Early Learning Center News

L. Daniel Hutto Early Learning Center at FSDB

A Montessori Environment Where Young Children Explore, Learn and Create

December 2020
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Dates to Remember

Dec. 21-Jan. 1 - Winter Break - students return on Jan. 4

Jan. 4 - the ELC will have 2 new teachers join us!

  • Mackenzie Dirlam will be the new Teacher of the Visually Impaired
  • Delia Lozano will be a new Teacher of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing

We will share much more information about each new staff member in our January newsletter.

Jan. 18 - NO SCHOOL - Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday

Jan. 29 - NO SCHOOL - Teacher Workday

Feb. 15 - NO SCHOOL - President's Day

"Establishing lasting peace is the work of education.”

Maria Montessori


What is Peace Education?

As this crazy, unpredictable and unprecedented year of 2020 comes to a close, it's time to focus on peace. Peace for ourselves, for others and for our communities.

In our ELC classrooms, we teach peace everyday.

What is peace education?

Peace education is defined anything that teaches people how to be more peaceful with themselves, with others and with the world. In preschool, the children are learning to be calm and focused and to understand their own emotions. They are taught to identify what they are feeling and how to communicate their feelings.

If you walk into the ELC classrooms, you will feel and/or hear an excited "hum."

The children are moving around, working on projects and activities that pique their interest. Children are working at their own pace and reflecting on their work. Some children are working independently and others are working as a group. None of this happens magically. The teachers observe the children's interests and needs and make sure the children are engaged. Teachers and assistants specifically teach the children how to work in the classroom, how to watch a peer work, how to walk around a work mat and how to interrupt politely. Ongoing lessons in Grace and Courtesy help the children learn to work alongside each other as part of a peaceful community. The children learn to help each other and develop tools for peacefully resolving conflicts. The conflict resolution skills they develop help foster independence and self-confidence.

In preschool, our goals are to lay the foundation for important life and communication skills such as listening, empathy, problem solving, negotiation and tolerance. Through their work in the classroom, their experiences on the playground and around campus, and their interactions with peers and nurturing adults, ELC children are building these skills.

This holiday season, we wish you all the best and as always, thank you for sharing your children with us.

Gail, Aimee, Becca, Brooke, Karen, Laura, and Shawnna

Montessori Moments - Teaching Peace

5 Things You Can Do to Promote Peace at Home

  • Be a good role model. Children are watching and learning from you. Show compassion, forgiveness and understanding.
  • Talk about being peaceful. Peace can mean different things to different people. It can be as simple as a quiet moment. Listen to your child.
  • Practice conflict resolution skills. A peaceful way to resolve conflict is to identify feelings, such as, "You feel angry bc she took your toy" and to remind children to take turns. Talking about your own feelings will help your child learn to identify and name theirs.
  • Encourage your children to care for their environment. Watering plants, feeding pets or washing dishes helps children to understand they have important work to do as part of their family.
  • Read. The act of reading is peaceful. Keep a few "quiet" books to read at nap or bed time. Reading together has the bonus of encouraging your child's love of learning.

Peace Education in Practice on the Playground

- YouTube

Holiday Message from FSDB President

Hello FSDB students, staff, families, alumni and community members.

Every morning I wake up thankful for the blessing I have to serve as the President for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. This is an amazing school with incredible students, staff, families, alumni and stakeholders.

The holiday season is a time to be with family and friends and to be thankful for the gifts we have in our lives. I am thankful to be part of an extraordinary community that promotes a caring and giving environment. It is my hope, especially this year, that you will take the time to relax and reflect on your gifts.

The first half of the 2020-2021 school year has been unprecedented. I want to thank you for the dedication and hard work that has made our many successes possible. Every member of the FSDB team should be proud of what we have accomplished. I know we will face challenges in 2021, however, I also know that with everyone working together, we will also have triumphs.

I want to wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful and rejuvenating holiday season. Please take care of yourselves, your family and friends.

From my family to yours, all my best for the New Year.


Tracie C. Snow


Holiday Message from the President in ASL
View in ASL
Holiday Message from the President in Spoken English
View in Spoken English

New ELC Facebook Group!

In order to enhance digital security for our students and their families, we have transitioned our school Facebook page to a private group, which affords us better screening and monitoring measures. Our goal is to share information, update the community on events and programs, and showcase the achievements of students, teachers, parents and other community members in a more private and secure way.

Since this group will be private, an administrator must approve your request to join. If you would like to join the group, click the link below. Also, if you have not done so already, please like and follow the main FSDB Facebook pag.

