By Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
A parent can read the book to their little one as they sit outside looking at the moon.
Recommended by Tonia Scott,
Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County
There probably isn’t a kid out there who hasn’t faced this question at one time or another: What do you want to be when you grow up? Some kids have had a definite and unwavering answer to this question since they were five. For others, the story is much different—they don’t know where to begin finding an answer.
PIC’s New Adventures: Passports to the Future summer camps are designed to help middle school students start to explore all the potential career paths that match their skills and interests. We are pleased to be able to bring these camps to students in grades 5-7 in Fayette and Westmoreland counties this summer thanks to the generous support of the Chevron Community Fund!
The two-week camps will be held from July 14 – 24 in Greensburg and from July 28 – August 7 in Uniontown. Students will learn about concepts and skills sets related to many different types of local industries and will then have a chance to apply those skills and concepts through hands-on projects. They will also participate in games and other activities that will further strengthen their understanding of themselves and the industries they’re exploring.
New Adventures: Passports to the Future is a new addition to PIC’s highly successful New Adventures summer camp series, which seeks to bring career exploration opportunities to local youth. Past New Adventures camps have challenged students to solve real-world problems for various industries.
Building on the established New Adventures model, Passports to the Future will reach out to kids at a key point in their lives and provide fun, hands-on opportunities to figure out a better answer to one of the hardest questions out there: What do you want to be when you grow up?
For additional information about the camps, please contact Amy Dodds in Greensburg at 724-836-2600.
Starting in May, youth from throughout Fayette and Westmoreland counties will be building their resumes, learning new skills, and extending their network through the Summer Work Experience Program.
What is the Summer Work Experience Program?
The Summer Work Experience is a youth employment training program funded through the Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Board. The program is designed to provide 125 youth with enriching summer work experience opportunities and a coordinated support network that addresses employment barriers and hones work-related skills.
Youth are matched with meaningful, supervised work opportunities at municipalities, townships, state government offices, county government departments, and local nonprofit organizations.
What types of work do summer workers do?
The type of work depends on the work site; however, summer workers most often help with clerical and labor activities. In the past, summer workers have helped out with paperwork at places such as local libraries and courthouses and with maintenance at places such as local airports and townships. We work with participants to find a good match.
Who is eligible to participate?
The Summer Work Experience Program is open to youth ages 16-21 who are from Westmoreland and Fayette counties. The number of slots available for older youth (ages 19-21) is limited. Some income eligibility requirements also apply.
How long does the program run?
Summer workers are eligible to work for up to 12 weeks for a maximum of 40 hours per week. Each worker has a set schedule that is during daylight hours.
How much does a summer worker make?
Summer workers receive minimum wage. There are several additional perks, including: working a set schedule during daylight hours and building a network of business connections at local government and nonprofit agencies.
How do I sign up to be a summer worker?
To participate, you’ll need to complete an application. For additional information, please contact Lynda Marcinko in Fayette County at 724-437-2590, ext. 323, or Julia Sefcheck in Westmoreland County at 724-836-2600, ext. 219.
Do you need more work sites?
Yes—we will need work sites for at least 125 youth this summer. While we have several sites identified, we are still looking for additional locations. The first group of workers started the week of May 12, but two additional groups will be starting June 9 and July 1, respectively. If you are part of a government or nonprofit agency in Westmoreland or Fayette counties and are interested in having a summer worker at your site, please reach out to Lynda Marcinko in Fayette County at 724-437-2590, ext. 323, or Julia Sefcheck in Westmoreland County at 724-836-2600, ext. 219.
You won’t find him doing backflips in the outfield, stealing popcorn up in the bleachers, or any other antics that mascots are so notorious for, but you will spy him here and there throughout the PIC office, particularly when somebody is being honored for doing a great job.
Pickles, the PIC mascot, joined the organization in 2008—the year we celebrated our 25th anniversary. As legend has it, Pickles came to PIC us after a life at sea with the notorious pirate, Captain Elrod. Pickles was forced to take up a life on the land when he very nobly took on a curse directed at his former master.
Today, he shows up whenever a PIC employee has done something extraordinary and a fellow staffer wants to show appreciation. At PIC, we have something called doubloons—a nod to Pickles’ former pirate days at sea. Staff bestow doubloons on their colleagues when they want to honor special efforts, and those who receive doubloons are then entered to win a chance to pick a prize from a special treasure chest.
While it’s a pity that Pickles is kept from the sea—and is cursed to have bad blue hair on top of that—we’re always happy to see his smiling face, signaling a job well done.