Archive results for: 10 Minutes With…

10 minutes with… Skylar

At VOCEL, teachers encourage children to share ideas, and these ideas guide our discussions and activities. This helps children internalize the concept that their ideas are important and their opinions matter. Kick back with a cup of ‘jo and join us as VOCEL children share their ideas via “coffee” chats. Today, we introduce you to Skylar…

Skylar

Good afternoon, Skylar. I’m going to interview you, or ask you some questions, and I’ll write down your responses so we can put your ideas and picture on the VOCEL blog. First, can you tell me about your family? 

“Yeah..So…we went to get a cake.”

“My family is Mommy…and Ti Ti..and my brother Jeremiah…and Uncle Manuel. Uncle Manuel tickled me, he’s a tickle bug!”

What is your favorite part about coming to school at VOCEL? 

“Mommy and Brother bring me to school in their car! I like to eat cake and share it with all of my friends.”

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

“I grow bigger and bigger like my brother. I want to be a great sister with my brother and be taller than my brother!”

What do you like about living in Chicago?  

“When the police come and save the day.”

What is your favorite food?

“Some lemon…I can drink lemon. A bagel, and chips, and I like animal chips. And DONUTS!”

10 Minutes With… Candrell (C.J.)

At VOCEL, teachers encourage children to share ideas, and these ideas guide our discussions and activities. This helps children internalize the concept that their ideas are important and their opinions matter. Kick back with a cup of ‘jo and join us as VOCEL children share their ideas via “coffee” chats. Today, we introduce you to Candrell (C.J.).

CJ

 Good morning, C.J. I’m going to interview you, or ask you some questions, and I’ll write down your responses so we can put your ideas and picture on the VOCEL blog. First, can you tell me about your family? 

“My family is Alana, Aiden, Jeremiah, Mama & one Nia. Actually two Nias. One time we was playing with Aubrey (C.J.’s baby niece).

What is your favorite part about coming to school at VOCEL? 

“I like to go to school with the new friends and Ms. Ruth and the older boys (middle school students in our co-location). I want to go to school with a lot of C.J.s at the next school.”

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

“I want to be a police officer. I want to be a fake police offer, not a real police officer because I don’t want to shoot anyone.”

What do you like about living in Chicago?  

“It has animals and trucks. And shark-dolphins. Shark-dolphins eat C.J.s. No, they eat teachers but not kids.”

What is your favorite food?

“Macaroni and cheese with hot sauce. It don’t you burn you though.”

 

10 minutes with… Daishaun

At VOCEL, teachers encourage children to share ideas, and these ideas guide our discussions and activities. This helps children internalize the concept that their ideas are important and their opinions matter. Kick back with a cup of ‘jo and join us as VOCEL children share their ideas via “coffee” chats. Today, we introduce you to Daishaun.

Daishaun series

 

Good morning, Daishaun. I’m going to interview you, or ask you some questions, and I’ll write down your responses so we can put your ideas and picture on the VOCEL blog. First, can you tell me about your family? 

“I love it when they pick me up from school, and they come to my birthday party every time. I like the houses where my different family lives. I eat at my family’s house. If my mom, Donisha, says I can eat candy, I can eat candy.”

What is your favorite part about coming to school at VOCEL? 

“I like to play with my best friends. I like to play football. People like to play football with me every time.” 

Tell me what you want to do when you grow up. 

“I want to be a military fighter in an airplane. Military fighters fly up high in the sky and can do anything they want.”

What is your favorite thing about living in Chicago?

“I like to go in Chicago with my family. I like to go everywhere, like Legoland.”

What is your favorite thing to eat? 

“Pancakes and bacon.”

Q&A: Meet one of VOCEL’s newest team members, Jamie Thomas

VOCEL is always on the look out for individuals who share a passion for quality early education and have ample experience working with young learners. Jamie Thomas brings all of that and more. Allow us to introduce you to Ms. Jamie!

Jamie

 

Tell us a bit about your background. Where’d you grow up, go to school, etc.

I grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Elementary Education. I taught in Baltimore City for a couple of years before staying home with my daughter and starting in-home child care for teachers that I knew. This grew into a love for early childhood and now it’s my professional passion.

