Education Committee Speaker Series

Zoom Webinar Presentation: Aiding the Transition

Helpful Resources:



Education Committee Presents: Fostering Strong Sibling Relationships

PIFS Education Committee Presents:
Fostering Strong Sibling Relationships

A Presentation by Christine D’Alessandro
Head of Lower School, Sacred Heart Greenwich

Thanks to everyone who came to hear Christine D’Alessandro last week. The event was well-received and well-attended. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here are some highlights from her presentation. 

  • Limiting beliefs, such as stereotypes (example, the “baby” of family), stand in the way of handling a situation impartially. Try to avoid such stereotyping. 

  • Children want to be heard. Often just acknowledging and naming their emotion (“You feel frustrated”) can mediate a tense situation. Once more calm, a more productive conversation can be had.

  • For young siblings (toddlers), we can’t expect a relationship; a three-year-old isn’t interested in a friendship with his brother quite yet. Rather, help build a process for respecting boundaries. 

  • When conflict inevitably arises…
    • Parents need to be aware of their own emotions. You can’t de-escalate an escalated child/situation until you are in a calm and collected space yourself.
    • Don’t just side with the victim. This can create a victim mentality. 
    • Outbursts are information. Let the situation inform you about who needs what, and try to help it become a teachable moment about boundaries.
      • “It’s ok to have fun, it’s not ok to ________.” 
      • Both sides want to be heard. Acknowledge that you hear each child, and validate their feelings. 
      • “What is it that you need right now?”


Tuesday Tours

Tuesday Tours

February 25
March 10
March 17
March 31
April 7
April 14

Contact Maria Sabito to schedule a tour of our beautiful three-acre campus.


Education Committee Presents: The Science of Reading & Literacy

A Presentation by Joan Kelley, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Thursday, January 16th
11:00am & 2:30pm
PIFS Gymnasium

Joan Kelley

Joan Gould Kelley, a former teacher, was part of the Language Diversity and Literacy Development Research Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for over a decade. She did research, wrote articles for the field, and worked with teachers and educational leaders to help them implement the kind of instruction that effectively builds children’s reading skills. Joan believes her most important work, however, is with parent groups, outlining what a child needs to do to read well, and how to work reading skill development into busy lives. The mission to include parents seriously in the learning-to-read conversation led her to found Abound Parenting, and create an app to support families every day. She lives in Needham, MA, and has three adult children.

Why do parents need to care about reading development if children are still too young to read? 

Because the science of reading shows that learning to read depends upon the interactions and experiences a child is steeped in from the earliest days of his/her life. And while it’s science, it’s not rocket science: all it takes is being informed and investing at least a few playful and engaging minutes each day.

On January 16 at 11am and 2:30pm, Joan Kelley will be presenting an hour-long talk to the PIFS community to tell parents of young children all they need to know about setting their children up to be strong readers in the years ahead. She will address the following questions:

  • What does it take to be a successful reader?
  • Why do parents have to work together with educators each step of the way?
  • What can parents do REALISTICALLY in the day-to-day (while also working, food shopping, making meals, doing laundry…) to help children read more successfully in the years ahead?

Joan is doing an early literacy initiative with selected sites in Greenwich and will be collecting short surveys and feedback from anyone who is interested in helping out. See you on November 21st!


Book Fair


Party With Moms | New Natural Play Yard Coming Soon to PIFS

Please check out the great story about our upcoming new play yard written for Party With Moms by PIFS former Head of School and teacher Marianne Riess.


PIFS Auction 2019 Bidding Guide

Once the Silent Auction is open, you will be able to begin placing bids from your smartphone or mobile device. The process is easy, and, if assistance is needed, volunteers and bidding assistants will be available throughout the evening of the event. You can bid from home, too!

How it works:
• You must be registered in order to bid. 
• Register online at

Registering online is the easiest way to place bids in the auction. You can register at any time. Click “Sign In” on the top right corner of the event page, and click on the register now link if you have not yet created your profile. Enter your name, contact information, and payment method. Registering online will help us ensure a quick check-in and check-out process at the event. 

