Tag Archive | "Macaroni Kid"

Bridgehampton & Sag Harbor Look Forward to Students from Springs

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A handful of students from the Springs School District are poised to attend high school at Pierson Middle-High School and the Bridgehampton School this fall following a successful referendum in Springs this May that allows parents to send their high school aged children to schools other than the East Hampton High School.

High school students from Amagansett, Montauk, Sagaponack, Springs and Wainscott school districts have traditionally all attended East Hampton High School, but this year, in the face of mounting tuition costs, the districts have begun discussions about consolidation and choice. Tuition to send students to East Hampton High School is nearing $30,000 per student, per year, whereas the cost to send students to Pierson and Bridgehampton is far less.

At a Bridgehampton Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, July 28 that board signed a tuition contract for Springs School students after Bridgehampton Principal Jack Pryor announced three students from that district will definitely attend Bridgehampton this fall.

According to school board president Nicki Hemby, the tuition agreement will allow Springs high school students to attend Bridgehampton for $15,000 in the 2010-2011 school year, $17,500 for the 2011-2012 school year, $20,000 in the 2012-2013 school year and $22,500 in the 2013-2014 school year.

The Springs School District will have to use the New York State Education Department’s Seneca Galls formula to calculate tuition for any Springs student with special education needs that would like to attend high school at Bridgehampton.

According to Hemby, Bridgehampton has agreed to accept a maximum of six students per grade level from Springs, and enrollment remains open.

On Tuesday, Sag Harbor School District Dr. John Gratto and Pierson Middle-High School Principal Jeff Nichols confirmed they also have three or four students from Springs interested in attending high school in Sag Harbor.

According to nonresident tuition rates established by that school district’s board of education, the tuition rate for Springs high school students to attend Pierson is $21,080. While there is no expiration on that tuition rate, Dr. Gratto said on Tuesday the board of education has reserved the right to raise that rate by up to 2.5 percent.

He added this year, all incoming students from Springs will be freshmen, and therefore will not affect class size. Gratto said per grade, without affecting services or requiring more teachers, Pierson can absorb roughly 10 Springs students per high school grade.

Nichols said he and Gratto made two presentations to board members and parents from Springs School in an effort to attract students to Sag Harbor.

“We had probably about six to 10 different families visit and tour the school,” said Nichols, who added convincing parents to take such a big leap, moving their children into a new school district, and largely away from the peer group they have attended elementary and middle school with could be a tough sell; but as students attending Pierson return to Springs with positive experiences, it will become an easier task.

Bridgehampton is seeing a diverse group of Springs residents coming into their high school this fall, according to Pryor. One is a freshman, another is a student who has already attended East Hampton High School and the last is a Springs resident who has been a student at the Hayground School and will not complete high school at Bridgehampton.

Pryor gave credit to Springs School Superintendent Mike Hartner for opening up the dialogue about choice in the regional education system.

“Congratulations to him for understanding that choice is something we have to look at,” said Pryor.

Like Nichols, Pryor said he expects interest in Bridgehampton from Springs students will increase as time goes on, and he expects a second round of tours and visits from interested parents as the school year approaches.

“Historically, there is a lot of movement after August 15 as far as people wanting to register for school in the fall,” he said.

“This is a very positive opportunity for all districts,” agreed Hemby. “Children learn differently in different settings. It is a refreshing option for parents on all fronts.”

Hemby added she believes Bridgehampton School is a “diamond in the rough,” offering individually focused education opportunities, which may be attractive for parents looking for a more intimate education for their children. “It is an excellent learning facility with hands-on teaching,” said Hemby. “We do not see our children as a “student body” but rather as individuals — individuals with strengths and weaknesses that are both acknowledged and strengthened.

Puppets, Banjos & Balls, Oh My!

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Julie Resnick and her daughters Mae and Chloe, and Joyce Shulman with daughter Maddie enjoy the Dreamlike Puppet Theatre’s “Three Bears and Three Pigs” at Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre last Saturday.