Tell us what brought you to the VOCEL Family and made you want to be a part of the team.

I have known Kelly and Jesse for several years. I had previously opened an early childhood program in Chicago and was eager to share my experiences with them as they worked to do the same. When I decided to leave my previous position and visited VOCEL, seeing the children explore and learn and meeting team members – it became really clear to me that I wanted to be a part of what is happening at VOCEL.

Tell us what your role is and what you do at VOCEL.

I am the Director of Strategy and Operations and on-site Assistant Director. I work to maintain our licensing and funding, assist in daily operations, and am very excited to help hone our plan for VOCEL’s growth to include a birth-3 year old program.

You’ve been at VOCEL for a few weeks now. What has been your favorite moment?

It is incredibly hard to pick just one favorite moment, but I really loved when the class invited us over to sample the fruit punch they made. They called us on the office phone and the kids and teachers invited us in unison. The kids were adorably excited.

What is your favorite part of the preschool day and why?

Personally greeting each child and their family members in the morning when they arrive! It is a great time to quickly connect with each one of them daily.

Join us in welcoming Ms. Jamie to the VOCEL Family! 

10 Minutes with More Than Milk Founder, Amy Cahill

We love engaging new people in VOCEL’s work, and we’re always eager to welcome supporters. Today we introduce VOCEL’s newest partner, local non-profit More Than Milk and founder, Amy Cahill.

Tell us about More Than Milk’s Mission.

More Than Milk provides Moms with an avenue for personal growth, inspiration, and social giving as Moms generate “more than milk” through our kid-friendly volunteer experiences. We connect Moms with deserving charities, and then provide the organizations with heightened awareness, financial support and energetic & talented volunteers.

Our moms forge new friendships, get inspired and become energized in their role as a mom.  And since moms are bringing their babies and toddlers to each project, families are growing up giving back together.  We often equate volunteering with reading.  We read with our kids before they understand the words in hopes of raising life-long readers and learners.  We volunteer with our babies from a young age in hopes that giving back becomes a way of life!

Why did you found More Than Milk?

My first son didn’t sleep…so I spent hours in the middle of the night thinking about my new role as a mom.  Also, in caring for my newborn, I felt like my life was out of balance. I wanted an opportunity for continued personal growth and also felt very motivated to make the world a better place for my son.  Now that my son is 4, I really want him to see the value of being kind and helping others.  So while up with my son in the middle of the night, I came up with the idea for More Than Milk, typed ideas into my phone, and the organization was born.

What excites you about working with VOCEL this year?

As a community of parents, we see the extreme value of early education.  We see the amazing development and growth that occurs during the first few years of life.  We want the best for our kids and ALL kids in Chicago and beyond.  Our future depends on the next generation and the foundation they develop as toddlers and preschoolers.  We are excited to support VOCEL in it’s efforts to provide Chicago preschoolers with a pathway to future success.  And preschoolers walk through life with such vigor and energy – we love it!

To learn more about More Than Milk visit their website and like them on Facebook.

more than milk

10 Minutes With… Nyla

At VOCEL, teachers encourage children to share ideas, and these ideas guide our discussions and activities. This helps children internalize the concept that their ideas are important and their opinions matter. Over the next few months, we’ll share just some of their many ideas. Kick back with a cup of ‘jo and join us for our VOCEL “coffee” chats. Today, we introduce you to Nyla.

Nyla_coffee chat

Good morning, Nyla. I’m going to interview you, or ask you some questions, and I’ll write down your responses so we can put your ideas and picture on the VOCEL blog. First, can you tell me about your family? 

“They like to cook. My daddy likes to make pizza. I have my mommy, my daddy and my grandma. She like to drink coffee. We can look at their picture (on the family wall in the classroom).”

What is your favorite part about coming to school at VOCEL? 

“I like breakfast and lunch. And I like to play in the kitchen. I play with the plates and cups and bowls and baby dolls.”

Tell me about your friends at school. 

“I’m Nyala’s friend. She plays with me in the Kitchen area. Trevor, Travonte, Josiah (pointing to her friends’ pictures in the classroom), all of them my friends.”

