As a nonprofit that strives to ensure access to high-quality learning and care to all children, Wonderspring is committed to advancing diversity equity and inclusion both in our employment practices as well as our services for children. Thus, we are thrilled to announce that with the support of the William Penn Foundation, Wonderspring is working with two Diversity Fellows from Temple University’s Diversifying Early Education Leadership program (DEEL@Temple). Our new Fellows will to assist the organization in achieving its goals of:
- nurturing a culture of diversity equity and inclusion among staff
- supporting teaching practices that acknowledge and respect multiple cultures, languages and practices in the classroom
- proactively recruiting and developing the talents of ethnically diverse persons for administrative and leadership positions.
We are thrilled to welcome Diversity Fellows Sophia Ezomoghene and Omosi Anabui.
Sophia Ezomoghene is a lead early childhood literacy specialist for the Free Library of Philadelphia. She began her career in education as an AmeriCorps volunteer at an alternative high school serving older and underserved students. Later she taught prekindergarten and kindergarten at a charter school in Washington, DC. Before joining the Free Library of Philadelphia, she was a Head Start teacher for the School District of Philadelphia. Sophia earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Affairs from Northeastern University, as well as her Master’s in Education from American University.
Omosi Anabui is an Impact Manager at City Year Philadelphia where much of her work is focused on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. She guides a team of 12 young adults looking to create equitable interventions spaces that enable students who attend Forrest Elementary School to have critical conversations about race and other parts of identity. Omosi has a Bachelor’s degree in Biopsychology and has served as an Americorps Member and Team Leader.
As we embark on this critical effort, we will be soliciting the input of our families and stakeholders. We look forward to working together to ensure all voices are heard and that all of our children, families and staff are valued and engaged.
Did you ever hear the expression “play is the work of children”? Well the fact is, play is an integral part of the way children learn. Play helps children develop:
- cognitive skills – like math and problem solving in a pretend grocery store
- physical abilities – like balancing blocks and running on the playground
- new vocabulary – like the words used in imaginative play
- social skills – like playing together in a pretend car wash
- literacy skills – like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant
What’s more, play benefits children’s physical and emotional health by helping them grow strong and healthy, counteracting obesity and providing an outlet for anxiety and stress.
Undirected play also allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. It enables to practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace and discover their own areas of interest
Wonderspring recognizes the value of play as a way to tap into a child’s natural curiosity. Our programs utilize the Creative Curriculum which promotes investigation and discovery as a fundamental part of learning.
To learn more about our programs and our approach to learning click the button below.
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Your child’s social and emotional health is just as important as their physical health. Social emotional health significantly affects a child’s overall development. learning and well being. In fact, studies by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation state that an important component of early school readiness and healthy child development is meeting a child’s social-emotional needs in preschool. Moreover, they note that emphasis on social emotional learning (SEL) in preschool can enable children to thrive academically, mentally, and physically in kindergarten and through to adulthood.
At Wonderspring, promoting the social and emotional health of the children we serve is a top priority and is infused in every part of the day. Last year, through grants from William Penn Foundation and PNC Foundation, Wonderspring was able to purchase and implement the Second Step Social Emotional Curriculum at all its centers. Utilizing weekly themes songs, activities, puppets, and posters, Second Step helps children better understand, manage and express emotions and empathy, develop positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. All Wonderspring teachers have been trained on the Second Step Curriculum and receive ongoing technical assistance to help them integrate the program in their classroom routines.
Since implementing the program, teachers report they are better able to handle challenging behaviors and utilize positive behavior management strategies. They also note that the children are better able to identify their feelings and utilize a variety of calming techniques for their minds and bodies.
Angela Giuliani a preK teacher at the Narberth center is extremely enthusiastic about the curriculum. “It has improved the overall tone of the classroom,” she says. “The children are more empathetic because it helps them recognize the feelings of their friends and makes them think about ways they can help. They love role playing with the puppets and using the puppets to talk through problems. It gives them the confidence that they know the answers. Then, when we give them positive feedback for implementing what they learn, it reinforces that confidence.”
Learn more about how Social Emotional Learning is implemented in our classrooms.
Narberth, PA—Wonderspring Early Education, a nonprofit provider of high-quality, safe, convenient, and affordable early childhood education throughout Greater Philadelphia, has named Zakiyyah Boone Chief Executive Officer.
According to Surge Ghosh, President of Wonderspring’s Board of Directors, Boone’s appointment culminated a thorough search for a strong leader to move the organization forward at a time when the child care sector faces unprecedented challenges. “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate for the already fragile early childcare sector has become more precarious. Zakiyyah has the perfect mix of experience, innovation, leadership and passion to help Wonderspring not only weather this storm but empower the organization to thrive.”
Boone, who previously served as the organization’s Interim CEO and Chief Program Officer, has more than 20 years of experience as an early childhood and youth development professional. Prior to joining Wonderspring, she served as Vice President of Early Childhood at the Greater Philadelphia YMCA where she managed a budget of $20M, identified growth and partnership opportunities and ensured the appropriateness of facilities to deliver high-quality programs. She has cut the ribbon on 10 child care centers and launched multiple evidence-based youth development programs across the Greater Philadelphia region. She holds a BS in Elementary Education from Millersville University and an MBA from Kaplan University.
Since taking on the role of Interim CEO in April, Boone has successfully managed the safe reopening of the organization’s four early childcare centers and its school-age camps in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. She has also been instrumental in the development of Wonderspring’s newly constructed center in the neighborhood transformation project known as New Market West. While acknowledging the challenges posed by the pandemic, she is optimistic about the future of Wonderspring.
“Child care is critical for the recovery of our economy,” she says. “We have forged strong relationships with the families we serve and they rely on us to provide high-quality care and education for their children. Everyone at Wonderspring, from our outstanding teachers and center directors to our highly agile central administration team, is dedicated to finding innovative and safe ways to meet the changing needs of our families throughout the pandemic and beyond. To that end, we are exploring a host of ideas including onsite school-age programming for children whose schools are not offering in-person instruction.”
“As a mother of three, I am keenly aware of the impact high-quality early education can have on children and families. I am committed to not only providing that level of care to the families we currently serve but to ensuring that all children have equitable access to the highest quality of education and care.”
Wonderspring Early Education is a nonprofit organization working to develop, provide and advocate for high-quality early childhood education, school-age programs, and related services in support of all children. The organization provides direct service programs to over 1,000 children through its 10 locations within the Greater Philadelphia region.
Check out our Summer 2020 newsletter here. Click the image to access the online version with clickable links.