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District Goes Back to Basics

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglass

In an era dominated by fast-paced lifestyles, and drive-by human interactions, the district’s goal is to go back to the basics of toddler learning and development to help families raise confident, caring, sociable and well-adjusted global citizens.  Significantly, Mount Vernon School District recognizes that the formative years of a child from birth to age 3 are the most important as eighty percent of the brain’s overall development takes place during that time.  Noted researcher, Ronald Ferguson first developed the five principles coined as the Boston Basics.

The Mount Vernon City School District is one of the first districts in the United States to adopt these five principles into a systemic program. The goal of the Mount Vernon Basics (Basics) is to collaborate with families of infants and toddlers ages 0 to 3, by providing resources and strategies for how to best raise resilient, and emotionally intelligent children. The five principles of the Mount Vernon Basics are:

  1. Maximize love, and manage stress: Provide toddlers with a feeling of love and safety in their surroundings. Avoid stress when you can, and use effective strategies to cope with stress when you can’t.
  2. Talk, sing, and point: Teach your toddlers the power of language and use tone to let them know when you are having positive versus stern talks.
  3. Count, group, and compare: Use fun and simple activities to build foundational math skills.
  4. Explore through movement and play. Encourage your child to explore the world around him or her.
  5. Read and discuss stories: Read often and expose your child to different types of books.

Since the implementation of the Mount Vernon Basics program in March 2018, the district established strategic partnerships with the My Brother’s Keepers Initiative, local hospitals, faith-based organizations, libraries, early childhood centers, community based organizations, homeless shelters and after-school programs to make the program accessible to all Mount Vernon families with children from 0 to age 3. Families participating in the Mount Vernon Basics obtain information and resources in their preferred language, eg., English, Spanish or Haitian Creole. The district remains resolute in its efforts to make the Basics accessible in all of the major languages spoken by district families. With the assistance of the various partners, over 125 families have participated in the Mount Vernon Basics so far.

The Office of School Improvement, under the leadership of Dr. Waveline Bennett-Conroy, serves as the district liaison for the Mount Vernon Basics program.  Focused on the mission of empowering families to support their children’s academic and social-emotional well-being, Mrs. Lynda Tarantino, a current second-grade teacher at Pennington School serves as the Coordinator of the Basics. Mrs. Patricia James and Mrs. Sandra O’Connor, district parent liaisons, provide targeted support to the district-wide implementation of the Basics. 

The district looks forward to welcoming all families with students in grades Pre-K to 2 for the first anniversary celebration of the Mount Vernon Basics on March 8, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Families will participate in exciting and fun learning activities with their children. The celebration will take place at Friendship for TOTS located at 61 E Lincoln Ave, Mt Vernon, NY 10552.