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• Incorporators
• First Board of Directors
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• 1995-1999 Highlights
• 2000-2005 Highlights
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2011-2012 Highlights
2012-2013 Highlights


Our History
2012 - 2013 Highlights


  • Early Childhood, our 16-page newsletter, continues to be well-received. We publish over 4,000 issues which are distributed through our member schools and organizations, to a small subscription base, and at pediatrician offices, real estate offices, and other local venues.
  • By asking our speakers to contribute articles, we are able to include up-to-date research and information written by nationally-known early childhood experts including, this year: Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Dr. Diane Levin, and Dr. Eve-Marie Arce.
  • B. J. Kass stepped down as the author of her books column, “B. J. Books.” With the Spring-Summer 2013 issue, Bronwyn Parhad began writing her books column, “It’s Never Too Early to Read.”


  • Dr. Diane Levin spoke to parents on Friday, Jan. 25. Her topic was “Beyond the Screen: Helping Girls and Boys Grow Up in a Media-Saturated World.” Over 75 attended.
  • On April 11, The Alliance, FAN, and other schools and organizations, co-sponsored a talk by Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, entitled “Einstein Never Used Flashcards: Learning In and Out of School.” It was held at North Shore Country Day school with about 250 attending.
  • A panel on the topic of Redshirting was held on Tuesday, April 23. Panelists included: Dr. Samuel J. Meisels, Dr. Mary Frances Greene, Kathy Hardy, Sharon Sprague, Tracey McDowell, Jenn Matuska, and Kari Wendt – all with varying opinions and experiences about redshirting as educators and parents. Over 120 attended this important event.
  • This year we are asking attendees to preregister for our programs, even though they are free. It is a good way to collect emails and also gives us an idea of how many will attend each program.
  • Stephanie Figlioli taught three sessions of the American Red Cross Babysitting Course, in November, March, and June. The successful format of an all-day Saturday class, with pizza lunch provided, continues. All classes have been fully enrolled.


Networking Breakfast: Directors, principals, and heads of our member schools and organizations gathered in September for our annual Networking Breakfast, held again at Loli DiSanto’s house. It is a great chance to meet and welcome new school leaders.

Networking Dinner: The 23rd Annual Networking Event was held at Holy Comforter Church’s Great Hall, Kenilworth, on Thursday, Jan. 24th, chaired once again by Jenn Matuska and Shelley Pantelic. New this year was music provided by the North Shore Quintet, a group of New Trier freshmen. Dr. Diane Levin’s topic was, “Beyond Remote Control Teaching and Learning: The Special Challenges of Promoting Optimal Learning and Development in Today’s World.” For the 10th year, educators receiving Teacher Tributes were featured in a Power Point presentation before the program. With 182 teachers and administrators attending, this was our largest Networking Dinner ever! Avli again catered the delicious dinner.

ScreenBreak: ScreenBreak 2013, our 19th week, was held from Sunday, March 3 to Saturday, March 9. Project Manager Jenny Ryer led this enormous, community effort, with the support of board committees, including: Activity/Sponsor Committee- Gretchen Ake, Beth Beeler, Kristy Burden, Loli DiSanto, Kirsten Hesby, Linnea Johnson, Betsy Kochvar, Suzanne Neilson, Kathy Newlands, Kate Shapiro, and Mollie Vanderlaan; Drawing Contest – Erin Blitz and Beth Kauffmann; Publicity – Karen Beil; Events – Clarissa Hawk, Calle Hutchen, and Julie Zimmerman. Book and Toy Fair – Andrea Carolus and Gina Matthews. Materials Distribution – Carrie Hughes; and Guide Proofing – Georgie Geraghty and Marina Adams. Over 5,000 children in 30 schools in Winnetka, Northfield, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Glencoe, and Highland Park participated. This year’s theme was “Screens Off. Play On!”

  • Wristbands and Buttons: 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. We did not provide extra copies of guides, buttons, and wristbands in depositories this year. Instead, parents could order a “ScreenBreak kit” for $10, which included a guide and button or wristband. Libby Joyce handled this distribution. We made $65 on the sale of kits this year.
  • Guide: 5000 copies of the 64-page Guide were produced. Additional media info and “at home” activity ideas were well-received. The Guide was not posted on the website this year, to encourage schools to become members of The Alliance.
  • Events: The Kick Off Event was Sky Squad, an exciting, high-energy show. 320 tickets were sold. The event was underwritten by the Winnetka Park District, which also provided characters, a raffle, and handouts. Drawing contest winners were honored before the show. The Fabulous Friday Fun Event was a performance of “The Fabulous Fable Factory” by American Eagle Productions. 112 tickets were sold. There was no underwriter. Tickets were $7.50 in advance/$9 at the door.
  • Drawing contest: 150 entries this year. A successful workshop to encourage drawing entries for the contest was held at the library.
  • PR: Great press in the local papers this year.