ELC Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/fsdbearlylearningcenter

FSDB Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/fsdbk12

Transparent Classroom

Make sure you are signed up for Transparent Classroom. The teachers are posting photos of your children working, descriptions of the lessons taught, messages from teachers.....and so much more.....Please go to the ELC website https://sites.google.com/fsdbk12.org/early-learning-center/home. for more information or click the transparent classroom link here: www.transparentclassroom.com. Watch for the lessons below to show up in your child's activities! Once you are in Transparent Classroom, you are able to click on the links you are sent of your children working to learn more about the lessons they are completing.

ELC Wellness Policy

Our number one priority is to keep our students and staff healthy as we come back to school. The ELC and FSDB staff have worked tirelessly arranging the classrooms, the schedule and the routines in order to provide social distancing and a safe environment. Each day, ELC teachers and staff spend at least an hour cleaning every shelf, table and work in the classroom to try to prevent the spread of germs. The staff and children are washing their hands, using sanitizer, wearing masks and/or face shields and doing really really well distancing from each other. Everyone is doing their part to keep each other healthy. You are helping us by keeping your children home if they are showing symptoms of illness. Thanks to all of your for coming to pick up your children and for keepting them home if they are exhibiting signs of illness.

Many of you have called asking for clarification about our ELC/FSDB Wellness Policy.

Please keep in mind, none of us have ever experienced a pandemic before and we are learning everyday. It is the responsibility of our entire community to protect the health and safety of our students, staff and families.

Please click here for a detailed explanation of the ELC/FSDB Wellness Policy and please contact Gail with any additional questions or concerns.

Big picture

Parent Engagement Workshop

The third Parent Engagement Workshop (PEW) for the 2020-21 school year will be held on Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. via Zoom.

  • "President Pop In" with Tracie C. Snow, FSDB President
  • "Standards and Assessments" by Scott Trejbal, Administrator of Instructional Services
  • "Love and Logic: Choices" by Rhonda McCahill, FSDB School Counselor

    To join the meeting, visit: https://bit.ly/3ic2mb1

    Future workshops will be held on Feb. 12 and April 23. Be sure to add these dates to your calendar!

    ASL Classes in January

    FSDB Parent University is hosting two virtual sign language classes for FSDB families starting in January and continuing weekly through March. Beginner (ASL I) and intermediate (ASL II) classes are available via Zoom. Please contact the teacher if you are interested in attending.

    Beginner Class (ASL I)

    Day: Thursday, 4:00-5:00 p.m.

    Dates: Jan. 7, 14, 21, 28 | Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25 | Mar. 4, 11

    Link: https://bit.ly/3igMrJr

    For more information, contact Janelle Berry via email at berryj@fsdbk12.org

    Intermediate Class (ASL II)

    Day: Monday, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

    Dates: Jan. 4, 11, 25 | Feb. 1, 8, 22 | Mar. 1, 8

    Link: https://bit.ly/3ltsno7

    For more information, contact Sonia Garcia-DeKnight via email at garcias@fsdbk12.org

    Braille Classes

    FSDB Parent University will be offering Braille classes for FSDB families starting in January. All classes will be held via Zoom on Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m. All skill levels are welcome! Please contact your teacher if you are interested in attending.

    Class Schedule

    • Jan 20 – Alphabet Letters
    • Feb 17 – Alphabetic Word Signs
    • Mar 24 – Strong Contractions
    • Apr 21 – Strong Group Signs
    • May 26 – Strong Word Signs

    For more information, contact:

    April Wallace, Braille Specialist

    Phone: 904-827-2355


    Ways to Keep Things Festive and Fun at Home

    The holiday season is a time when families gather to celebrate. Many families may feel a disruption to traditions due to continued safety precautions and social distancing. More than ever it is important to have family chats. Talking with your children will help them better understand their emotions and will give you an opportunity to model a positive response.

    Here are some ways to keep things festive and fun at home!

    • Have a cookie decorating contest and gather votes through social media.
    • Take turns with family or friends hosting mini virtual celebrations: caroling, storytelling, and holiday movie watch parties.
    • Go crazy with decorations both inside and out.
    • Act out favorite movie scenes.

    Check out these recommendations on staying healthy this holiday.

    Contact Us:

    ELC Office

    PH or Text: 904-827-2835

    VP: 904-201-4529

    Health Care Center

    PH: 904-827-2410

    VP: 904-201-3910


    PH: 800-992-8747

    Vaill Hall (Dorm)

    PH: 904-827-2806

    VP: 904-201-4461

    Parent Services

    PH: 904-827-2212

    VP: 904-201-4527

    Campus Police

    PH: 904-827-2315

    207 San Marco Avenue,

    St. Augustine, FL, USA


    ELC Webpage

    ELC Facebook Group