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May-June 2011

Federation News

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Seeger helping to bring Kindergarten back to Fruit and Flower One Local leader’s idea helps youngsters beat enrollment obstacle--and leads to increased jobs. Naomi Seeger, Local 3432 (WVCCF) member and former Local president, is developing a Kindergarten program at Fruit and Flower Child Care Center in Portland. The program will service students whose birthdays fall after the August 31, eligibility deadline for public school. The program will create 1.5 new positions at the school in the beginning, with possiblity of additions in the future. Fruit and Flower ended their Kindergarten program years ago, because of lack of interest. That has changed in the past several years because of the revised cut-off date from December to September 1. Seeger said she brought the idea of revitalizing Kindergarten to the employer based on conversations with concerned parents. “I had a lot of parents talk with me about how to keep their children with late birthdays challenged. The idea for adding Kindergarten sprouted from those conversations.” Fruit and Flower’s Executive Director Rhonda McDowall and the Board embraced Seeger’s proposal, and asked her to serve as the head teacher. Based on the size of the available classroom, enrollment will be limited to 10. According to Seeger, 14 children are signed up. She has been told if next year’s class is a success, there will be opportunity for expansion. Seeger, who plans to eventually pursue her masters and teaching credentials, said the Kindergarten program is a win-win for everyone, and a great opportunity for her and other teachers. “My degree is in elementary education, so I’m excited to get this rolling,” she said. “It will also give my assistant teacher and other employees in the future an opportunity for professional growth and development.” Seeger has also found, in connecting with the Oregon Department of Education, that students who complete the Kindergarten at Fruit and Flower will have the option of either repeating Kindergarten in public school the following year, or testing into First Grade. The program also highlights the importance of a child’s early education and the teachers who serve them. “We want the public to see that we are educators who are building the foundation that will carry these children through their school years and their lives,” said Seeger. In addition to planning lessons for the fall, Seeger has also proposed an intensive summer program for children who will enter public school next year, including a series of field trips to complement studies. “We’ll visit the zoo when studying the animal unit; a trip to the beach to study beach and rivers,” she said. “For the cooking unit, we’ll pick berries then use the fruit in recipes.”

Naomi Seeger assists students with an art project in her class at Fruit and Flower Child Care Center.

Seeger honored with AFT Worthy Wage Quilt Naomi Seeger (Right in Photo), Local 3432 (WVCCF) was honored with an AFT Worthy Wage Quilt. Seeger was recognized for taking initiative at her workplace, Fruit and Flower Child Care Center to reinstitute a Kindergarten program to accommodate children whose birthdays fall after the August 31 public school eligibility deadline. AFT Vice-President Loretta Johnson (Left in Photo) was in Oregon to present Seeger with the award and to commend her for her hard work. “You are an example of what our Worthy Wage Program is all about. You are a true Everyday Hero,” Johnson told Seeger. May 1, 2011, marked the 20th annual Worthy Wage Day, created by the Center for the Child Care Workforce, a project of the AFT Educational Foundation. The day highlights the importance of early childhood education and the dedication of the workers who care for our community’s youngest citizens.