Santa Fe Centers Holiday Newsletter 2017


I’m wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and happy Hanukkah Holiday season.  It never seems to get old with each successive year.  The joy in each child’s face is so much fun to see.   Watching all of you as you observed your children sing at our concert was so rewarding to us all, who have had the privilege of being with them on a daily basis.

It has been a memorable year for Santa Fe as we continue to move forward in accepting new families and in exploring new resources to share with our families and continuing our push to improve our practices.

Our rooms are being rearranged to incorporate new equipment and furniture which will put a new sparkle and shine to every room.  Every change is made with the forethought and insight of how the children will benefit from it.

As we reorganize our routines and our rooms to welcome our new families and encourage independence in our children, Santa Fe is continually in the process of expanding our knowledge base in an effort to bring the best care and practices to our centers and teaching staff.  It is truly an exhilarating process.

Thank you for bringing in all the winter clothing for your children so that play time outside continues without a hitch as the children look forward to it each and every day.

We have received tremendous support from our families over the years and we value being able to care for your children. From all of us here to all of you — enjoy the brightest of holidays and we all look forward to continue the work of Santa Fe in the New Year!









Santa Fe Fall Newsletter – November 2017

My goodness, this week has been a whirlwind with all the wonderful activities.  We started the week with the New Providence Fair, very well attended by everyone from New Providence, Summit and the surrounding communities. I thank all of you for your visit to our booth and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

The Harvest Fiesta was incredible and I want all the parents to know that the teachers were amazed by the turnout and the excitement of the children was awesome.  I had a lot of help organizing the pumpkins, getting the tablecloth on, putting napkins out, serving donuts.  Those Pre K/ K students could organize any one of our parties with ease.  They also helped Noah and Ms. Meagan set out the pumpkins, set up the obstacle course and/or help Ms. Ro get that music started.

Then to just round out our week the Pre/K and the Butterfly class went to the pumpkin farm to get more pumpkins.  Hard to believe we can fit so much into one week but we did and thank you to all the parents who helped with the trip.

I wanted to spend a few moments letting all of you know that we are happy to have on board Ms. Rebecca who comes to us with a really great background in Early Childhood.  In the past few weeks I have seen and heard language that all of us can relate to from Ms. Rebecca.  Her suggestions have been top notch and her willingness to jump right in has won over Ms. Meagan, Ms. Ro, Mr. Noah and myself.  I can see that she critically looks at activities provided to evaluate what the end goal is and does this meet the need of the child or children?  Please continue to welcome her and let us know if you wish to participate in any of our activities.

In addition to Ms. Rebecca, we will also be welcoming Ms. Maria, who will be our new Assistant Director helping Marilyn and I keep it all together.  She will start on Monday so many of you will get to meet and greet her as we celebrate Halloween. Here is a message from Ms. Maria herself:

Hi Santa Fe Friends! My name is Maria Clifford. I am an Educator, a Mother and Wife. My background is in Communication and Linguistics. I started out in a corporate office as a Communication Specialist and found it was not fulfilling. I have always loved children and found that I wanted something more in life. I pursued my Education degree and started working for a daycare. I love it! I have been so fulfilled in these past years and hope to continue to help educate children so they may enjoy life to its full potential. I hope to become close with all my families here at Santa Fe and become part of your family.

Once again, thank you so much for your support and for your hard work as we continue to care for your children.







Santa Fe Centers – End of Summer Newsletter

This has been the most pleasant of all summers. I certainly hope all of you got to enjoy the warmth of our NJ summers. Dudley and I have had the pleasure visiting Connecticut several times as we watch our granddaughter grow. Just reminds us of watching all of your children–it never ceases to amaze us how quickly they mature into such wonderful people. 

I wanted to fill you in on some changes. As you all know Cindy has left to be a full-time grandma and she is having a wonderful time! I will be seeing lots of pictures this week as she has already made a few trips to Canada and Chicago. Hard to be so far away, I am sure. 

