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A Special Supplement to the Sullivan County Democrat

A look at activities in the Livingston Manor School District SECTION L, MARCH, 2017 • CALLICOON, NY


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Learning healthy eating in school, in Shandelee and in the Big Apple STORY AND PHOTO BY KATHY DALEY

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Restaurateur Sims Foster of The Arnold House and the North Branch Inn speaks to eighth graders about cool, healthy foods such as locally grown kale.

Student Cornelius Jones enjoys learning about cooking with Family and Consumer Science teacher Mary Ellen Reynolds, especially through the new “A Single Bite” program on healthy eating.

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t all began when Sims Foster of The Arnold House in Shandelee learned Sullivan County ranks among the top unhealthy counties in New York State. “We need to do something to introduce kids to good nutrition and healthy eating,” he said to Manor Family and Consumer Science teacher Mary Ellen Reynolds. Thus was born the program called “A Single Bite,” noted Sims, “and is based on the simple idea that by exposing kids to single bites of real, unprocessed foods, it might help steer them to thinking about food and the choices they make with a different filter.” “Sims graduated from here, and his parents both taught here,” Reynolds explained. “Together, he and I decided to start with the eighth grade – they are of the age before their opinions are skewed by society and when they are

most willing.” The pilot program took place this past fall. Foster and Reynolds came up with four sessions for the students. The first and second encounters invited the students to taste unusual foods they hadn’t experienced before. From The Arnold and the North Branch Inn, also owned by Foster, kids got to eat kale, smoked trout, duck and various kinds of cheeses, right at their school. Chefs Clark Hoskin (Arnold House), Erik Kineally Hill (North Branch Inn) and Aksel Theilkuhl (The DeBruce) each played a critical role in A Single Bite. “The rule was that the students wiould try the new food and not make negative comments,” said Reynolds with a smile. Student Cornelius Jones particularly enjoyed the kale chips and the duck tucked into a spring roll. “It was really fun, and really tasty,

and pretty cool,” he said. “I like making food with my mom. Maybe when I grow up, I can think about cooking some of these things.” In their fourth session, the 43 eighth graders toured the commercial kitchen at The Arnold, and finally, they took a trip to New York City to the Lambs Club in Manhattan’s theater district. There, they met with noted chef Geoffrey Zakarian and were treated to a four-course meal. “The students were greeted at the Lambs Club by staff offering cinnamon-sugared rimmed glasses filled with sparkling apple cider and an apple sliver garnish,” said Reynolds. “The chicken dish was a roasted chicken served over quinoa, and dessert was a chocolate torte.” Zakarian even signed autographs. All in all, A Single Bite was a scrumptious success. “It was a wonderful experience for the students,” said Reynolds, who also teaches a course in Global Foods and another in Food Science. “The students gained exposure to healthy new foods that they previously had not experienced. They learned about how what they ate and how much they ate correlated to their health now and in the future. They learned that their destiny for good health was in their hands and that they could eat well with locally grown food, farm to table, in Livingston Manor.”

A continuing family legacy “A Single Bite” is a reality due to the Barry Foster Memorial Fund. All costs of the program at Livingston Manor Central School were paid for through the fund, which has been supported by many generous members of our community over the years. The Barry Fund, as we call it, is a tribute to the great passion my father had for educating kids and exposing them to things that could allow them to dream about a different future. His never-ending belief that by changing one kid’s trajectory in life you could change the entire world guides this program. As owners and operators of two restaurants (soon to be three) in the county, we want to use the resources we have to effect positive change in our communities as much as we can. With Sullivan County being one of the least healthy counties in New York State, we were inspired to marry our passion for food, for farmers who produce the amazing product high in our backyards and for cooking with an effort to try do something to potentially move our county up the ladder. – Sims Foster


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he students sat silent and straight-backed in their chairs, feet on the floor, eyes closed. Slowly and quietly Principal Sandra Johnson led them through a brief experience in “mindfulness,” a newto-the-school method of calming down student minds. “Okay, now think quietly about your breathing,” said Johnson in a soft, slow voice. “Breathe in, breathe out. Just focus on your breathing.” A few minutes later, she asked the class of eighth graders to open their eyes. “What were you thinking?” she asked. “I was being calm,” said student Haley Peck. Just the point, said the principal. Johnson herself had learned about mindful breathing last year at the Austin Physical Therapy office in Roscoe. When she arrived for her appointment on a weekday, breathless and full of stress, Johnson's blood pressure registered very high.

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MARCH, 2017

Breathe in, get calm, breathe out, feel peaceful, even in class

The physical “mindful educatherapist suggesttion” – healthy ed the principal ways to help take a moment to today's students sit still in a chair concentrate, and calm down learn and thrive by doing the in the age of “anchor breath,” instant informain which one tion and multifocuses attention tasking. on the inhale and “With attention exhale of air, spans waning and observing each with stress on the breath. rise, we want to “I did it for three help kids focus STORY AND PHOTOS or four minutes,” more, concenBY KATHY DALEY said Johnson, trate more and “and she retested learn more,” my blood presJohnson said. sure. It was way down.” Together, teachers and administraShe was hooked on the health-giv- tors are studying the book “The Way ing nature of the ages-old technique of Mindful Education” by Daniel of mindful breathing, and she has Rechtschaffen. The book notes launched a project to encourage the decades of research that indicates the method in classrooms. benefits of mindfulness in social, The principal is right in step with emotional and cognitive develop-

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ment. Teachers are now reading the book and working with an accompanying workbook. Each month, several teachers develop a powerpoint and show it at faculty meetings. The book's coursework will be completed in April. Then, hopes Johnson, teachers will begin to use techniques in the classroom, such as asking students to draw pictures depicting sounds they hear, or writing about what they notice about the attentive breath. At the very least, she's asking each teacher to try just one lesson and see how it goes. All students can benefit, Johnson said, and the techniques are particularly helpful for those who have difficulty socially, or who suffer from attention deficit, or who have trouble controlling their emotional responses to certain stimuli, otherwise known as emotional deregulation. “Brains can change,” Johnson said.

