Stony Brook Child Care Services (SBCCSI) teachers landed two mini-grants from the Suffolk AEYC (Association for the Education of Young Children) this year, making them the only two grant recipients in Suffolk County. According to Denise Masone, program director at SBCCSI, there were more applicants than usual this year.
The grants were awarded to Josefina Gallardo-Salguero and Jill Stafford, both teachers of preschool age groups, which range from 3 to 5 years of age. Josefina has been at SBCCSI for 15 years and Jill has taught there for 14 years.
Josefina’s grant will support a series of activities in the natural sciences called “Metamorphosis Investigations — Living and Non-Living.” Her students will gain hands-on experience as they care for and observe the metamorphosis from tadpole to frog and conduct investigations on plants; those that live in water and those that live out of the water. The children will have opportunities to graph observations and take photographs to document and explore the concept of metamorphosis through dramatic play and music.
Jill’s grant will support activities in the physical sciences and math and is called “Ramps and Pathways,” inspired by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) publication “Ramps and Pathways: A Constructivist Approach to Physics with Young Children.” Her students will experiment with and explore gravity, inclined planes, distance, speed and the properties of spheres. Through hands-on exploration with varying sizes of cove molding (molding with grooved or curved edges that will support items rolling on it) in conjunction with blocks and marbles they will build an array of structures containing ramps and pathways, gaining knowledge of physics, experimentation, cause and effect, prediction and problem-solving.
Both teachers put together their own grant proposals after a group conversation about the availability of mini-grants at a center-wide staff development day this past spring. The teachers are required to attend a Suffolk AEYC annual meeting in June 2013 to demonstrate what they did with the funding, presenting their work orally, by video and with poster boards.
Each year the New York State Association for the Education of Young Children awards five or six small grants in amounts up to $500 to applicants who have submitted the most effective proposals for mini-projects to enhance programs for young children. The program has been in place for 15 years and funded projects have gone to teachers and assistants, family day care providers, school administrators, consultants and college professors. Topics have ranged from parent-child relationships, home-school links, literacy in the home, curriculum development, assessment, staff and preservice training and conflict resolution.
The local chapter of the National AEYC is the Suffolk Association for the Education of Young Children.
Jill, an SBU graduate, has a master’s degree from CW Post. She came to SBCCSI as a student intern through the Child and Family Studies Program.
“The reason I love teaching science is that learning science comes so naturally for preschoolers,” she said. “Whether they are investigating what happens to marbles on various inclines, pondering why the sky is blue or observing an insect crawling on the ground, children use science to understand more about themselves and the world around them. The more of the scientific process a child owns, the more they learn, not only about what they are investigating, but also about being life-long learners.”
Josefina is also homegrown, an SBU undergraduate and graduate student. Her route to SBCCSI also came through the intern program. “As an early childhood specialist for the last 15 years, I am particularly interested in the study of early childhood education and the importance of the first five years of life,” she said. “SBCCSI has the perfect environment where children are able to explore and experiment in a way that is safe, fun and exciting for young children.”
SBCCSI Preschool Program Director Denise Masone said, “Josefina and Jill are representative of the excellence and ingenuity of the teachers educating young children at SBCCSI. Their accomplishment helps to highlight the quality of our teachers and educational philosophy. I commend them for their hard work and dedication every day as well as for going above and beyond in proposing and earning these mini-grants.”
Since the program’s inception SBCCSI has won grants for NYS family benefits, health and safety grants and training grants, SUNY operating grants, SUNY child care and development block grant. A few years ago, current SBCCSI Assistant Executive Director Kathleen Catalano was awarded a Suffolk AEYC mini-grant when she was a preschool teacher, to create a woodworking center in her classroom.
SBCCSI also was awarded a CCAMPIS (Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program) grant several years ago.
To learn more about the SBCCSI visit www.stonybrook.edu/childcare.