What do you want to do when you grow up?

“Like a teacher, like you. I want to say the rules like, number one, listening ears. Number four, walking feet.”

Q & A: Meet our Director, Kelly Lambrinatos

Kelly Lambrinatos, VOCEL’s Executive Director, co-founded the organization alongside Jesse Ilhardt in 2013. Prior to working in early childhood programs, Kelly was a 1st and 2nd grade teacher in St. Louis. This week we caught up with Kelly to hear about the first few weeks at VOCEL.

Tell us a bit about your role as director at VOCEL?

“My day-to-day consists of wearing many different hats.  My three main priorities are: program operations, public funding and private funding.  Today, for example, I worked with our Head Start delegate, met with a potential foundation supporter and spent time in the classroom  assisting with rest time.  I do a lot of running around but the variety keeps me motivated.”

You were a 1st and 2nd grade teacher before transitioning to early childhood settings.  How has your elementary background helped shape VOCEL?

“I call on my experiences from being a 1st and 2nd grade teacher often.  I learned a tremendous amount about the importance of children’s social and emotional development so they can attend to school.  More than anything though, when I think about my elementary background, I am motivated to do more at VOCEL.  I know we have the opportunity to set children up for success in the short and long term at VOCEL.  We can prepare children so when they enter formal school, they can truly learn and reach their fullest potential because we’ll have laid the foundation for them to thrive academically and socially.”

VOCEL’s been open for almost three weeks now, any favorite moments?

“Just the other day I popped into the classroom during read aloud time.  I saw 15 children enthralled in the story Ms. Jesse was reading.  Their looks of joy and excitement are now a glowing memory chiseled in my mind.  This was a moment where I saw a dream realized. Our team was instilling a love of reading in our class.  Hard to beat that.”

Q&A: Meet our Program Coordinator, Denise Taylor

Ms. Denise is a native Chicagoan and is pursuing her degree in early childhood. She has three sons who have attended Chicago Jesuit Academy where VOCEL is currently located.

Tell us about your role as Program Coordinator.  What’s the day to day?

“My role as Program Coordinator varies in a number of aspects, however, my three specific functions include: classroom support, food preparation & kitchen duties and office support.”

You were the first team member to join Jesse and Kelly at VOCEL. What have the first few weeks been like?

“Being the first team member to join Jesse and Kelly was like no other work experience.  From day one, I felt like ‘this is where I am supposed to be.’ The first few weeks have not even felt like work; it actually feels like I am volunteering!  I find myself thinking of the McDonald’s jingle: ‘Ba da ba pa da, I’m lovin’ it!'”

What’s the best part of the preschool day?

“For me, the best part of the day is when I am able to comfort one of the children who finds themselves faced with the challenge of missing their mom or dad!  I am able to sit and hold them while talking to them and settling them down enough to continue participating with the rest of their friends.  Providing this comfort to children is one of the many reasons I accepted the position at VOCEL.”

Q&A: Meet our teacher, Jesse Ilhardt

Jesse Ilhardt grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, knowing from a young age that she loved working with children. Not only is Jesse a co-founder of VOCEL (alongside Kelly Lambrinatos) and Director of Education, she’s also the classroom’s primary teacher.

Before the school days get busy, Jesse sat down for a quick Q&A:

What stands out from your first year as a teacher?
“When I caught a student dropping magnetic letters into the classroom fish tank. When I asked what he was doing, he told me he was trying to teach the fish to read.”

You love story time. Favorite book to share?
“I love reading Where the Wild Things Are and watching the children act out the story. They always get such joy out of ‘Roaring their terrible roars and gnashing their terrible teeth!’”

What’s the best part of the day?
“Mealtime. I love seeing the children try new things and develop the language to be able to describe their preferences. It’s a great time for conversation among the kids. Food brings people together in a special way, and it’s no different in the classroom.”

Want more? Learn about VOCEL’s leadership team.

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Our blog is a gathering place for all things VOCEL. It's a window into our classroom, a resource for early education news, and a place to discover stories that showcase our teachers, our children and our families.

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