As most of you may know, I wanted to clarify that Meagan will assume the role of Head Teacher at the Pre-K site (a position Cindy had been doing for many, many years). The responsibilities of the Head Teacher are to ensure the implementation for the center’s child development and activities program for all children in the Pre-K building, and to ensure the appropriateness of all program activities are run according to both the age and developmental level of the children. This position requires the Head Teacher, an advocate for the school, teaching staff, and children to openly discuss and observe the purposes for any program activities taken place at the center. This will include that of working collaboratively with staff members for all groups of children in the building, as well as sharing experiences with the Infant Toddler teachers. In addition to Meagan’s position change—she will still be the Kindergarten Teacher. 

We will also be welcoming two other new individuals to the centers, Margaret Manse as Pre-K Lead Teacher and Amber Oksuz as the Cuddly Cubs Coordinator at the Infant Toddler site.  

Margaret has come to us with a BA in Education and additional work towards a master’s in Early Childhood. She has been teaching children between the ages of three and seven for a combined total of twenty years. “I look forward to being a part of the Santa Fe family. As I work with the children, I look forward to exploring, creating, and building foundations for them that will last for many years. We will work together to build on their cognitive and social skills that will help them to be independent problem solvers”- Margaret. 

Amber has come to us with a Dual BA in Elementary Education and Special Education K-6, as well as gained additional experiences in Early Childhood working as a Collaborative Teacher, Shadow Teacher, and Assistant previously with students 3 months – 7 years old. She is a highly adaptable, energetic, and compassionate individual who has spent the previous 8+ years in the education field through her studies in child development, material exposure and play-based learning, and sought numerous professional development opportunities that have helped align her beliefs in the field.

“I am excited to be returning to the Santa Fe family! This is a great opportunity where I am motivated and ready to share my experiences and methodologies to help locate developmental milestones achieved, strengthen cognitive capabilities and many more with the wonderful staff as well as add a new element of inspiration to the centers. It has grown tremendously! My aim is to continue providing supports all-around to the ITC staff and advocate for the continual growth of the student’s capacity for learning through their many key explorations and experiences as proactive thinkers. We can work together to promote their individual interests and strengths as the remarkable individuals they are”

– Amber

Amber is and has always been one of those who strives the best for all children. I am excited to have her on board. With the increasing numbers of infants and toddlers asking to come into Santa Fe, I have hired Amber to work as the Cuddly Cubs coordinator to work with Anne and her staff to coordinate our ongoing activities to bring about more sensory explorations and creative experiences for our little ones. She will work alongside Annie to assist in transition from one area to the next.

Furthermore, we will continue to make outside time paramount in terms of our children’s activities, encouraging hands-on and creative opportunities for active learning and personal growth. You as parents are encouraged to look at all aspects of what we do, comment, suggest. We hope you will take the time to get involved! Mike Kestin did just that recently. He taught all of us how to tie dye a shirt with enthusiasm. Their shirts are beautiful. Thanks so much for your time, your expertise as you shared this wonderful experience with our children. Please come back next year for a repeat performance! 

Lastly! We want to ensure that everyday items can be turned into works of art. So please feel free to save everything for us and contribute!! We kindly ask that items be placed in a bag and dropped off in the office. We can most definitely utilize these items (e.g. lids, toilet rolls, empty wipes bins, jars, plastic bottles, etc.) and repurpose them as works of art.




September 2015 Newsletter

The beginning of school is always filled with paperwork for the start of elementary school and I know it is time consuming to get to everything but becoming an active part of your child’s school days will lead to rewards in the future.  So stay involved with whatever you can do so that you get to know the children, parents and the community.

Here at Santa Fe we do send out news from the older classrooms every week and periodically from the younger groups.  Please read and ask questions of your children to encourage the development of speech as well as critical thinking as they continue to mature.  I do try to send out a newsletter every 1-2 months to keep all of you informed about the overall centers as well as the individual rooms.  Continue reading


March/April 2015 Newsletter

Everyone certainly enjoyed the warmth of the weather in the 60’s on Monday.  I know that I certainly did and I cannot wait for more.  The flowers are starting to come up in front of the PK Center’s front porch as well as the edges of my front walk.  I cannot wait for the start of the growing season and neither can Mr. Dudley.  Jeremy and Dudley started cleaning out the area for our garden last weekend.  I am really lucky to have him retired with plenty of time to help with all aspects of the daycare.  Everyone sees him doing his yardwork but not everyone gets to see him put a baby to sleep or help to feed a child who is just not taking food from us.  He has been called the “baby whisperer” in the past and he looks like he hasn’t lost his touch. You will see him around more helping with the walks across the street as well as the summer camp walks all over town.  Of course, all of you saw him quite a bit this winter as we worked very hard to keep the centers open as much as we could.

