In October of 1999, Bill proposed to his now wife while sitting on a bench under their favorite tree at the Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, a huge European beech on the upper slope. The tree was badly damaged about a year later and only the decaying snag remains. But the tree is surrounded by its offspring, a circle of tall, closely spaced trees which had taken root where the original beech's long, pendulous branches had touched the ground. On a recent fall day, the family, now consisting of a 7 and 9 year old were revisiting the special place.
Children of America greeters with Mascot Bentley
Assistant Director Katie McDonnell and coworker Mary Catherine of the Lansdale Children of America “Educational Childcare and Academy” were on hand to welcome the Chestnut Hill community to the company’s newest location on Saturday June 16th at the site of the former Borders Bookshop at the top of the Hill.
According to its website, “C-O-A” has about 60 sites from the east coast west to Wisconsin and plans for another 30 locations. The Chestnut Hill center, its largest, can accommodate up to two hundred and ninety one children ranging from 6 weeks old up through third grade. WHYY Newsworks.org reports that COA is in the process of seeking accreditation to become a Pennsylvania chartered school for up to 5th grade.
The school’s proprietary curriculum, developed specifically for COA by educational psychologist Vicki Folds and expounded in her books, is based on children doing tasks set up on what look like lunch trays (“traytasking”). The concept is to get children to manipulate things left to right and up to down, the same spatial directions they will use for reading.
Upon noting that a youngster has completed a certain age specific task, such as simultaneously pedaling and steering a tricycle, a childcare worker dates and initials the accomplishment in a checklist file for the child.
A sixteen hundred square foot but windowless playground in the basement has slides, a tree house, green artificial turf and purple rubber tiles for scrape free falls.
Children may go for rides aboard four or six-seat buggies through the hallways or, for some fresh air and a change of scene, along the building’s sidewalks. There is no outdoor playground.
Six-week olds start out in Infant Room A and after mastering sleeping in their cribs will graduate to Rooms B and C to begin sleeping on cots.
Security, which features prominently in the company’s marketing, is highlighted by its “Always Close By” system. A camera or two in every room can be monitored in the office by the director or assistant director. For $19.95 additional a month, (enrollment fees run $1600 a month) parents can view their children in real time remotely through the Internet. Mary Catherine reports that one mother at the Lansdale site will call in and have a talk with her child if she sees that her child is misbehaving.
In one classroom we visited, a menagerie of small plastic animals on a table top is ready for children to manipulate, learn their names and the sounds they make. At COA, dogs go “Woof.”
Walls are adorned with an illustration of the school’s mascot a dog named Bentley with a black circle around one eye who strongly resembles “Petey” from the 1920s and 30s television show “Our Gang.” Bentley is the main character in stories being written at all the COA centers and to be published and available to parents online.
There is a real life Bentley. He runs around on a beach in Florida where he lives with his owner, “Mr. Thad” [Pryor] a former world kickboxing champion and owner of the Children of America enterprise.
Parents with infant speak with director at reception desk
Children of America opens Monday June 17th at the site vacated two and a half years ago by the defunct Borders Bookstore chain
The "Toydozer" was invented by a Wyndmoor, Pa mom who modeled it after a shoebox she was using to scoop up her six-year old's Legos. It looks like a large, plastic dustpan and comes with a scoopy thing that looks like the curved blade of a bulldozer. The idea is if it's a toy, moms will get relief because kids will use it clean up their toys themselves. In this video, Molly Ellis, co-owner of Threadwell, an embroidery shop in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, which retails the 'dozer for $18.99 in a choice of bright colors, demonstrates how it works.
Morgan DeVries of Marlton, New Jersey and her dog, Guiness. Guiness usually runs as a partner in the races, but not this hot July day, where he is waiting patiently for Mom, Shelly, who was competing in the Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project sponsored "Run for the Hill of It" on July 30, 2011 on Forbidden Drive, Wissahickon Valley. Watch video here.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE HAVING DANCERS PERFORM WITH YOU? Wonderful. We always love to do this for the kids. I’m not doing this to get rich. I enjoy playing at libraries and schools and things like that for young people to perpetuate music. And the energy I get from the kids is wonderful. They interact with the band. Their response is very pure, very honest. It’s a joy to behold to see them dancing like that so I love it. Walter Bell, jazz flutist of the Latin Jazs Unit, Northeast Regional Library, Free Library of Philadelphia. Watch video here.
Kids came running to catch their chickens which had wandered away from their back yard near Mermaid Avenue and Winston Road in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Watch video here.