Once the event begins on 11/9, you will receive a welcome text message. Click on the link within the text message you received. This will log you in automatically to your own personal bidding center.

  • View All: See all auction items
  • Categories: Browse items by category
  • My Items: Items you’ve bid on or are “watching”
  • Donate: Make a tax-deductible donation to the organization
  • Sponsors: Information on event sponsors
  • Items Without Bids: List of items with no bids
  • Item # or Keyword: Enter the item name or number and hit Go! which will take you to the item page to place a bid

Now let’s bid!

  • Bid: Automatically enters the next minimum bid amount; you will be asked by pop-up screen to confirm your bid
  • Change bid amount: You can manually enter any amount that is greater than the “next bid”
  • Set Maximum Bid: So that you don’t risk getting outbid at the last minute, everyone is encouraged to set a max bid. The auction software will automatically raise your bid by a pre-determined increment until your maximum bid has been met or the silent auction ends
  • Watch Item: Adds items to your “My Items” list for easy reference later
  • Buy Now: Enables you to purchase an item outright instead of bidding (not always activated)


Admission Open House | October 24

Admission Open House
Thursday, October 24
5:30-7:00 pm



Our New Smokeys Play Yard


Apple Picking Guide


PIFS Education Committee Presents: WHY PLAY?

A Keynote Presentation by Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC-SLP

Wednesday, October 16th
6:30 pm
PIFS Gymnasium

Please join us for an informative presentation on the importance of play in social emotional development. The natural curiosity of children can be guided to foster deep social relationships, emotional responses and cognitive learning. Nancy Tarshis will discuss typical developmental expectations and supportive strategies for social cognition and social competency.

Nancy Tarshis

Nancy Tarshis is a speech-language pathologist with an extensive background in working with children and their parents. She has a MA in Education of the Deaf and a MS in Speech/Language Pathology – both from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently the Director of Early Childhood programs at the Quad Preparatory School and the former Supervisor of Speech and Language Services at Montefiore’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) at Einstein College of Medicine. In addition to co-directing Altogether Social, she is an Adjunct Instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York University and Hunter College. Nancy is the co-author of the Social Thinking© early learner curriculum, We Thinkers Volumes 1 and 2 curriculum, storybooks and GPS guide (formally The Incredible Flexible you) and is a member of the Social Thinking Speaker’s Collaborative.




Planting Week

This week, PIFS students planted seeds and the seedlings they’ve been nurturing since February. We started the week with chilly, drizzly weather and ended with warmer days and a little more sun! Planting Week is one of the highlights of the year for the children and for the PIFS Green Committee. 

The Nursery 1 AM students planted carrots, radishes and red onions on Monday.

Tuesday was a busy day with Full Day Pre-K, Nursery/Connecting, Toddler 1 PM, and Nursery 1 PM planting sunflowers, lettuce, kale, spinach, green beans, carrots, snow peas, parsley and cilantro. 

Toddlers were very busy on Wednesday planting zucchini, cucumbers and potatoes… Did you know you could grow potatoes in bags? They were very successful last summer! Our Farm to Table Smokeys enjoyed harvesting the potatoes this fall and making homemade potato chips. 

On Thursday, we had Nursery AM and Toddler AM classes plant peas, lettuce, kale and potatoes.

Connecting wrapped up Planting Week on Friday with peppers, tomatoes and marigolds.

Many thanks to all of our parent volunteers who made the week a huge success!

Looking Ahead…

Are you interested in gardening? Do you spend time trying to feed your family mostly organic, healthy meals? Are you environmentally aware and try to usenon-toxic, environmentally friendly products? Or do you just want to learn more about any of the above? The PIFS Green Committee might be a fun place for you next year!  The Green Committee supports the school’s efforts to make PIFS a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable learning environment. The committee serves as a resource to administration, providing research and guidance for such initiatives as improving cleaning products and the quality of food served. The Green Committee also hosts the annual Planting Week. This PIFS community event, in early spring, provides all students valuable experience in nurturing seedlings and planting a garden. Email pifsgreen@gmail.comfor more information. We’d love to have you!