This week (April 13-April 17) we are celebrating your children.  It is “The Week of the Young Child”.  As many of you know from previous years, NAEYC celebrates internationally by encouraging all who care for the young child.  So from Monday through Friday, we will be doing the following:

Music Monday — look for new music in each room – all rooms should be playing only children’s music created for infants through preschool.  Classical music is also encouraged.

Taco Tuesday — nachos would do as well.  Just the consistency and crunchiness makes it exciting for a child to touch let alone taste

Work Together Wednesday — everyday in our classrooms children work together — ask your child how they helped each other today.

Artsy Thursday — creative art work is the big excitement and you will see this in every room.  Let’s see what the Cuddly Cubs has in store for us.

Family Friday — again this week is to celebrate your children as a part of an incredible family.  Your children need to know that they are unconditionally loved and cared for by all of us.

Ending the week with Family Friday was done on purpose so that you as a family could donate a book to be given to children who do not have books in their homes like we do.  Last year, we donated it to the Hillside Food Bank but I have learned of another charity who works to support the single mother and her child or children.  Please find a book either new or slightly used that your child and you could give to someone less fortunate.  I know that your generosity will certainly be appreciated.

Each and every day we commit to you and your family the opportunity for your children to experience the outside environment, to enjoy sensory experiences, to move freely in an uninhibited environment so that their development is encouraged in a natural and authentic fashion.  In order for us to continue our facilitation of this growth, we wish to partner with you at every opportunity to insure maximum growth both physically, emotionally, socially and neurologically.  Your responsibility is an awesome one but we are here to work with you.

A topic of increasing importance and critical for the emotional growth of your child is the concept of resiliency.  Today it is crucial to help develop skills to empower your child from within to weather the challenges of the current happenings as well as the future.  Allowing your child to experience challenges, withstand stress and adversity and follow through by finding solutions to their challenges helps your child experience their competence and capabilities as they handle each issue.

Now what should you expect from the teachers with regard to the above?  It is important for us to provide what is known as a YES environment.  What does this mean?? It means that the expectations and the routines are age appropriate so that the children do not experience frustration but rather experience success as they participate in our activities.

The article below “Creating a YES environment” is from Community Playthings and can be found at:  

When a classroom environment is set up so that teachers have to constantly say “no” to the children, it is stressful for everyone. The teacher stops being a facilitator of the children’s play and learning, and instead becomes a police officer, monitoring what the children can and cannot do. To reduce this stress, a classroom must provide an environment where the children are able to feel successful through opportunities to explore without the limitations of adult expectations.

The following is what I expect from the teachers as they work with your children:  At the end of this session you will note the author of these sentiments.  Many of you have heard us discuss these elements for years and we need to make sure that this is occurring in every room.  A philosophy which includes these factors will encourage the resiliency your children need to succeed in this ever changing world.

There are four important parts to a “yes” environment: respect for the child, process instead of product, opportunities for risk-taking, and the teacher’s role in the classroom. Being thoughtful and intentional about implementing these qualities in the classroom allows for less stress and more success, for both the children and their teachers.

Respect for the child

It’s important to know where your children are in their development. You can then set up the classroom accordingly, providing areas or activities at which they can be successful without the assistance of an adult. Doing this shows that you have respect for what the children are able to do. Of course, giving them a few challenges isn’t a problem—but it becomes a problem when the children feel like they have to ask the adult to do it for them.

If you put a child onto a tricycle, he isn’t going to learn how to get onto it himself. The next time, if you aren’t there, he’ll be frustrated about doing it on his own. Children will eventually learn to use materials and equipment once they reach the developmental stage which allows them to navigate those things. If they become dependent on us to do it for them, they won’t feel successful doing an activity that is beyond their skill level.