New owner, Chestnut Hill resident Stewart Graham is introducing Brings healthy snacks and flowers to the top of hill newsstand. And cigarettes are out. Jazz pianist Chris Marsceill daylights behind counter
The Newsstand, at the top of the Chestnut Hill West rail line, is considering continuing the tradition started by Jay, a former SEPTA worker, of handing out treats to students who come by and show A grades on tests. But handouts are out.
Jazz pianist Chris Marsceill daylights behind counter,
WE WOULDN’T BE CELEBRATING MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY IF HE WERE STILL ALIVE AND NOT ASSASSINATED BY SOMEONE WHO WAS A LITTLE CRAZY, WITH A FIREARM. I’M THINKING THAT IT’S TIME TO REPEAL THE SECOND AMENDMENT. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE BUT NO RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE ARIZONA SHOOTING AND THE VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTINGS?
“Most of us agree that the second amendment should be revised as to who’s allowed to carry a gun. We learned that in certain states you can carry concealed weapons. There’s no law against it. They force some colleges to allow students to carry concealed weapons…. There should be some sort of test to pass, not just filling out paperwork.” Breanna Hawkins, right.
“We’re actually learning about that in our English class. We have a lot of opinions about what happened what should have happened … Maybe it’s time for the police to also step up and go through the streets and find those people that are selling the guns and people that are buying them illegally. Most teenagers that have firearms are getting their guns illegally from the streets.” Brittany Moldey, left.
Brittany and Breanna, eleventh graders at the Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice in Mount Airy, were welcoming prospective students and their parents on Saturday as part of their required community service. On Martin Luther King Day, Parkway students will help paint the lunchroom and others are volunteering to cook with younger children at the Waldorf School, also situated on the New Covenant Church campus in Mount Airy.
Divya Arun, of Roxborough, a 3rd year medical student at Drexel University, studies the clinical manifestations of diseases at Chestnut Hill Coffee cafe in preparation for an oral exam.
I SEE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING SET UP HERE, YOUR DRINKS YOUR BANANA, YOUR BOOK, YOUR NOTEBOOKS, YOUR PEN. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON? I’m actually in medical school. We have an oral exam coming up Thursday so I ‘m preparing for that. I have to pick fifteen different medical topics and know ever thing about them. And they’ll randomly ask me questions about the topics so I have to prepare the clinical manifestations of diseases and things like that. WHAT AREA IN MEDICINE ARE YOU INTERESTED IN? I’m not sure, Third year we go through the different specialties like medicine, pediatrics, ob-gyn, surgery, psychiatry, family medicine and you kind of decide from there. That’s what this year is about and I haven’t figured it out yet. DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA WHAT SETTING YOU WANT TO PRACTICE, WHETHER CLINICAL OR RESEARCH..? Definitely clinical probably not research although I’ll have research integrated in whatever I do but not totally research. WHAT INTERESTS YOU IN THE FIELD? It’s constantly changing, you work with people day in and day out. You get to help them most of the time. It’s pretty rewarding, feeling you’re doing something productive every day. CAN YOU THINK OF AN INSTANCE WHERE YOU FELT GRATIFIED HELPING SOMEONE? I volunteered last year at the Eliza Shirley Clinic which is a domestic violence shelter for women and their children who are abused and have nowhere else to go and I felt that was pretty rewarding. We had a student run clinic and you just see whoever wants to be seen with one of the doctors from Drexel who comes. WHAT KIND OF MEDICAL ISSUES DO THEY PRESENT WITH? They present with the gamut. We see the adults on the adult clinic day and the “Peeds clinic”, the pediatricians come in. Lots of colds, lots of gyn-related problems, really anything. AND YOU’RE STUDYING WHERE? Drexel University School of Medicine. AND THIS IS YOUR OFFICE AWAY FORM HOME? Pretty much.
Divya Arun, of Roxborough, studying at Chestnut hill Coffee cafe.
"So please give a hand for the Jenks Bucket Drumming ensemble!...During the school year I start the kids with learning technique, with learning how to read music, music literacy and at the end of every period I have an enrichment section, lesson. They learn bucket drumming or they learn drum set, improvisation, composition. And basically the kids do bucket drumming. We compose pieces together, we improvise ….. I got an idea from the University of the Arts. I attended the University of the Arts. We started an experimental bucket drumming ensemble there that kind of took off. And now it’s developing all over the city. I have seven ensembles in the city that I started and it’s just taking off! That’s what we do here at Jenks. Each bucket is about two dollars and thirty seven cents. And it’s immediate gratification for the kids. So instead of spending months learning fingering and armature and technique for a saxophone or clarinet, you pick up a pair of sticks and immediately play and you sound OKAY." Philadelhia School District Music teacher with the J.S. Jenks Middle School bucket drumming ensemble at the winter concert.