Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Upcoming workshop aims to support, inspire school gardening in Ann Arbor

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Community Education and Recreation

It's not surprising that in a town that values locally-grown food as much as Ann Arbor, there's strong interest in school gardening. On Monday evening, March 23, the Ann Arbor Public Schools Farm to School Collaborative is hosting a School Garden Workshop aimed at inspiring first time school gardeners and supporting on-going gardeners.
Students tend the Burns Park Elementary School garden. 
Join fellow school garden enthusiasts on this Monday, March 23rd, in the Pioneer High School Annex for an evening of collaboration, creativity, networking and garden support.  

School Garden Workshop Program
5:30 pm Registration & Light Dinner (prepared by FTS partner Chartwells)
6:00 pm Welcome & Introductions

6:35 pm Breakout Session A (Choose one)
    • Sustaining a School Garden 
    • Starting a School Garden

7:05 pm Breakout Session B (Choose one)
    • Garden Funding 
    • Garden Creativity 
    • Local Garden Connections
    • Composting 

7:30 pm Networking
8:00 pm Adjourn
The event is free, but you must pre-register. 

For more information and to register, visit 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Say hello to Rec & Ed's new School Age Child Care team

Along with Rec & Ed's Lifelong Learning division, our School Age Child Care (SACC) division has also undergone staffing changes over the winter. Our new structure provides more focused customer service to the families enrolled in the SACC program. We've also added a staff person who is focused on supporting the child care staff who work day in and day out at our 18 child care sites. 

This team has over 50 years' experience in AAPS child care and shares a strong commitment to customer service for both parents and children.  

From left: Zac Brannock, Vickie Malcolm, Martha Balmer, and Angelita Jacobs

Vickie Malcolm - Manager
Vickie has worked at Rec & Ed for 31 years and has been with the child care program since its inception. She is truly an expert in providing caring, high quality child care. In this new managerial role, Vickie oversees all aspects of the child care program, and will be exploring ways to make the program even better by improving customer service and program quality. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Michigan State University and a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University. 

Angelita Jacobs - Supervisor 
Angelita also brings a wealth of experience to her new role. She started at Rec & Ed in the First Steps division and has served as a SACC Coordinator for the past 13 years. She is focused on fulfilling Dept of Human Services licensing requirements and hiring, training and supervising staff. Angelita holds a Bachelor's Degree from University of Michigan and a Master's in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University. 

Zac Brannock - Site Supervisor
We're excited to welcome Zac to the SACC administrative team! He's served as a child care site supervisor at Bach for two years and is well-versed in all aspects of providing excellent child care. In this new role, he will be providing direct operations support to staff at the sites so they can provide the best care possible to the children in their program. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from Eastern Michigan University and is currently working on a Master's. 

Martha Balmer - Office Professional 
Martha works tirelessly behind the scenes in support of the program. She's worked in SACC for eight years, always looking for opportunities to improve systems that help the program run more smoothly. She holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. 

Contact information for all of the above staff can be found on the School Age Child Care webpage. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Looking for family fun this Saturday? Come to First Steps Kid Fest!

Guest blogger Marj Hyde, First Steps-Ann Arbor Manager

“What can we offer our community,” mused our new First Steps PTO co-president, “that raises money for First Steps and is lots of FUN for families?”

The answer: “Let's throw a party with music, food and fun things to win!"

Joe Reilly
This Saturday, March 14th, First Steps-AnnArbor’s PTO presents the first annual First Steps Kid Fest featuring renowned local performer Joe Reilly. His original music is fun, totally enjoyable (even for the 100th time) and teaches children about the earth and our great state.

“We met Joe at the Leslie Science Center and loved his music so much we immediately bought a CD," said one parent. "We have been listening to his songs for over a year now and my kids love all of them."  