Learning Through Art

Longtime friend of PIFS Remy Cook of Party With Moms did a great post on this year’s Art Show. Check out the great piece here.


April 10 | “No-Drama Discipline” Part II


Learning Through Projects

On Thursday, March 28th, Head of School Sue Donaghy along with teachers Kelly Krzykowski, Clarissa Moore and Sarah Morris presented on how children learn through projects. Following is an introduction of the session.

What Do Children Need for Their Future?

To be:
Creative thinkers – who can deal with practical and abstract issues
Flexible – and able to adjust to an increasingly complex world filled with information, technology and diverse people
Problem solvers – who will be ready for the challenges and opportunities they will face
Innovators – able to generate new ideas

(NAEYC : Excerpt from Nurturing Creativity: An Essential Mindset for Young Children’s Learning 2016)

With new technology and an ever expanding, information based economy, nurturing children’s creativity and curiosity while providing a solid foundation in critical thinking, communication, and math is the best way to prepare them for their future.

(Diamandis & Kotler 2012)

At PIFS we recognize this and it is our Mission –
To provide an early childhood educational experience that will ignite a love of learning and inspire children to:

  • Be creative and critical thinkers
  • Have a positive self-image
  • Bravely take risks
  • Embrace diversity
  • Feel responsible for themselves and their world
  • Be good friends

So Why Projects?

“A project is an in-depth investigation of a topic worth learning about.”

(Lillian Katz)
  • Research tells us that children learn best in purposefully created engaging learning environments that intrigue children and encourage problem solving, curiosity and creativity 
  • Children need opportunities to follow their interests, make choices, collaborate with others (strengthening their social and emotional development) 
  • To expand their thinking and develop new skills, they must have the freedom to make mistakes and be encouraged to learn through them (the majority of innovations, experiments, inventions, writings, and designs happen because of deviations from conventions) 
  • And to be impactful and retain this interest, they must find meaning in their work

The Process of a Project

Step 1 – Initiated by a teacher or children 

Provocation – teacher sparks interest through a display, an interaction, or an activity

Observing and listening to children – teacher recognizes an interest that might launch a study 

Can it… 
• Build on what children already know?
• Help them make better sense of the world they live in?
• Offer children ideas for dramatic play and other forms of representation?
• Help children and teachers seek resources outside of the school?
• Facilitate communications with parents?
• Integrate literacy, math, and science?

Step 2 – Investigation & Research 

• Children and teachers gather information through teacher selected and child-initiated learning experiences.
• Supportive partnerships develop with families and parents.
• Children record and represent their learning using a variety of media, collaborative construction.
• Teachers interact and inspire inquiry and further exploration which raises level of thinking and scaffolds knowledge and skills.
• Teachers observe and document the learning process.

Step 3 – Conclusion 
Children summarize their learning in a construction and communication for others – which includes reporting, representation and exhibits.

Do All Projects Go to Conclusion?
No, sometimes what starts off as a great topic for study doesn’t hold the children’s interest. The journey was still valuable.

Are All Children Involved?
To move from an interesting topic to a full project, there must be substantial interest in the classroom. That doesn’t mean that all children will be interested and children tend to float in and out of the project.

Is that all that is going on in the classroom at the time?
No, although a project can be quite encompassing, other learning opportunities coexist.


PIFS Art Show 2019


Greenwich Magazine | PIFS’s 40th Anniversary Party


Book Fair | Dec. 4-8


Education Committee

Hello PIFS Parents!

We hope the first few months of school have gone well and your children are settling into PIFS.  If you are new to the school, we would like to introduce you to the PIFS Education Committee. We are here to proactively educate parents about the PIFS teaching philosophy. Additionally, we act as liaisons and sounding boards for any concerns that may arise.

Please feel free to reach out to either of us, or any other committee member, with questions or concerns. Additionally, the Education Committee welcomes all ideas and feedback!

Thank you so much and we are looking forward to a great year at PIFS!

Kind regards,
Sarah Pribyl & Jennie Stone


Michelle Crimins
Erica Lucas
Darlene Winkler
Sarah Pribyl
Jennie Stone
Betsy Wells
Magali Swanson