Cub Connection January News

Gerner Family Early Education Center

Happy New Year!

As we move into the new year, I'm sure you've had plenty of time to reflect on great things from 2020 and the oh so interesting moments of the year. What I hope that you have been able to reflect on time and time again this past year is how blessed we are with wonderful children. Our children bring us hope, joy, and so much laughter. Their innocent view of the world is encouraging and pure. I love coming to work each day to be reminded of the goodness and joy around us. Thank you for sharing your children with us. They are an incredible gift!

As most of us ponder New Year resolutions, staff will be preparing for exciting and engaging learning experiences to expand student potential. We work hard to balance strong academic preparation and social learning experiences to develop the whole child in a safe and caring environment. Some new students will begin at the start of the semester, so some of your children may talk about new faces joining their classrooms. The semester doesn't officially change until January 19, because our year started a bit later.

In this edition of the Cub Connection, you will find details for all the happenings throughout the Gerner community this month to help you prepare. We are sharing some links to the Park Hill School District to help our families stay connected to communication.

Thank you for being a part of our growing community! We are so glad you are here!


Ms. Rachel Ward
Coordinator of Early Education Programs

Important School Information

Mark your calendars for the following important dates!

Please plan to participate in upcoming events at Gerner:

  • December 31st/January 1st - No School
  • January 4th - First day back with our students
  • January 18th - No School for ECSE/BF/Horizons students
  • January 19th - Start of 2nd Semester
  • February 12th - Friendship Class Parties for all students

Staff Spotlight: Mrs. Andrea Richardson

Our staff spotlight for the month of January is our Early Childhood Special Education Process Coordinator, Andrea Richardson.

Andrea Richardson has worked in the field of education for 16 years, the last four have been in the Park Hill School District. Andrea serves as the Process Coordinator at Gerner, ensuring that special education processes are followed and that practices remain in compliance with special education regulations. Not only does Andrea oversee the special education evaluation process and assist the evaluation team in making determinations for eligibility, she also collaborates with teams on an ongoing basis to review instructional practices, plan and facilitate professional development and general programming needs. Andrea collaborates with parents, providing information related to special education process and helps to answer their questions related to early childhood development and concerns.

If you should have questions related to special education processes and evaluation, accessing early childhood programming at Gerner or other community-based resources please feel free to contact Andrea by email at or by phone at 816.359.6111.

Tuition Preschool Enrollment for 2021 - 2022 School Year

Enrollment for the Summer 2021 and Fall 2021-22 Tuition Preschool program will begin in the spring. Specific dates have not been identified at this time but will be communicated with families in the February edition of the Cub Connection. All enrollment will go through Infinite Campus again this year. Current families will have the opportunity to save a spot for the program before it is open to the general public. More information will be coming soon!

Super Cub Expectations

We are so proud of our Super Cubs at Gerner! Our young students are gaining great school skills through their actions in the hallways, classrooms, playground, and the stairways. The goal through PBS is to support the development of prosocial skills and cooperation by contributing to a larger group. Our students are doing a great job by showing how to Be Ready, Be Safe, and Make Good Choices throughout the day.

When a staff member "catches" a student demonstrating any of the expectations, a Super Cub Paw (paired with verbal praise for specific behavior) is given to the student. The student will place the paw on a class bulletin board to contribute to a class celebration. This is a great way to acknowledge great qualities and expectations demonstrated each day.

Safety Drills - Practice to be Prepared!

It is important that students know how to respond to emergency situations that could occur at Gerner. Students and staff will participate in a variety of safety drills every month throughout the school year. Staff handle the drills delicately in order to help students understand the seriousness of the process, yet not make students feel afraid.

For the month of January we will practice our monthly fire drill:

  • Fire Drill: The goal for this drill is to quickly exit the building and account for all students in case of a fire inside the building. We practice this drill each month we are in school.

If you ever have questions regarding the processes for drills, please contact your classroom teacher.

Need Relaxation Ideas?

Need a resource to help members of your family unwind or refocus? This Virtual Relaxation Room is a place for students and families to find tools and strategies for managing emotions and feelings. There are links to relaxing sounds, live animal cameras, visual relaxation, virtual tours and much more. Check out the link below today!

Literacy Link

Importance of Early Literacy Experiences

Language and literacy develop together as a baby grows from an infant, to a toddler, to a school-aged child and older. This development happens in an expected order, through social interactions, most often with parents. The key to development is that interaction.

Babies’ and toddlers’ brains grow quickly and the first three years are critical for language development. Handing a child an iPad or having them use a computer program to learn means they will miss important social interactions. And, once that opportunity passes, it's hard to make up. The brain cells that would have been nurtured and developed start to fade away.

Building literacy and language skills help children be kindergarten-ready, so they enter school with a love of books and ready to learn. This is important for school success because eventually they move from learning to read, to reading to learn. At that point, if children struggle with reading, they’ll struggle with learning. This is also important for self-esteem, and building resilience to avoid drugs and resist peer pressure.

What Can You Do to Promote Reading at Any Age?

No baby is too young to be spoken to. Talk to your baby so they hear words with expression and emotion. Make fun noises like animal sounds and look for them to mimic you. As they get older, name and point to objects, talk about what you're doing, like making dinner or going for a walk. Help them explore their world by naming and showing things.