Win an Olaf cake
for your "Frozen" fan
Kid Fest will be held at Forsythe Middle School1655 Newport Rd. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. with healthy snacks available for purchase and a drawing for fun prizes including Hands On Museum passes, a special Olaf (from "Frozen") cake, Sesame Street Cookies and more! Our Gold Sponsors, Goldfish Swim School and Hand In Hand Music will be there too with fun activities for families before the show.

Tickets are $10 adults ($5/child) or $35 for a family of 6 in advance.  Tickets are also available at the door for $12 adults ($8/child). 

For more information and to purchase tickets in advance:

Kid Fest benefits First Steps-Ann Arbor, Rec & Ed's premier community program that supports families with children from birth to kindergarten entry.

Please help us spread the word about Kid Fest by sharing this post via your own social media. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Introducing Rec & Ed's Lifelong Learning team

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Community Education and Recreation 

I'm so pleased to introduce Rec & Ed's new Lifelong Learning (LLL) staff team. LLL's staffing structure redesign is one result of a department-wide re-organizational process that started in early 2014. Our aim is to serve the community more effectively while staying true to our core values

Lifelong Learning is closely following best practices for community education programs established by LERN, the international community education organization. For example, rather than being organized by topic, LLL is now organized by the populations we serve in the community. Our supervisors will now place more emphasis on developing community relationships and communicating directly with community members. 
From left: Nathan Dewey, Ivy Juan, Sally Searls, Victoria Cendrowski,
Seema Jolly, and Brady Peck.
Who's Who on the LLL staff
Our LLL team represents LLL's rich history of service to the community as well as fresh perspectives with the addition of two new staff people. 

Sally Searls -- Manager
With over 30 years of experience at Rec & Ed, Sally is an encyclopedia of knowledge and wisdom who also provides leadership at the departmental level. She's responsible for managing the LLL Division, including staff, programs and the budget. Sally has a Masters Degree in Education Leadership with an emphasis on Community Education from EMU. She's coordinated the Lifelong Learning division since the mid-nineties.

Ivy Juan -– Youth Enrichment Supervisor

Ivy has worked at Rec & Ed since 2004, supervising the youth enrichment classes and summer camps. In her new role, she's responsible for programming youth classes and camp for all areas, including enrichment, science, languages, arts, dance, and martial arts. Ivy has a particular interest in developing Rec & Ed's STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) programming for youth. Ivy has a Masters in Educational Leadership with emphasis on Human Resource Development from Western Michigan University.

Brady Peck -– Summer and Break Camps Specialist
This is a brand new position for Rec & Ed! With the growth in our School Break and Summer Camps, we've sorely needed a dedicated staff person to coordinate all of the camp logistics and ensure quality programming. In addition to supporting all of our school break camps and summer camps, Brady coordinates our Summer High School Volunteer Program. Brady recently graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services Administration.

Seema Jolly –- Adult Enrichment Supervisor 
Like the youth enrichment supervisor position above, this position is responsible for all Rec & Ed adult classes. Seema is your contact for art, dance, hobbies, personal enrichment, languages, cooking, martial arts, adapted and anything else for adults that you might see listed in our catalog! She holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan. Seema has experience in community-based programming and came to us from U of M where she did Research Management in the School of Public Heath

Victoria Cendrowski –- Fitness & Yoga Specialist 
Victoria has been the Fitness Supervisor for Rec & Ed since 1990, constantly bringing new trends such as paddle board yoga and hoops fitness to Rec & Ed's offerings. Victoria is also one of our most popular yoga instructors. She has a BS in Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance from EMU, along with a Teacher’s certification, plus Master of Education in Science of Human Movement with an emphasis in Personal Training from Wayne State University.

Nathan Dewey -- Program Assistant
Nate has been our Adult Enrichment site supervisor for the last year and recently took on the full time program assistant job. He's responsible for essential operations work such as phone-in registration, responding to customer requests, supporting LLL staff including instructors, and many other duties. He has a Bachelors in Biology from Boise State and graduate work in Pharmacology. 

Contact information for all of the above staff is available on the Lifelong Learning webpage.