As a parent, Joyce Shulman experienced first-hand the necessity for parents of young children to find community.

“I think we were built to live with a larger sense of community,” Shulman said at “the Goat” on Monday. “Bringing a sense of community and giving parents the ability to connect with each other – Liz does this so well. I think it’s also good for our well-being.”

The “Liz,” Shulman refers to is puppeteer Liz Joyce, and “the Goat” is Joyce’s Sag Harbor-based Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre, located on the lower level of the Christ Episcopal Church’s parish hall.

Joyce’s puppet theatre, one of only 50 established theatres in the United States, performs puppet shows every Saturday featuring Joyce’s own talent as well as performances by puppeteers from across the country. Joyce also hosts puppet playgroups on Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings for parents and children three and under, and Tot Art, an hour of crafts on Fridays for children two to four years old, in addition to special events like the celebration of the National Day of Puppetry on April 24, and this Saturday’s Bambini Ball, a fundraiser for the not-for-profit theatre.

Shulman has regularly attended Goat on a Boat with her two children, Mason and Maddie, for the last seven years.

“It’s a community place as well as a theatre and a lot of that is because of Liz’s personality and what she has to offer,” said Shulman, co-founder of Macaroni Kid, an online newsletter detailing regional, family-friendly activities.

Goat on a Boat draws throngs of families with children of all ages to Sag Harbor each Saturday, and Joyce’s Puppet Playgroups allow a younger audience to begin to appreciate theatre, music and the arts, while also giving parents an opportunity to connect with their children, and each other.

Developed in 2001 at the urging of several Goat on a Boat devotees, Joyce said she started out using free play with toys, playing music with her banjo, and developing a puppet series around Minky the Monkey – a puppet now so familiar with regulars that shrieks of joy can be heard when he appears on stage. Joyce has also developed a series of original songs built around stimulating activities designed to keep her young audience as engaged and focused as is possible, given their age range.

“With theatre, they hear sound, they think about what the sound is – their minds are filling in a lot of the gaps,” said Joyce. “The thing I love about it is afterwards, they go home and they talk about Minky. They start making up their own stories, and their own characters.”

The playgroup teaches children not only to appreciate art and theatre, but also the ability to sit and enjoy theatre.

“The nice thing is they do these playgroups and come back to weekend shows with the ability to enjoy them,” said Joyce.

Joyce takes pride in bringing shows to Goat on a Boat that local families might not have access to without a trip to Manhattan or beyond, like Gustafer Yellowgold and puppeteer Tom Knight. Joyce said that fundraisers like this Saturday’s Bambini Ball make all of it possible.

“It has this really creative, light hearted energy,” said Shulman of the ball. “Last time, my kids danced and played for the entire evening while I enjoyed a glass of wine and caught up with old friends.”

The family friendly Bambini Ball will feature a red carpet for parents and children alike to strut their stuff, adorned in their favorite costume or gown, as well as food, drinks, a live auction, dancing under a disco ball and maybe even a fire juggler.

“You have the ability as a parent to be in a party atmosphere where your children are having a ball, no pun intended, and you can hang out and participate in Liz’s goofy activities,” said Shulman. “It’s just got a great vibe.”

The Goat on the Boat’s puppet shows are every Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. It’s Puppet Playgroup is held Monday, Thursday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. and Tot Art Fridays are at 10:30 a.m. The Bambini Ball will be held Saturday, March 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Christ Episcopal Church parish hall on East Union Street, Sag Harbor. The cost is $10 for children, $30 for adults. For more information on the ball, or activities at Goat on a Boat, visit http://goatonaboat.org.