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MARCH, 2017

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Principal Sandra Johnson introduces a class to the benefits of quieting down the mind, which experts say is particularly pertinent in an era of widespread student learning difficulties, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other ills.

“There are times when kids are sent to my office because they're out of control, mad or upset at various things,” she said. “I start them in on

the breathing activity, and when they're done I ask 'how do you feel?' They look at me and say 'I'm calm.'” Johnson likes to illustrate the nor-

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“Brain cells can be regenerated as a result of mindfulness.” She's had experience with the benefits already.

mally cluttered mind as a bottle of glue with sparkles dumped in. You shake the bottle, and the sparkles all start floating madly. “When the sparkles are zooming around, it's very difficult to make good decisions,” she said. But if you put the bottle down and let the whole thing rest for a while – as in the time of attentive breathing – the sparkles have a chance to settle down. “It's then that you can make right decisions,” she said. Livingston Manor is no stranger to the serenity of Zen-infused quiet time. School counselor Danielle DalCero advises Zen Kids groups for fourth, fifth and sixth graders in the RISE afterschool program, pointing the children toward the virtues of kindness and gratitude through meditation. “It's about helping them to be more aware and more present in the moment,” DalCero said.


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SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

MARCH, 2017

Popular Pre-K program doubles in size STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATHY DALEY

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rom social skills to the life cycle of plants, it’s all there in the education of the very youngest children as pre-kindergarten teachers usher four-year-olds onto a path of lifetime learning. “Pre-kindergarten is especially important,” says teacher Shyla Carlson. “It sets the foundation for the rest of the children’s careers. My main goal is to make learning fun for them – they play, sing, dance and have a good time – and don’t even know they’re learning science or math.” Livingston Manor Central School’s popular Pre-K program has doubled in size over the past year and a half. In September 2015, the district opened the program to all – previously, the Pre-K accepted only children whose family income was low enough to make them eligible for Title I funds through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Parents not eligible had to put their youngsters on a waiting list. “Now, using general funds [from the school’s actual budget], we are able to welcome all students,” said Elementary School Principal Chris Hubert. Thirty-three children are enrolled this year in the classrooms of veteran Manor Pre-K teacher Fiona Streimer and Carlson, who was hired this school year.

“This is excellent for the community and the school in general,” said Streimer. “It’s great for me – I actually have a colleague to bounce ideas off of.” During the first month, children learn school basics, like how to walk in a straight line and how to raise their hand in class, and what it even means to raise one’s hand. They are taught how to sit in a chair, hold a pencil,

“We incorporate math, social studies, English Language Arts and science into play,” notes Fiona Streimer, who has taught Pre-K at LMCS for 14 years.

open a juice box. All along, they are learning social skills: sharing, cooperating, taking turns, working together. Before long, the teachers are concentrating on very early learning. Carlson teaches height and length by having her class measure toy frogs. She teaches the youngsters about animals’ feet, paws and hoofs by making animal tracks in Play-doh that mimic real tracks in snow or mud. “A lot of learning takes place by means of games,” adds Streimer. “I incorporate movement into everything. They are constantly moving and playing.” For example, in the unit on animals, her students shifted to the “dramatic play” area of the classroom and set up a pretend veterinarian’s office. Playing with stuffed animals, animal costumes and a stethoscope helps the children learn new vocabulary words. Determining how many pills to give a sick dog, or how many shots to give an injured cat, works on their math skills. The time-honored nursery rhymes like “Humpty Dumpty” and “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater” still have their place, but often, there’s a bit of critical thinking that goes on as well. For instance, in a lesson on Goldilocks

“In pre-kindergarten, once they learn to love you, they make a strong connection,” says teacher Shyla Carlson, who arrived this year from teaching kindergarten in Fallsburg’s Benjamin Cosor Elementary School.

and the Three Bears, Streimer got the children musing on whether it was okay to go into someone’s house when they were not there. “It’s important to get them thinking and problem-solving,” she said. A love of language, reading and books begins early, and pre-kindergarteners listen to stories and learn to recognize letters and the sounds that letters make. This is a key time for helping the smallest children through learning difficulties, said Principal Hubert. “The goal is to catch students early so we can start intervention so that they can be successful,” he said. And academics aren’t the whole picture, he said. “Here, whether it’s getting the students off the bus, or at lunch, or in the classroom,” he said, “the dedication, devotion and time that goes into each student is amazing.”


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A Look at Activities in the Livingston Manor School District

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(845) 887-5200 Callicoon, NY 12723 March 14, 2017 • Vol. CXXVI, No. 78

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Livingston Manor School Scene 2017  

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