Let’s Play Initiative:

  • 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. Boxes of “loose parts” was available to spark children’s creative play. The Kohl Children’s Museum loaned its Imagination Playground to be used for two of the days. Libraries provided story hours each day.
  • In November, Blakely Bundy, Robin VanderMolen, and Liza Sullivan joined Joan Almon to present a workshop at the NAEYC conference in Atlanta entitled, “Promoting Play in a Race to Nowhere World.” Over 250 attended this workshop (standing room only), which was well-received.
  • The First Days of Summer Park-a-Day Challenge will be held from Monday, June 10 through Sunday, June 16. Parks in Winnetka, Kenilworth, Northfield, Wilmette, and Glencoe will participate. The libraries will provide story hours each day. The Kohl Children’s Museum will provide their Imagination Playground equipment on Monday, June 10.
  • The Alliance collaborated with the Winnetka Park District and Backyard Nature Center to sponsor an overnight family camping experience in Crow Island Woods on June 22-23.

Special Needs Roundtable: Co-chaired by Margaret Pinnow and Kathy Marquardt, the Special Needs Roundtable sponsored two programs:

On Friday, Feb. 22 in the morning, the Special Needs Roundtable sponsored a program for parents entitled, “All You Ever Needed to Know about Speech and Language Development in Young Children.” Speakers were Stacey Wellman, speech therapist at Greeley School, and Sue Singerman, speech therapist in private practice.

That same afternoon, the same therapists spoke to teachers. Their topic was “Communication, Cognition, Collaboration: A Teachers’ Guide to Speech and Language Issues in the Preschool and Early Elementary Classroom.”

Twins and Multiples Roundtable: The Twins and Multiples Roundtable was launched in October with two programs presented by Dr. Eve-Marie Arce, a nationally-known expert on twins and multiples. “Teaching Twins and Multiples” for educators was held on Thurs., Oct. 18 and “Twins, Triplets, and More!” a program for parents, was held on Fri., Oct. 19. Both were held at the Great Hall at the Holy Comforter Church, with approximately 75 attending each. Dr. Arce also wrote an article about twins and multiples in school for the Spring-Summer newsletter.

Pat Wroclawski Collection: The 565 volumn collection had a total of 1,386 circulations between Nov. 2012 and May 2013.

In April, Executive Director Blakely Bundy was honored by the Winnetka-Northfield Chamber of Commerce as its Educator of the Year. She was nominated by District 36, facilitated by Trisha Kocanda and Thomas Hagerman.

In April, Blakely Bundy announced that she would be starting the transition to step down as The Alliance’s Executive Director. A Search Committee was formed, under the chairmanship of incoming President Robin VanderMolen.

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

  • The Preschool and Kindergarten Articulation meeting was hosted at Crow Island School on April 25. The articulation focused on Common Core State Standards and the implications for early childhood education. There was a short presentation by Trisha Kocanda and Judith Campbell, followed by an open Q&A session. Approximately 35 teachers and preschool directors participated in this successful event. The recommendation included offering more events like during the school year.
  • 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 25-30 parents (and about 12 children) 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. It was another great turnout. We continued the tradition of emailing an invitation to registered kindergarten families. As always, this was an extremely positive and worthwhile event.

E-Communication and PR: We have 187 fans on our Facebook page, maintained by Stephanie Fox. Through Constant Contact, we send e-messages about upcoming events and are collecting emails on all written communication. We currently have nearly 800 active emails.

Annual Fund and Teacher Tributes: This is the eleventh year of our very successful Teacher Tribute program, as part of the Annual Fund campaign. For the fiscal year ending 9/30/12, 286 Teacher Tributes were made, representing 179 different teachers. In May 2013, we sent out 2,627 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 191 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 $56,208 in the fiscal year ending 9/30/12.
  • For the year beginning 10/1/13, we have taken in $41,151, including 213 Teacher Tributes (as of 5-16-13). • For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2012, the Alliance had a profit of $12,021.71, up from the previous year’s profit of $2,370.05. We had projected a loss of $8,000. Our outstanding annual campaign and Screen Break income contributed to this large profit.
  • As of May 13, 2013, ScreenBreak income is $18,344, down from last fiscal year. Screen Break expenses are $339 over budget. Low ticket sales at the opening and closing events contributed to this outcome.
  • Screen Break fundraisers by Marion Michael, Lensworks, Homemade Pizza Co., and McDonald’s brought in $1,268.
  • Our Parenting Programs have been a success this year, bringing in income of $2,070 so far this year. This is well over the anticipated $800 in our budget. This is thanks to contributions from those attending the programs as well as sponsorship from Northern Trust and a couple of generous board members. Parenting Program expenses were high too, at $3,118. Still, revenues from Parenting are right in line with our budget expectations.
  • The Newsletter has revenues of $4,927 so far this fiscal year.
  • We received a $5,000 grant from the Kenilworth United Fund, up from $4,000 last year.
  • The Alliance has nine Partners this year.

Fund Committee: The balance in the Alliance Endowment Fund at 4-30-2013 was $109,910.81, down slightly from $110,772.20 at 4-30-2012. Investment income earned on the Fund remains minimal due to continuing historically low Interest rates on the risk-free CDs in which the Fund is invested. During the past twelve months, $1,100 was disbursed from the Fund to cover the capital costs associated with the redesign of the ScreenBreak logo.

Current Committees: Communications, Executive, Fund Raising/Development, Fund, Let’s Play, Networking, Program, ScreenBreak, Search Committee, Special Needs Roundtable, Transition to Kindergarten, Twins and Multiples Roundtable, and Pat Wroclawski Collection.

Member Organizations: New Associate Member organizations include Glencoe Park District, Ravinia Nursery School (Highland Park), and Wilmette Child Development Center. St. Joseph’s School withdrew as an Associate Member.