Bloomingdale Family Program I
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One of the oldest Head Start programs in the city
Admission is limited to low-income families
Children in the Bloomingdale Family Program raise butterflies in the classroom and take nature walks in Central Park with binoculars. When they reach kindergarten age, they funnel into public schools on the Upper West Side, and a few are accepted into private schools such as Bank Street, Ascension or The Cathedral School. The program has been popular for decades among a network of families and friends.
Children are lovingly supported here. They are chatty, playful and easy-going with their patient teachers. About 40 percent have special needs and most are native Spanish speakers. Classes are bilingual, and there are "one-on-one" rooms for play therapy. Those at risk of falling behind may return to Bloomingdale through 3rd grade for free, after-school homework help.
Founded in 1960 in a church basement by parent volunteers, Bloomingdale now serves children in three centers within a three-block radius. It served as a model in the formation of the Head Start program in the 1960s. More than half of Bloomingdale's staff began their association with the program as parents including Executive Director Jose Velilla.
Lead teachers are certified by HighScope, a respected early childhood program. Activities stem from children's interests rather than a scripted program, said Educational Director Marilyn Barnwell, who has been with Bloomingdale for almost five decades. Training in the HighScope approach is "harder, but we don't mind harder," Barnwell said with evident pride.
Admissions: Limited to low-income families. (Lydie Raschka, August 2015)Read more