This is part 12 of my interview with Marilee Cosgrove of the Fullerton School District. Our focus was on “Lessons Learned” –creating an effective quality pre-school program in a public school context.
Q: In Fullerton, you do a lot of professional development. How does that work?
A: We took everyone to Bev Bos – it was awesome – and opened their eyes to other (trainings). Bev did a summer conference – we started there, because it was palatable. We’ve sent people to educator tours, exhibits, we’ve made an investment. [Read “Basics of Bev Bos” Here]
Q: You’ve said “None of this would be possible without Santa Monica” – what do you mean by that?
A: “Santa Monica” has a special meaning in the pre-school world. When we first started, we took our administrators to Santa Monica, to visit Patricia McGrath’s school (then Director of BlueBerry, now at Branches Atelier (http://www.branchesatelier.com/) We ended up taking 24 people, ultimately, principals and pre-K teachers to 1st Pres(byterian) in Santa Monica. We’ve gone back and forth to Santa Monica for years … they have so many education tours, and they can handle a group of our size.
Q: And how did that help you?
A: People see it, and they get it. They went to Santa Monica, and they got it. They could see it, they could see those classrooms, and say “Yeah!!” They could hear how those every day teachers did the work, and they could also be exposed to someone like Alise Shafer (of Evergreen Community School), and they could see how to go deeper.
Everyone goes to a different level, everyone makes it their own, and seeing what other good people are doing is how you grow. To see New School West, Evergreen, 1st Pres … you see the same strategies, but make it your own, as your kids and space are different. And now, with most of these people supporting the Pedagogical Institute (in Santa Monica), well, that’s just incredible.
Q: So the tours inspire?
A: These tours and visits and classes and conferences – they are practical, and inspirational – you see like-minded spirits, educators who are doing what’s best for children, and you see it in different contexts … I mean, we’re in a different city, in portable classrooms, but it’s still possible.
Q: Did your teachers say “well, they are in Santa Monica?”
A: No – they were so motivated, because they could see the possibilities … the possibilities within themselves, really… it’s awesome. The documentation from Alise (Shafer) is mind blowing – it’s so beautiful. You see how beautiful it is, and you see that this is what children can do, and you can’t wait to go back and see what comes out of your kids.
Q: Are you still learning from Santa Monica?
A: Last year I sent 4 to a weeklong practicum at Evergreen…. It was worth every penny. They flipped out. They said “we get it, I can see more.”
Q: And how much did that cost?
A: I just had to pay for subs, out of my budget. $100/day. Not like that will break you, and when those people come back, they are contagious.