Managing and teaching in a shelter child center

Archive for January, 2012

At least the fire alarm works!

I discovered this at 6:30 am when we were all settling down for breakfast. The air was filled with the ear-piecing shriek of the required fire alarms. Which of course panicked the kids. (and some of the staff. We immediately snapped into Emergency mode, and somehow managed to gett all the kids out of the building and into the tacobell parking lot, our designated meeting place.

This was when we learned that the shelter doesn’t have an evacuation plan. the kids were the only residents who were accounted for,because we have our own evacuation plan. No one knew where half the residents on the fourth floor (medical floor) were, or if they had even gotten out of the building. I was able to tell the supervisor that at least 45 people who weren’t accounted for had already left the building earlier. They were the parents who had already dropped their kids off. We were able to give work numbers so they could verify this.

But that seems backwards! The supervisors should have known where the residents were. They should have been able to handle a minor evacuation. And they should have a plan! With 350 families asw well as 50 medically fragile seniors there needs to be more accountability.

i wonder how we looked to people on the street. 6 cribs being rolled across the street, and a bunch of half awake toddlers in pajamas and flipflops being herded by almost running adults. Oh well. We did what we had to do. And we’re all safe. But the poor kids didn’t settle down all day. Many of these kids are already traumatised. Sometimes I wish that the poor kids would just get a break for a change.


I sometimes wonder if designers of childrens clothing

actually have children. Here a re a few peeves:

1.infant snowsuits. Have you ever tried getting an infant out of one

2. Toddler onsies. They don’t get high enough fast enough. Guess where they end up?

3. Toddler overalls. the straps end up in the same place as the onsies.

4. Snaps the whole way up the legs of pants. It really doesn’t make access easier.

We have amazing families here!

Seriously. I can’t praise our families nearly enough. It seems like they always come through in a pinch. Here a re just a few shining examples:

  • When I was looking at a bookshelf in a catalogue and commented that I wished we could get one, two fathers who happen to know woodworking built one. And its even better than the one I wanted to order.
  • There is a grandmother that bakes enough banana, persimmon, zuccini or pumpkin bread for the entire center,every two weeks!
  • Say field trip, get 70 parent volunteers.
  • there are always parents helping out with different activities,from clean up to dance classes.
  • its perfectly normal to have parents doing maintenance voluntarily on a weekend.
  • parents who speak more than on e language are willing to help translate all our handouts, so that Everyone can understand what’s going on.

And so much more! Thanks and whoo-hoo to the Elk Parents!


Lessons of the day

  1. Miss Turtle’s cell phone doesn’t swim
  2. She will make really strange faces if you take her phone swimming
  3. baby cheetahs purr really loud!!
  4. its a good idea to have a back up cell phone with a plumber on speed dial


Of course :

  • Its down-pouring rain and ALL 312 kids showed up
  • Today ‘s activities have all been cancelled, and the staff are looking at me blankly when I told them to go to plan B. (we always have a plan B and usually a C,D, and E as well.)
  • the kids that aren’t in pj’s are in snow suits
  • The rooster came back
  • so did the possum
  • My office got tossed, and all the important stuff is out of order (to say the least)
  • I can’t walk today, and there are 5 parent meetings scheduled.
  • As soon as I hit the infant room, all the above stopped mattering.
  • of course: (

Veggie Dragon

This Veggie dragon (or possibly an angel) has become our mascot. It is a picture made by manipulating photos of vegetables,fruit and pasta. In other words, what you see is not what you get. A friendly smiling dragon can be created by a few clicks of the mouse. A lesson of how people should look at what they think they’ve got.

Or possibly an angel

Sometimes I wonder if:

  • Other preschools have to deal with wandering wildlife
  • why parents put their kids in snowsuits,when our center is just downstairs
  • anyone else has water that looks worse than my 9th grader’s science fair project.
  • can’t find a board,because no one really wants to deal with homeless children and their special issues
  • other centers have 99%  “shocky” kids
  • Keep getting told that I don’t meet standards,but no one wants to let me know which standards I’m supposed to meet! (we are way over the shelter standards of 1 adult to countless unknown children)
  • Manages to face all these challenges and still have great parents, a wonderful staff,and for the most part,happy children.
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