Member Schools & Organizations

Membership Requirements

Current Board Members

Our History

• Incorporators
• First Board of Directors
• Presidents
• 1989-1994 Highlights
• 1995-1999 Highlights
• 2000-2005 Highlights
• 2005-2006 Highlights
• 2006-2007 Highlights
• 2007-2008 Highlights
• 2008-2009 Highlights
• 2009-2010 Highlights
• 2010-2011 Highlights
2011-2012 Highlights
• 2012-2013 Highlights


Our History
2011 - 2012 Highlights

Rebranding. The successful rebranding effort, as we moved from the Winnetka Alliance to The Alliance for Early Childhood and from TV Tune Out Week to ScreenBreak, continued over the summer and into the fall, with designs provided by Karen Miller. Karen and Blakely redesigned the newsletter over the summer. The new ScreenBreak logo was adopted in the fall. A challenge for the year for all of us was to be sure that every publication, letter, poster, or email was updated with the new names for The Alliance and ScreenBreak!

Website: With a new URL ( to reflect our new name and a new look; the updated website went live in October. It is easier to navigate and seasonal photos on the home page keep it looking fresh. In March, a new feature, “Ask the Mediatrician,” was added; Dr. Michael Rich of the Center for Media and Child Health, answers parents’ questions about children’s use of media.

Preschool Expo: The eighth annual Preschool Expo (name changed from the Preschool Fair) was held on Mon., Oct.3 at the Winnetka Community House for the second year. Twenty-nine schools and children’s programs participated, under the leadership of Kari Wendt. Despite lots of publicity, only about 25 parents/couples attended. After discussions at Board and Exec meetings and polling the preschool directors, we realize that most parents are “shopping” for preschools on the internet and we decided to discontinue the Preschool Expo in the future.


  • Stephanie Figlioli taught five sessions of the American Red Cross Babysitting Course, two at Sacred Heart School (October and April) and two with open enrollment (July, November, and another planned for June, 2012). The successful format of an all-day Saturday class, with pizza lunch provided, continued.
  • On November 3, Kathy Hardy and Blakely Bundy presented “Affluenza: The Rewards and Challenges of Teaching and Raising Young Children in Affluent Communities” at the NAEYC conference in Orlando, FL. Over 250 educators attended.
  • On November 17, Dr. Ken Ginsburg spoke to an audience of approximately 160 early childhood parents and professionals about “Building Resilience in Early Childhood: It’s Not a Choice Between Happiness, Play, and Success!” in a program co-sponsored with FAN.
  • On January 27, Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige spoke to parents about “Raising Creative and Compassionate Kids in Today’s Pressure-Filled World.” The free program was held at Sacred Heart School. Approximately 50 attended. Dr. Carlsson-Paige had spoken to professionals the night before at the Networking Dinner.
  • On June 5, Blakely Bundy will present “Modern Grandparenting,” in collaboration with the Women’s Exchange.
  • Joan Almon spoke in October and Mike Lanza will speak in May. Check the Let’s Play bullet point for details.
  • We began offering CPDUs for all of our programs this year.

Let’s Play Initiative: It was a very busy year for this committee, chaired by Robin VanderMolen and Liza Sullivan.

  • In June, 2011, the committee met with Joan Almon. Staff from the Winnetka and Northfield Park Districts also attended.
  • The Last Days of Summer Park-a-Day Challenge during the week before school began was successfully held at parks in Winnetka, Wilmette, Northfield, Kenilworth, and Glencoe. A box of “loose parts” was available to spark children’s creative play.
  • On October 5, Joan Almon presented two workshops at the Winnetka Community House – “Encouraging Child-Directed, Creative Free Play” from 9:30-11 for parents and “A Workshop on Play: Encouraging Child-Directed, Creative Free Play in Your Classroom or Program” for early childhood professionals from 11:30-1. Over 50 attended each session.
  • We successfully co-sponsored the Afterschool Recess pilot program at Hubbard Woods School with the Winnetka Park District in six-week sessions held during the fall and spring.
  • On May 24, Mike Lanza will present “Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood into a Place for Play,” in a program co-sponsored with the Winnetka, Kenilworth, and Northfield Park Districts.
  • The First Days of Summer Park-a-Day Challenge will be held from Monday, June 11 through Sunday, June 17. Parks in Winnetka, Kenilworth, Northfield, Wilmette, and Glencoe will participate. The libraries will provide story hours most days. The Kohl Children’s Museum will provide their Imagination Playground equipment on Monday, June 11.

