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I am a NYC teacher inspired by the the practice of the Reggio Emilia Approach. In 2005, I attended an educator’s conference in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Over the past 8 years, I have learned so much about the amazing philosophy of education that stems from this small town in Italy. There is so much that I feel Reggio has to offer us as educators. The Reggio approach to Early Childhood education is based on relationships between the child, parent, teacher, classroom and community.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:
Children must have some control over the direction of their learning.
Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing.
Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore and children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
The city of Reggio Emilia in Italy is recognized worldwide for its innovative approach to education. Its signature educational philosophy has become known as the Reggio Emilia Approach, one which many preschool programs around the world have adopted.
We want to share with you the key components to successful advocacy campaigns for children:
Heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes. That’s why the Administration for Children and Families has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger.
HHS in partnership with DOT/NHTSA have developed a voluntary Pledge Form that providers and parents may use to work together to keep children safe.
Terminating a Difficult Employee
By: Katharine Meyer
One of the most unpleasant duties of being the CEO of a non-profit organization is firing an employee. It is a difficult and stressful task regardless of whether it is the result of downsizing or poor performance. However, it becomes even more unpleasant when you have to fire the “toxic” employee; the one employee that constantly complains, is insubordinate, a gossip, unprofessional, and/or cannot work well with others.
Firing such an employee is sometimes an immediate and emotional decision. However, we have seen many of these “on the spot” firings – where an executive fires a person during a moment of frustration or anger – go wrong. Frequently, these types of firings lead to litigation, and claims of wrongful termination. While most employees are “at will” employees who can be fired at any time, an employee’s termination should ever be a rush to judgment. Instead, the termination of an employee should come at the end of a thoughtful, well-documented and transparent process. This article provides guidance as to how to properly fire a difficult employee, in order to reduce the risk of costly litigation.
1. Have a Disciplinary Process – and Follow It. When a CEO tells us that she wants to terminate an employee, our first question is whether the organization has a written disciplinary or termination policy. It is surprising how many CEOs cannot answer this question. If you have a disciplinary process, in most cases, it should be followed. If you do not have a written disciplinary process, you still need to make sure that every employee is treated fairly and consistently. For instance, let’s say you have two employees, Joe and Jane. In January, Joe is has three unexcused absences. You speak to Joe, and put a note in his file. In October, Jane also has several unexcused absences. You do not really work well with Jane, so you terminate her based on these absences. There is now a risk that Jane could claim that you discriminated against her, because she is a member of a protected class. You have now left the organization open to this kind of claim.
2. Document, Document, Document. There needs to be evidence to back up any termination. However, many supervisors dislike giving poor performance evaluations. Often times, they are afraid of the repercussions in the workplace if they give an employee a negative review. Therefore, reviews tend to be glowing, or, at worst, neutral, instead of realistic. But a supervisor is doing her association a disservice if she does not give an honest evaluation of every employee. When an employee is terminated for poor work product or conduct, but has only positive performance evaluations, it is more difficult to prove that an employee’s performance or conduct was the reason he was terminated. Therefore, make sure to meet with a problem employee early on, and explain what he has done wrong. Explain what you want him to do differently, and how you will measure his performance in the future. Also, let him know what the consequences are if he does not improve. Put a memo in the employee’s file, documenting what was said at this meeting.
3. Determine the Risks of Firing the Employee. As stated earlier, while most employees are employees “at will” and can be terminated at any time, for any reason, there are risks involved with firing certain individuals. Therefore, before firing any employee you should check to see if:
a. The person is part of a protected class? (e.g., is this person: (i) a minority, (ii) over 40, (iii) disabled; or (iv) a woman?)
b. The employee has a medical condition that would affect his work performance, such as a chronic disease or alcohol or drug addiction, which could be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act?
c. The employee has been subject to sexual harassment?
d. The employee has been properly classified as exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act?
If you believe that any of these risks apply to the employee you want to terminate, we strongly recommend that you speak with your legal counsel before firing this individual. There may be ways you can limit your liability risk prior to his termination.