Process instead of product

In creating an environment of success, it is crucial to offer open-ended activities and not expect a particular end result. Children need opportunities to explore materials in their own way, at their own pace. They need to be allowed to make messes and make mistakes.

When a young child begins to paint off the paper and onto the easel or tray, it’s hard to resist saying, “Don’t paint on the easel,” or, “Paper is for painting.” When you focus on the process, though, you see that the child is learning about how the paint and the brush work and where they make marks. Ask yourself: does it matter if the easel gets messy?

Opportunities for risk-taking

Children need opportunities to climb and run, to get messy and get wet. Fortunately, they’re still small, and if they fall down, they’re close to the ground. Falling probably scares them more than it does injury to their bodies. While you can do your best to prevent hazards, you can’t ensure that children will never get hurt. You can be there to help if they do get hurt, but you shouldn’t hover.

If a toddler wants to climb up the ramp onto the climbing structure, and you’re not sure how she’ll manage, be nearby in case she needs help. Don’t place her onto the ramp or pull her down if she seems stuck. Don’t tell her, “No, that isn’t safe.” Doing so sends the message that you will always be there to move her onto and off of the ramp and that she isn’t capable of climbing the structure. If she never falls, she never learns how to hold on tightly, how to balance her body, or how to catch herself if she slips.

The teacher’s role

The most important role of teacher in a “yes” classroom is as facilitator. In this role, teachers give guidance and partner with children in their learning processes. This takes the emphasis off the teacher’s agenda and puts in on what children are doing and how the teacher can assist them.

If you’re feeling that the children are “out of control,” reflect on what is happening in that moment. Often, a teacher’s expectations of what should be happening don’t match where the children are developmentally and temperamentally. Rather than expect children to sit still for a story at circle time, you might have to change your own thinking in order to meet the children’s needs in that moment. If some children want to run, give them the option to run before the story—or excuse them from the circle altogether, which gives them an opportunity to run while the remaining children hear the story. What if no children want to sit still for a story? Perhaps it isn’t the right time, and you can try again later.

Teachers set up the classroom, create the schedule of the day, and plan the curriculum. We also have to be flexible because the classroom is for the children. The focus should be on what the children want to do. If we try to control too many elements, it becomes easy to feel “out of control” and stressed out. In those moments, it might be best to take a breath, maybe laugh a little, and understand that it’s time to try something different.

Creating a “yes” environment in the classroom doesn’t mean that teachers allow the children to do whatever they want. It means that we have patience for the children and meet their needs in a developmentally appropriate way. In doing this, we get back to what children actually want to do with their bodies. It may also mean that we push the limits of our comfort zones to get there. If it means less stress for every person in the classroom, the journey is worth it.

About the Author

Teresa Gonsoski  has  been teaching in the field of early childhood education for eleven years and has worked with all age groups, from infants to preschoolers. She has a Master of Arts in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College. She currently teaches in the two-year-old program at the Children’s Center for the Stanford Community, a parent cooperative.


Taking the above and creating this environment in your own home will lead to a much less frustrating daily routine.  Encouraging your children to do as much for themselves is to your benefit as well as theirs.  Yes, it will take some time to do this properly but it is well worth the competent, confident child that you will see emerge!!






October Newsletter

We had a GREAT turnout for the parent staff committee meeting.  Thanks to everyone for your ideas, thoughts and suggestions.  Parent teacher partnerships are paramount in encouraging the optimal growth and development of your child/children.

In “SMART MOVES — Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head”, I have found a few suggestions to help your child develop the limbic system.  Now what is the limbic system?  The Limbic system consists of 5 major structures in the brain – the thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, amygdala and hippocampus.  These structures support a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory and the sense of smell.  You can contribute to the healthy development of the limbic system by following these suggestions:

  • Bond with your child, take time and be present.  Encourage spontaneous imaginative play, wither alone of with parents/caregivers and other children.  Spend time playing, climbing splashing, crawling and spinning with children in nature, allowing them to the lead the play process.  Rough and tumble play is good for both child and parent. Allow children to create their own toys. Steer clear of non-creative, fully constructed commercial toys.
  • Read and participate with full attention when with a child.  Encourage creative, imaginative story making and play-acting.
  • Encourage and allow full emotional expression moving to rational dialogue between the ages of 3-5 year.
  • Expose children to good, consonant music.  Sing and dance with children. Encourage them to explore musical instruments and musical styles.
  • Encourage lots of movement and interaction with other children to develop playground rules, sharing and the beginnings of altruistic behavior.
  • Honor care of other people, pets and objects.
  • Encourage a sense of time and delayed gratification.
  • Discourage any TV, video games or computer until at least age 8.
  • Provide a loving, low stress environment and model rich emotional expression and stability. Model JOY.
  • Control caretaker’s stress…..