Special Needs Roundtable: In its third year and co-chaired by Margaret Pinnow and Kathy Marquardt, the Special Needs Roundtable sponsored four programs:

  • Sept. 23: “When You Think a Child May Have Special Needs: Questions, Answers, and Strategies for the Early Childhood Educator.” The panel of experts included: Mark Ditthardt, Director of Pupil Services, Winnetka Public Schools; Susan Hans, Parent Mentor, NSSED; Josh Levin, M.D., pediatrician; and Micki Somerman, developmental therapist and former Director, Northbrook Community Nursery School. Moderated by Kathy Marquardt. The event was held at All Things Bright and Beautiful Preschool, Kenilworth. Approximately 40 attended.
  • Oct. 13: “Communication with Parents of Special Needs Students” featured a panel of parents of children with special needs. It was held at Crow Island School. Approximately 15-20 teachers attended.
  • Dec. 2: “Understanding Sensory Integration Issues: Questions, Answers and Strategies for the Early Childhood Educator” featured Jody Miller, OTR/L. It was held at all Things Bright and Beautiful Preschool, with an attendance of approximately 40.
  • Feb. 24: “Serving ALL Children in the Early Childhood Classroom: Part II” featured a parent of NSSED experts including Janice Schuler, Jackie Smith, Caryl Slavin, and Lisa Dreyer. Approximately 30 teachers attended this event, again held at ATBB.
  • The Special Needs Roundtable is surveying teachers and administrators in May about topics, dates, and times for next year’s programs.

Networking Event: The 22nd Annual Networking Event was held at Holy Comforter Church’s Great Hall, Kenilworth, on Thursday, Jan. 26th, chaired by Jenn Matuska and Shelley Pantelic. The sale of the Winnetka Woman’s Club necessitated the location change, but everyone was thrilled with the beautifully appointed Great Hall! The speaker was Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige of Lesley University. Her topic was: “Taking Back Childhood: Challenging Times for Children and Teachers.” For the 9th year, educators receiving Teacher Tributes were featured in a Power Point presentation before the program. Over 150 teachers and administrators attended. Avli again catered the delicious dinner.

Preschool Survey: In January, The Alliance conducted an expanded survey (formerly the Salary Survey) of Standard, Affiliate, and Associate Members about such issues as salaries, benefits, fund raising, registration, class sizes, and other topics on Survey Monkey, with input from Mary Johnson and Kathy Marquardt in shaping the questions. We shared the comprehensive results with the 16 participating schools.

ScreenBreak: The newly renamed ScreenBreak, our 18th week, was held from Sunday, March 4 to Saturday, March 10. New Project Manager Jenny Ryer led this enormous, community effort, with the support of Board co-chairs, including: Kristen Hesby, materials; Loli DiSanto and Betsy Kochvar, activities; Kathy Newlands and Gretchen Ake, sponsors; Clarissa Hawk, events; Deirdre Franklin, PR; and Cristin Duffy and Erin Blitz, drawing contest. Over 5,000 children in 30 schools in Winnetka, Northfield, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Glencoe, and Glenview participated. The theme was “Change Your Routine – Turn Off Your Screens.”

  • Wristbands and Buttons: New wristbands and buttons were designed and ordered this year, reflecting the new name. Wristbands were again given to elementary and middle school kids; preschoolers received ScreenBreak buttons. A card on the back of the Guide could be used if a button or wristband was lost.
  • Guide: There were 100 activity participants and 35 financial sponsors. For the first time, the ads were placed throughout the guide, not alphabetically in the middle, as previously. The Guide was 56 pages; 5,200 copies were produced.
  • Events: The Kick Off Event was The Chinese Acrobats, held in the Washburne gym. It was underwritten by the Winnetka Park District. Over 500 attended. Drawing contest winners were honored before the show. “Fabulous Friday Fun Event” was a performance of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” by American Eagle Productions, underwritten by the Kohl Children’s Museum. Over 200 attended.
  • PR: New yard signs and banners were ordered, reflecting the new name and logo.