It's never too early to start reading to your baby. A 3-month-old will love being cuddled on their parent’s lap and begins to associate reading with warmth and love. Board books are made for babies to get their hands around and for them touch, feel, and explore, the same way they explore their whole world.

As they get older, you can share more complex books; books with pictures, counting, animal and farmyard stories and little plots. Books can have paper pages because toddlers can do more with their fingers and turn pages without tearing them. As you share stories together, you can anticipate what’s going to happen and talk about it.

A toddler may not want to sit still as you read, but that's okay. They can run and play and you can read an exciting story while they listen to it. Maybe they will act it out!

Make reading part of your child’s bedtime routine early on, and encourage it in school-aged children. This helps make bedtimes go more smoothly and can lead to a lifelong habit. Reading as you drift off to sleep rather than a looking at a stimulating screen helps people of all ages sleep better.

Don’t stop reading to your child when they get older. The books change, but parents can still read to kids and kids can read to parents. Read aloud, or try reading in parallel, because sometimes, with longer books, it may be hard to read lengthy passages; so get two copies at the library and read side-by-side.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Before you go on outings or trips, consider if there are books to fit the theme. For example, if you’re going to the zoo, get books about animals. When your child reads a story about a giraffe, then sees one in person, they may want to read more about it afterward.

Make the reading environment fun. Try a blanket fort, or a reading nook with pillows.

On short and long car trips, try listening to audio recordings of books. For books that are made into movies, try to read the book first so you can paint a picture of what all the characters and places look like beforehand.

A parent-child book club is great for kids in middle grades or early high school. Pick several titles and vote for one for everyone to read; meet every couple of months and talk about it. It’s a nice way to try a book you might not read on your own and think about it in more depth or from another perspective.

Don’t forget libraries. They are wonderful, free and have many other programs linked to stories, like musical instruments, crafts, or summer reading programs for various ages. Go to the children's area or the young adult reading area and spend time there as a family.

Family Read-alouds: Fun with Poetry

Enjoy a fun article about how to enjoy rhyming and poems with your children.

Important Family Information

Parents as Teachers

Let's be honest, parenting is hard work! There are days we feel like rock stars and other days where we don't know what to do. Our Parents as Teachers program is available to all Park Hill School District families with children ages 0-5 to support families. Our Parent Educators work with families to support the growth and development of children during this critical stage in life.

Parent Educators support families in four critical areas:

  • Home Visits (virtual right now)
  • Developmental Screening
  • Connection Events (virtual right now)
  • Community Resource Connections

This is a wonderful program available to support the whole family. If you are interested in learning more about the Parents as Teachers program and how to enroll, please visit our school website and/or contact the school today!

PTA planning spring fundraiser

PTA planning spring fundraiser

The PTA has already begun talking about plans for our spring fundraising event. We have typically hosted a spring carnival-like event with a silent auction. We will be conducting a virtual auction this year and need your help. If you have a local business or home-based business AND would like to donate services or products for our auction, please email April Setser at or call the office at 816-359-4600. We are beginning to collect items to build our auction options for a great event.

Birthday Treats

New in the 2020-2021 school year, the Park Hill Food Service team will offer catering for classroom parties, events, and birthdays!

Below is the order form for Gerner's birthday treat. Here is the link Nutrition Services to learn more information about the many options that are available to you and your child. This form must be completed, and turned in, 2 weeks before the date you would like the treats to be given to the class.

Please note: In order to keep our Cub healthy and safe, birthday/event treats purchased outside of Park Hill School District Food Service will NOT be accepted and served to our children. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Parent Corner

Have you visited our "Parent Corner" yet? Over the course of the year, articles and resources will be posted to support the parenting process.

It is sometimes a hard time transitioning from the holidays to the rest of the winter season. There has been such a focus on things and preparation for events, that a weird emptiness can be felt. One local radio station is doing a 40 DAY KINDNESS CHALLENGE this year and I have been very interested in refocusing attention at my house on other people in a different way.

Teaching Kids Kindness is a great article to help look for ideas to help kids know how to look outward and complete tasks that help other people. If you are interested in the kindness challenge, it would be fun to brainstorm ideas with your children or use some from the article.

Staying Connected to the Park Hill School District

Park Hill School District Links

Gerner Family Early Education Center follows the Park Hill School District processes, protocols, guidelines, and policies. We want to make sure that all our families stay connected to the communication provided by the district in order to ensure everyone stays informed. The following links are available for quick access as you may need to start 2021.

Park Hill Star Awards

Do you know of a Park Hill Star? Is there someone at your child's school that you would like to nominate for a Park Hill Star award? The Park Hill Star award is presented monthly to a Pre-K or elementary teacher, a secondary teacher and a support employee. Anyone can nominate an employee for this award by using the Park Hill Star nomination form. The form will ask you to share how your nominee demonstrates our district values of continuous improvement, high expectations, integrity, visionary leadership and student focus.

If you would like to nominate an employee from Gerner, please use the link below.

January Menu

Each month's menu for our Tuition Program will be uploaded to the Park Hill School District's Food Service website. Please see January's menu below:
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Gerner Family Early Education Center

Caring Staff ~ Quality Instruction ~ Purposeful Learning