Macaroni Kid Finds National Audience

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They call their dynamic “a Lucy and Ethel relationship,” but unlike many of Lucy’s harebrained ideas, Joyce Shulman found an unfulfilled niche in her concept for an extremely local, free, online newsletter for kid and family-friendly activities in the Hamptons. With her Ethel, Bridgehampton-resident Nicki Hemby, working by her side and Shulman’s husband Eric Cohen, in a year-and-a-half their business — Macaroni Kid — has become a go-to resource for parents on the South Fork and beyond. “Publisher moms” nationwide are operating their own Macaroni Kid websites ensuring parents will never have to worry about what to do on a rainy Saturday again.

Macaroni Kid began over dinner and a bottle of wine at Shulman’s Water Mill home. Hemby, recently returned to the East End after living in Florida, was once employed by Shulman and met with the mother of two to catch up after several years a part.

“I had not seen her in seven years and within an hour-and-a-half we had started a business,” said Shulman.

The idea had been in the back of Shulman’s mind for several years. As a mother herself, she saw a need for a “hyper-local,” weekly resource for parents looking for activities, classes and programming for their children.

“Busy moms and parents do not have time to parse through it all,” she said. “I believed if we built it, they would come.”

Hampton Kid debuted in May of 2008, but quickly, after garnering great reviews from local parents, Shulman, Cohen and Hemby realized creating a way to market this to other communities, and other parents, was possible without taxing the time of the already busy trio.

“The key element was to find terrific publisher moms,” said Shulman. “It allows these moms to build their own business and one of my favorite things is we are building an incredible network of publisher moms. They are single mothers, they are married, they are breast cancer survivors, they worked and are now at home, or have always stayed home with their kids.”

Macaroni Kid has so far included over 50 publisher moms. In addition to the Hamptons Macaroni Kid, there is Manhattan East Side Macaroni Kid, a San Fernando Valley Macaroni Kid, a San Diego Macaroni Kid and a Wichita Macaroni Kid, and that is just to name a few. According to Hemby, the company is reeling in two to three new publisher moms a week.

“A lot of it is word of mouth,” she said. “When you are getting something you like as a parent and you are happy, you tell your friends about it.”

Publisher moms are responsible for their local content and Hemby provides them with weekly suggested content that applies to parents and kids nationwide, for instance this week’s piece on flu prevention, or arts and crafts activities and book reviews. Publisher moms decide what of that they wish to publish.

“We don’t want to be down their throats about it,” said Shulman. “We try to be as supportive as we can be. We do encourage our publisher moms to publish every week, ideally on the same day and time so you become what parents rely on and that is when they really start sharing your service with their friends.”

Shulman said Macaroni Kid is hopeful for its first publisher dad, and already boasts what she calls publisher-mimis – grandmothers running their own Macaroni Kid website.

Publisher moms pay the company a monthly hosting fee of $59 for which they also receive technical support from Cohen, who also recruits new moms into the business. From there, any additional revenue the site earns from its nine available advertising slots is the publisher mom’s to keep.

“We have publisher moms who like the platform and don’t aggressively pursue advertising and we have publisher moms who are in it to make some money,” said Shulman. “They set their own rates and we are here if they need us for any advice.”

Macaroni Kid does require its sites to comply with privacy guidelines and asks that content be restricted to kid and family-friendly editorial. It also, said Shulman, aims to be inclusive of all kinds of families.

One aspect of the Hamptons Macaroni Kid both Hemby and Shulman hope to expand on is focusing on the individual achievements of local children.

“Please, let us know about your kids,” said Hemby. “We want to highlight their accomplishments.”

While the Macaroni Kid offices in Water Mill may be a little hectic in the summer, Shulman, Cohen and Hemby maintain a focus on their own children, in addition to the schedules of children across the South Fork.

“Nicki is an extrodinary mother and she gives very sage advice and part of it is to not sweat the small stuff,” said Shulman. “You are not doing your kids any favors by making sure all things are perfect and you don’t have to worry about them every second of the day. They are okay.”

“And if not, you’ll get a call,” laughed Hemby. “Just keep checking your phone.”

For more information on Hamptons Macaroni Kid, visit hamptons.macaronikid.com