4. Prepare for the Termination Meeting. Once you decide to terminate an employee, it should be done quickly. However, put some time and thought into preparing for the termination meeting. Terminating someone by phone or e-mail should be a last resort. Ideally you should terminate someone in a neutral office area, like a conference room. You should always have another high level person in the room, to witness the conversation. This conversation should then be transcribed and placed in a file. Calmly and clearly tell the person that they are terminated, and briefly explain why. Explain that they will need to return all company property, such as keycards, laptops, phones, etc. If a release agreement is being provided to the employee, usually in exchange for a severance payment, it should be given and explained to the employee at this time. The employee should then be escorted to his desk to collect his belongings, and then should be escorted out of the office. If possible, schedule this meeting at a time when many people are not in the office. First thing in the morning, the end of the day, or even lunch hour are all good options. Finally, plan ahead and make sure that the employee has no access to the organization’s servers, e-mail and computer systems once he leaves the office.
5. Execute a Release. Many companies find that it is helpful to have an employee sign a release agreement at the time of termination. This release usually states that the employee releases the company from any wrongful termination claims, in exchange for a severance payment. Make sure the severance payment is consistent with written policies and organizational practice. In exchange for a few weeks extra pay, the company gets the peace of mind that an employee will not be taking legal action against it for wrongful termination. There is certain language that needs to be included in such a release, especially if the employee you are terminating is over the age of 40. Therefore, consult with your legal counsel if you decide to have an employee sign a release at the time of his termination.
Ultimately, terminating a hostile or toxic employee needs to be done with care. Working with legal counsel and following your policies and procedures will limit the risk of future litigation.
 For any association that has progressive disciplinary procedures for employees, we recommend that your Employee Manual clearly state that such procedures will be followed by the association only when appropriate, and that the association has the right to terminate any “at will” employee at any time without following the progressive procedures. This will give the association some flexibility if it is unable to follow the progressive disciplinary procedures, or if, based on an employee’s egregious conduct, it has to terminate him immediately.
If you are interested in learning more about “Terminating a Difficult Employee,” contact Katie Meyer, GKG Law, P.C. at 202.342.6775 or email@example.com.
Pre-K Availability Varies by State (ABC News)- A new report finds wide disparities in the number of spots available for publicly funded preschool programs. A whopping 94 percent of 4-year-olds attended such a program in the District of Columbia and more than 7 out of 10 did in Florida, Oklahoma and Vermont. Ten states had no such program.In fact, even as lawmakers from both parties have embraced the idea of expanding early childhood programs, the number of children enrolled in state preschool programs saw a modest decline of about 9,200 children in the 2012-2013 school year — the first such reduction since 2002, when researchers at Rutgers University started tracking pre-K trends. Even as funding increased from a year earlier, more than half of states with programs made cuts. California alone, for example, lost nearly 15,000 slots. Overall, $5.4 billion was spent by states on pre-K funding for about 1.3 million preschoolers. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the data is a “reminder of how much work we still have to do to ensure that every child gets a running start.” Supporters say preschool programs help level the playing field for young children who enter kindergarten well behind their peers and never catch up, and members of the business community are among those advocates for preschool expansion. But the quality of such programs vary. No states require preschoolers to attend school. Some states seek to universally offer it. Others base eligibility on family income. Under some setups, a community-based program receives public dollars. Other programs are within elementary schools. While some states offer state-funded preschool to 3-year-olds, the programs are much more popular for 4-year-olds.
So what sets emotionally intelligent people apart? Here are seven habits that people with high EI have:
While not ignoring the bad news, emotionally intelligent people have made a conscious decision to not spend a lot of time and energy focusing on problems. Rather, they look at what is positive in a situation and look for solutions to a problem. These people focus on what they are able to do and that which is within their control.
People with a lot of emotional intelligence don’t spend a lot of time listening to complainers and tend to avoid negative people. They are aware negative people are an energy drain and are not willing to let others exhaust their vitality. Because they always look for solutions and the positive in situations, negative people quickly learn to avoid positive people as misery loves company.
Emotionally intelligent people spend time with others that are positive and look upon the bright side of life. You can spot these folks as they tend to smile and laugh a great deal and attract other positive people. Their warmth, openness, and caring attitude leads others look upon them as more trustworthy.
Although their friendly, open nature may make them appear as pushovers to some, people with high EI are able to set boundaries and assert themselves when needed. They demonstrate politeness and consideration but stay firm at the same time.
