A Bank Street Alumna’s Experience as a UPK Facilitator

September 15, 2014 at 12:16 pm Leave a comment

Submitted by Lorraine Yamin ’95


Late last spring, deputies from the New York City Department of Education asked early childhood professors at Bank Street College to create a Universal Preschool (UPK) institute, in order to provide professional development for the nearly 2,000 teachers hired to fulfill Mayor de Blasio’s UPK promise.

By early June, Getting Ready For PreK: An Institute for Educators was conceived by professors, deans and program coordinators devoted to the mission of expanding UPK.  They tackled long sequences of logistical problems to deliver this “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.”

Once the institute had form, the designers, Nancy Nager, Nancy Gropper and Joy Lundeen Ellebbane, emailed alumni and friends of Bank Street, explaining the new partnership with the NYC DOE.  They hoped and prayed for enough applicants to cull 80 facilitators who would provide the PD.   Most people had already solidified summer vacation plans, so finding the 80 facilitators could have been daunting.  It was not.

There was a tremendous response from the early childhood community.  Bank Street sent out a clarion call to service and many responded, offering to be facilitators before knowing the pay, despite having to rework vacation plans.  I was one of the facilitators selected to provide the PD and am enormously grateful to have had that opportunity.

At the end of July, at the facilitator training, I sat in a conference room with 39 other early childhood educators brimming with enthusiasm for this historic UPK initiative.  Along with me in the 2-day workshop for trainers were three former bosses and many colleagues that I had worked with over the past 20 years.  It felt, at once, like a conference and a homecoming.  Our sleep-deprived hosts presented us with the training manual and led us through the PD as the new hires would experience it.

On August 12-14 at Queens Community College, Bank Street and the DOE held the first 3-day UPK institute.  My job was to facilitate experiential, small group activities and discussions on the content provided by Bank Street.   I was assigned a dreary, dingy classroom with rows of tightly packed chairs, and 40 people preparing to either teach in, or supervise, UPK classrooms.

On that first morning, when the long train of people poured in, I wondered, “How are we going to maintain the tremendous enthusiasm for this project, in such a drab, grey room?”  The content and multi-media tools provided by Bank Street were fantastic and we were told to be true to the curriculum while making it our own.  For me, the linchpin proved to be stories about the children.  I knew that each educator in the room carried with them memories of children, and that those memories would animate the content.  Throughout the three days, I told stories, the participants shared memories and together, we brought the children into the room which instantly united us as a community of adult learners.

This September, the NYC DOE expanded the number of UPK spots by 30,000.  There were imperfections in the plan, and many challenges to this great initiative remain.  I was thrilled to join a legion of early childhood educators who would not allow imperfections to halt the tremendous benefit for children and families whose daily lives have been supported by Mayor de Blasio’s expansion of UPK.  It was an amazing experience and I hope to be part of it again some day.





Entry filed under: Alumni Accomplishments. Tags: , , , , , .

Reflections on Bank Street’s UPK Training Initiative in Partnership with the NYCDOE Mathematics Leadership Program– Blogging Together

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Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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