Giving Thanks to Our Community

The holidays and the New Year are a time of reflection—a time to give thanks and to appreciate those who have given you joy, friendship and support. Silver Spring Day School works every day to support its students, teachers, parents, and the broader community. Spotlight has been on a bit of a hiatus, but we’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the ways in which SSDS has enriched our community this year, and to give thanks to all those who put time and effort to make these and other events so special.

In early October, Takoma Park held its annual street festival and SSDS was there, adding to the fun and reaching out to the community. Lindsey Simpson, a parent and organizer of the SSDS tent, said this was her fourth year working the Takoma Park Street Festival. “It’s a great way to raise awareness about SSDS to the community and share more about our school,” she said. “Our tent has attracted lots of families to come over and ask questions. We think it can be a strong introduction to the philosophy and programs at SSDS.”

Prospective parents met with a very well-organized team this year. “Megan created easy to fill out note cards for parents interested in learning more about the school,” said Lindsey. “We also provided hand-out materials for those who are interested—pamphlets about open house information, as well as information about our play-based curriculum and nature-inspired playground.” Erin Hoffmann, a volunteer, noted that there was a very positive response from visitors to the booth. “There were tons of parents that stopped by and were so excited about our different options—the before care, the after care and the flexibility of that since you don’t have to commit to the whole year. That’s really cool. And the younger families were so excited to hear about our Rolling 2’s program. That was huge to them.”

It wasn’t all business, though. Erin noted a rather touching human element as well. “It was great to see SSDS alumni come by, and Richelle knew all of them. It was amazing. She has quite a memory for kids.”

Richelle has deep ties to the Takoma Park/Silver Spring community, and works hard to find ways to engage present, past, and future students. One example of that is the Family Nights at El Golfo restaurant. Richelle and El Golfo owner Ada Villatoro began collaborating years ago to organize fundraisers for local Long Branch schools, efforts for which Ada has been recognized with an award from IMPACT Silver Spring. This fall, SSDS and El Golfo worked together to sponsor events to support the arts. “SSDS is trying to teach to give back, and teaching our community to be good citizens,” Richelle said of the effort.

The vibrancy of the SSDS community and its willingness to give back was also evident on Giving Tuesday. Current and former SSDS families showed their generosity and love for the school by donating to the successful campaign, which also garnered a $1,000 match by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in cooperation with a Facebook challenge. Many parents shared warm words for the school and expressed how the SSDS community has impacted their lives and the lives and their children.

And of course one of the highlights of the fall at SSDS is the Octoberfest. The event provides a great way for families to spend time together, to build bonds with new families and to catch up with old friends. “We chose the school because of the sense of community and enjoy participating as much as we can. It’s nice to get to know the other parents,” said Sharon Coffman, one of the Octoberfest committee co-chairs. Octoberfest is an opportunity for children to visit with former teachers and play with friends outside the classroom setting, not to mention the excitement of games and prizes!

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And like so much of what SSDS does, Octoberfest is a platform for engagement. The organizing committee includes 20 families with more donating items to the bake sale. And in the spirit of teaching its community to be good citizens, SSDS involves middle and high school students as volunteers to work the game tables, paint faces and chaperone the moon bounce.

Thanks to all of you for being a part of the SSDS community. Best wishes for a joyous and happy New Year, and we look forward to spending fun times together in 2017!