Transition to Kindergarten: The Alliance hosted two events in the spring to support the transition to Kindergarten.

  • The Preschool and Kindergarten Articulation was hosted at Hubbard Woods School on April 26. Structured as a panel discussion, seven kindergarten teachers from public and private schools fielded questions from the audience. Approximately 32 teachers and preschool directors participated. The recommendation for next year would be to continue the panel was well-received!
  • The Alliance also hosted a transition to kindergarten meeting for Winnetka Public School families on May 2nd. Trisha Kocanda, Assistant Superintendent, and Daniel Ryan, Principal of Hubbard Woods School, introduced 25 parents (and 7 youngsters) to the District's play-based kindergarten philosophy. The presentation included many pictures of kindergarteners learning and playing to help parents see "the magic" in action. This year, we emailed an invitation to registered kindergarten families and recommend this practice as it quadrupled our attendance from last year.

E-Communication and PR: We have 134 fans on our Facebook page, which is maintained by Stephanie Fox. This year, we began using Constant Contact to send e-messages about upcoming events to those who provide us with their emails. With school newsletters restricting our ability to advertise in them, we are relying more on board members to email their friends and contacts about upcoming events.

Annual Fund and Teacher Tributes: This is the tenth year of our very successful Teacher Tribute program, as part of the Annual Fund campaign. For the fiscal year ending 9/30/11, 259 Teacher Tributes were made, representing 168 different teachers. In May 2012, we sent out 2,684 annual appeal letters, with every letter personalized by board members and staff. Additional letters were send to every Member School and Organization, Associate Member school, Board member, Advisory Board, Presidents’ Council, Sustainer, and Emeritus Board member–a total of 106 letters, which were personalized by Blakely Bundy and Tracey McDowell. Libby Joyce continues to lead this vital effort, finding new ways to streamline and improve the process each year.

The highlights of the Alliance’s financial results for the past year include:

  • The annual campaign took in $51,986.55 in the fiscal year ending 9/30/11.
  • For the year beginning 10/1/12, we have taken in $37,480, including 189 Teacher Tributes (as of 5-15-12).
  • For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011, the Alliance had a profit of $2,370.05, down from the previous year’s profit of $12,367.24. We had projected a loss of $8,000. We had an extraordinary annual campaign, in addition to raising more through our Programs than we had budgeted.
  • As of May 9, 2012 ScreenBreak has taken in $25,588, $2,381 more than budgeted. We came in $103 under budgeted expenses.
  • Photo project has brought in $1,400.
  • New ScreenBreak fundraiser, sponsored by Homemade Pizza Co. added $495 in income.
  • Preschool Expo brought in $2,075.
  • Newsletter brought in $13,607, $1,900 over budget.
  • $4,000 grant from the Kenilworth United Fund, up from $3,000 last year.
  • The number of Alliance Partners is 10, up from eight last year.

Fund Committee: The balance in the Alliance Endowment Fund at 4-30-2012 was $110,772.20, down from $124,835.46 at 4-30-2011. Interest rates continue to be at historic lows on the risk-free CDs in which the fund is invested so the investment income earned on the fund remains minimal. A total of $15,400 was disbursed from the Fund during the past twelve months to cover the capital costs associated with our name change and rebranding effort, including the redesign of the Alliance logo, as well as the logo for ScreenBreak, and the redesign and updating of the website.

Current Committees: Communications, Executive, Fund Raising/Development, Fund, Let’s Play, Networking, Preschool Expo (to be discontinued), Program, ScreenBreak, Special Needs Roundtable, Transition to Kindergarten, and Pat Wroclawski Collection.

Member Organizations: New member organizations include Kenilworth Park District and North Shore Special Recreation District (NSSRA). St. Elisabeth’s Nursery School has closed and, therefore, is no longer an Associate Member. Rose Hall Montessori rejoined The Alliance in the fall, as an Associate Member. Harkness House for Children and Christian Heritage Academy changed their status from Standard Member to Associate Member.