Please remember that immunizations need to be up to date so please make sure that you have given your latest ones to the office.  If you have any questions, let me know.

Again, if you have questions about our programs please just let me know.  We did meet with the Professional Development Coordinator for the Quality Rating & Improvement Project.  At our initial meeting we went through the education of our staff, the acceptance of High Scope as our research based curriculum and what further steps we should start with as we continue our professional growth.



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Santa Fe Centers Activities


Our comprehensive and thoughtfully planned daily activities provide:


* Sensory stimulation for optimal brain development

* Connection with nature

* Artistic outlets for experiences, ideas, and emotions through drawing, painting, singing, movement and dramatic play

* Communication/language development and vocabulary expansion

* Emerging muscle development through whole body use during play

* Development of curiosity, creativity and initiative

* Scaffolding of self- and teacher-initiated activities

* Active intellectual stimulation and involvement of children of all ages and stages of development

* Opportunities to develop problem solving and critical thinking

* Respect for individual and family culture, values, preferences and opportunities to share their experiences

* Development and support of trusting relationships with adults and peers

* Joyful environment to connect with the fun of learning

* Development of the foundation for lifelong learning through basic pre-academic skills

* Opportunities to learn and practice positive social interaction skills with adults and peers

* A continuum of development of self-help and self-care skills leading to self-confidence, competence, self-reliance and resilience

* Flexibility to adapt the schedule to take advantage of changes in the school day, weather, or the interests of the children and their families



Spring/Summer Parent/Staff Newsletter

Did not think I would do a newsletter so soon but a few items needed to be discussed so here I am. I was hoping to find a few tennis players in the group as we have been using used tennis balls to save our vinyl flooring and a few of the classrooms could use a few more for the bottom of our chairs.  If anybody has any you are no longer using or are not functioning as tennis balls, please send them our way.

It is the beginning of planting season and your children have been helping Mr. Dudley to start his wide variety of plants so you may hear some discussion about Mr. Dudley in the back yard.  For those of you who do not know Mr. Dudley, he is my retired husband who is now having a lot of fun saying hello to our children or having them “help” him with his work.  Your children bring a lot of joy to a lot of people not just the teachers but people like Mr. Dudley.  There will be an area by the fence for all the children to prepare and plant their seedlings.  When I asked one of the 2.5 year olds what the plants would need, I was told water, soil and sun in that order.  Would you have known that at 2.5??  I am not sure that I would have and my father farmed here in Union County.

The men from the fire monitoring company had a great time stepping around the Walkie Talkies to get to our sprinkler system and with a lot of smiles and patience were able to complete their inspection of all of our equipment which is in tip top shape.

Our state inspector came by for a follow-up to our renewal of our licensure for the Pre K and as always just commented on the incredible back yard we have and how lucky these children are to spend so much time outdoors.  Many of you know that the new regulations require much more outside time than in the past and this is great for all children as you know by hearing us talk about our philosophy and just the general need for all of us to commune with nature more.

Since many of us take this time to go through the winter clothes and check out the summer clothes for our families, any items that appear to be appropriate for dress up we would love to take off your hands.  Please know that if we do not use them and I think others can, I donate to the New Providence United Methodist Church Thrift Sale or the clothing drive run by the high school.  Do not forget us as you start your spring cleaning.  It is like Christmas when we get these exciting items.

Please take a look at the Independent Press of May 7 as we have an article discussing “Movement and activity crucial for all infants and toddlers.”  Some of you were present at our education meeting that was done by Eleanor Campbell, PT.  We really love to learn as much as we can to help your children and your family as we want to share to help you as you enjoy your role as parents.

Enjoy the upcoming warm weather.