They do not make needless enemies. Their response to situations, in which there may be conflict, is measured, not inflated, and managed appropriately to the situation. They think before speaking and give themselves time to calm down if their emotions appear to become overwhelming. High EI people guard their time and commitments and know when they need to say no.
People with high EI are too busy thinking of possibilities in the future to spend a lot of time dwelling upon things that didn’t work out in the past. They take the learning from their past failures and apply it to their actions in the future. They never see failure as permanent or a personal reflection of themselves.
Whether it is in their workplace, at home, or with friends, high EI people know what makes them happy and look for opportunities to expand the enjoyment. They receive pleasure and satisfaction from seeing others happy and fulfilled, and do whatever they can to brighten someone else’s day.
While these enlightened people are good at moving on from the past when things didn’t work out as expected, they are also able to move on from conflicts involved with others. High EI folks don’t hold on to anger over how others have treated them, rather use the incident to create awareness of how to not let it happen again. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” is their motto. While they move on and forgive, they don’t forget and are unlikely to be taken advantage of again in the same set of circumstances.
Highly emotionally intelligent people are lifelong learners, constantly growing, evolving, open to new ideas, and always willing to learn from others. Being critical thinkers, they are open to changing their minds if someone presents an idea that is a better fit. While they are open to ideas from others, and continuously gathering new information, they ultimately trust themselves and their own judgment to make the best decision for themselves.
[Image: Flickr user André Solnik]
This is from: Preventing Childhood Obesity
in Early Care and Education Programs
Selected Standards from
Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards, 3rd edition
Categories of Foods
STANDARD: Children in care should be offered items of food from the following categories:
Making Healthy Food Choices*
Food Groups USDA† CFOC Guidelines for Young Children
Fruits All fresh, frozen, canned, dried
fruits, and fruit juices:
• Eat a variety, especially whole fruits
• Whole fruit, mashed or pureed, for infants seven months up to one year of age
• No juice before twelve months of age
• 4 to 6 oz juice /day for one- to six-year-olds
• 8 to 12 oz juice/day for seven- to twelve-year-olds
Vegetables Dark green, red, and orange;
beans and peas (legumes);
starchy vegetables; other
• Dark green, red, orange, deep yellow vegetables
• Other vegetables, including starchy ones like potatoes
• Other root vegetables, such as viandas
• Dried peas and beans (legumes)
Grains Whole grains and enriched
• Whole and enriched grains, breads, cereals, crackers, pasta, and rice
Protein Foods Seafood, meat, poultry, eggs,
nuts, seeds, and soy products
• Fish, chicken, lean meat, eggs
• Nuts and seeds (if appropriate)
• Avoid fried fish, meat, and chicken
Dairy Milk • Human milk, infant formula for infants at least up to one year of age:
• Whole milk for children ages on up to two years of age or reduced fat (2%)
milk for those at risk for obesity or hypercholesterolemia
• 1% or skim milk for children two years of age and older
• Other milks such as soy when recommended
• Other milk equivalent products such as yogurt and cottage cheese (low-fat
for children two years of age and older)
Oils Oils, soft margarines, includes
vegetable, nut, and fish oils
and soft vegetable oil table
spreads that have no trans fats:
• Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (olive oil, safflower oil)
• Soft margarines
• Avoid trans fats, saturated fats and fried foods
Limit calories (% of calories) of
these food groups
• Avoid concentrated sweets such as candy, sodas, sweetened drinks, fruit
nectars, and flavored milk
• Limit salty foods such as chips and pretzels
* All foods are assumed to be in nutrient-dense forms, lean or low-fat and prepared without added fats, sugars, or salt. Solid fats and added sugars
may be included up to the daily maximum limit identified in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
Recommends: Find your balance between food and physical activity.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2010. The Surgeon
General’s vision for a healthy and fit nation. Rockville, MD: U.S. DHHS.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department
of Agriculture. 2011. Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th ed.
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. http://www.health.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion. 2008. 2008 physical activity guidelines
for Americans. Rockville, MD: U.S. Government Printing Office. http://www.
Story, M., K. Holt, D. Sofka, eds. 2002. Bright futures in practice: Nutrition.
2nd ed. Arlington, VA: National Center for Education in Maternal and
Child Health. http://www.brightfutures.org/nutrition/pdf/frnt_mttr.pdf.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2011. MyPlate. http://www.