SFC Spring Newsletter 2014

Parent/Staff Newsletter-Spring 2014 


Spring is finally upon us and I can just feel the excitement. My house is always bustling in the mornings and afternoons with the children going up and down the driveway and up and down the hill. The activity sheets that go home with you monthly, and weekly for the Pre-K room, are intended to give you a sense of what we do all day. Asking your children about the various activities will give you the opportunity to open up conservation about their day. Please ask your children what is happening. Yes, even the Cuddlers room as it is so important for you and the teachers to constantly talk to the children.

Since we are so lucky to have an acre of land across the street, we decided we needed to share this land with the children from the IT center. Periodically we will be taking the children on field trips to visit the PK center where they can run and run and run. With the infants they will have the opportunity to sit on a quilt on the grass so that they can watch the other children if they are not moving that much themselves. Several of our Pre K children have been digging up the earth in preparation for the planting season, which is just around the corner. When they find an earthworm, everyone gets a chance to look and see.

Celebrating our children is what we get to do everyday but not everyone in the world is so blessed. I really want to thank all of you for your generous contributions of books to the Hillside Food Bank. This is a great opportunity to help your children recognize the joy of giving. I will be gathering the donated books for delivery Easter week. These books were gathered to acknowledge the Week of the Young Child, which was last week. The National Association for the Education of Young Children has been making this an annual celebration for several years. The purpose is to educate the community about the need and the importance of early childhood education.

This week on Wednesday, we will have an education session with Eleanor Campbell, PT, who will discuss the need for babies to move. Her presentation starts at 6 pm and she will encourage questions.

At the annual Advisory Committee of the Junior League, a monumental need for the City of Summit and our surrounding area is the need for Latino children to be part of a Pre school/ Pre K. Because of the cost, transportation difficulties, language barriers many are not able to participate. Being a part of the Junior League has shown me how powerful and influential a group of woman can be. They ask for a report from me with respect to the Catch activities that they helped to bring to our school at Santa Fe.

Please remember that we as a school march in the New Providence Memorial Day Parade and we then enjoy a barbecue in my backyard. We ask those who are participating to come in a red or blue shirt to celebrate the holiday. Each family brings brings either an appetizer, salad or dessert and you just relax and enjoy the day. Tickles the clown will be there and she has been the center of our entertainment for years with her animals and various tricks. It is a great opportunity for parents to meet others who have been with us for years and to meet parents from the other center. The parents of the Cuddlers do not get a chance to talk to parents of children who are in the older classes. Dudley, my husband, will man the barbecue and frequently makes one of his Philippine dishes which he is known for here in New Providence and elsewhere.

You will also see us on Sunday, June 8th, at the 5 K walk run in support of the Sharing Network here in New Providence. More details to follow.



SFC Newsletter 2013 – CATCH Program

SFC Newsletter 2013 


The CATCH Program – CATCH stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health


The Junior League of Summit has generously helped Santa Fe to become part of the CATCH Program which I thought was nationwide but apparently is now going international.  This program is provided to us with the goal of improving the health of our children through education and planned gross motor activities.  We have been given approximately $2000 of gym equipment which augments the activities suggested by the CATCH Program.

The curriculum guides — workbook and printed cards — takes the teacher and children through a variety of activities designed to help “catch” the enthusiasm of our children and to nurture their love of movement.

This vision is accomplished through:

  • Offering a wide variety of movement experiences and opportunities
  • Providing children a safe place to be themselves and develop skills at their own pace
  • Promoting physical development by giving children opportunities to practice and refine their motor skills
  • Developing fitness by engaging children in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

In addition to actively moving, the children will be actively learning about good nutrition and how to stay healthy with a good diet by identifying the GO and WHOA foods which are identified as such:

GO foods are nutritious and give us energy.

WHOA foods are not nutritious and will slow us down.

Activities and lessons are provided to teach to accomplish the above.

As we get this program started throughout the summer months we will be working to incorporate these activities into our monthly activity sheets starting in September.

Any questions, please contact Jane or Cindy who went to the CATCH training program.  We want to thank Kristen deGrandpre for getting us in touch with the Jr. League and also a huge thank to the Jr. League for their generosity.



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