Neck Of the Woods Purchases Former Small Dog Building
Neck of the Woods has closed on the former Small Dog Electronics building which means we can officially call this beautiful property our home! We have already created magic and memories here, and are excited for all of the amazing things to come!

We could fill a book with names of all the people and organizations who helped us purchase our new campus. For now, we would like to thank: Sheila Getzinger, the NOW Board of Directors, The Mad River Valley Community Fund, Small Dog Electronics, Vermont Community Loan Fund, and Jamieson Insurance.

Russ Bennett of Northland Design and Construction has drafted plans for NOW's future (see below). His hopes, dreams, and vision for NOW truly surpass and exceed all of our expectations. We are so grateful to have Russ on our team.
Vermont Business Roundtable issues statement of support for investments into ages 0-5 early childhood education
"Vermont’s workers are challenged to find affordable high-quality childcare."

Outdoor Education at NOW
Last month in our Outdoor Education program, we learned to do many new things. 

The first week of January, we learned how Inuit tribes across the Arctic used to live in igloos. We learned the science behind how cold snow packed in snow can create a warm habitat for humans. We put this knowledge to the test when our students competed in building an igloo of their own that could provide them with warmth and protection from winter weather and predators. We judged their igloo masterpieces on creativity, and the teamwork they used to build them. 

The second week of Outdoor Education, we learned about the five different kingdoms of living things. We focused on two of the kingdoms during our two-mile walk down the Mad River Path. On our walk, we identified animal tracks and made educated guesses on what animals left them by looking at the size, shape, and direction they went in. We also focused on plants by adopting our own trees on the Path. We drew sketches and wrote down different observations about our trees. At the end of the Path, we sat down in the pavilion and played an educational game we made up called Prey versus Predator, where we had to guess who the predator was before all the prey got eaten. 

During our next week of outdoor fun, we made special treats in nature. We are continuing our fire safety and fire building lessons with the children, and used our fire skills to prepare our treats. We have made foods like popcorn and marshmallows, and warmed up apple cider. 

We learned how to make sugar on snow using maple syrup and all the powdery snow in our backyard! We finished up our month by taking advantage of the land that surrounds our campus, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. We plan to paint kindness rocks and leave them on the path for others to find and appreciate.
Moie's Musings
Thoughts from the Executive Director
If you are a parent, guardian, caretaker, educator, coach or any other person who works in any capacity with children, you know that “flexibility” is a keyword in your vocabulary. Even if you are not particularly fond of that lovely word, it does tend to describe how you learn to move, adapt and find content in life’s changes. 

Children teach us many things and “flexibility” is at the top of the list for those of us in the childcare world. You may not be a doctor, but when you need to diagnose a “boo-boo” you can bet your medical background is of little significance to the tear-streaked toddler standing before you. You may not be a lawyer, but when you see your three-year old cross their arms in front of you with a furrowed brow, your negotiations start to flow. You may not be a builder, but when you purchase the playhouse for a steal and it arrives in one million pieces you grab your neighbor’s hammer and become one. Children force us to become flexible thinkers. 

When Covid hit and we all marched into a new world, “flexibility” became a word in everyone’s daily lives. The world was shifted and changed, and we had to shift and change with it. New regulations and safety measures were called for, and even though you may not know it, for those of us who live or work with children, our flexible thinking skills were at their finest. We may have felt stressed, we may have felt overwhelmed, but we were more prepared than we knew, and we adapted. 

Childcare providers jumped into high gear around the world, changing protocols seemingly overnight and waking the next morning to introduce children to a new normal. They established a calm amid the storm, with comforting voices and smiles behind the masks. School teachers changed their entire curriculum and became online learning experts, managing to engage even the youngest children in learning through even the most disconnected, low-wifi technology. Parents and caregivers became the greatest circus performers that ever walked this earth, juggling schedules, safety measures, education, childcare, finances, work and mental and physical health. Leaders across organizations banded together to present knowledge, data, protocols and regulations to do what they could do to meet needs when things just couldn’t be the way they used to be any longer. 

During times of crisis, we seldom realize that we are adaptive, creative, strong and skilled thinkers. But when all is said and done, we will look back on this time in history and recognize the disruptive innovation that existed. This innovation flowed from us as individuals, families, organizations and communities during a very difficult time and many of us can thank the children for expanding our minds to the masterful art of “flexibility.” 
Looking ahead to Infant and Toddler Programs
On behalf of the burgeoning Infant and Toddler program at NOW, I want to introduce myself, our vision for the program, and our opening plans.

I come to NOW with three decades of experience working with children, starting right after high school at a large center accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). I was trained in developmentally appropriate practice from the beginning of my teaching career, and over the years became exposed to John Dewey’s experiential learning, Reggio-Emilia-style emergent curriculum, Project-based learning, and place-based/nature-based education. I began my journey towards Director as an early childhood education major at Goddard College, then finished my BA at Sterling College with a degree in Circumpolar Studies and an Early Childhood Ecological Education minor. I followed up with graduate work in early childhood education, business, trauma-informed practice, post-adoption and clinical mental health. Over the years I have worked in early childhood education as a teacher and a director; as a home-child-care provider; as a social work case manager; and as a student counselor and coach in mental health. Currently, I am in the process of taking two required courses for Director certification. 

Outside of work and school I am a mother of four children--two boys and two girls, now ages 11, 14, 19 and 23. My family and I love to travel and camp, be outside, and are movie junkies. While running my home center, farming organic chicken, duck, turkey and pigs, was an integral part of our child-care experience. Our only holdover from the farming days is sugaring and a large vegetable garden. I’m a published artist and writer, a jewelry maker, and I love to bring a creative energy to my work. 

The Infant & Toddler program at NOW is a big vision. We hope to bridge the huge gap between need and availability for child care in Washington County, and the Mad River Valley in particular. We will begin small, hoping to open just a few slots in March for children ages 0-3. As our licensed capacity grows, we plan to have at least four classrooms to provide the high-quality child care that 80% of families of young children in Washington County lack access to. 

Infants and toddlers are in the process of developing a sense of self, and caregivers at this stage must be responsive to their behaviors and needs. Our philosophy meets those needs by providing an environment structured to meet children’s interests, by valuing who they are as curious individuals, and by supporting their growth through the developmental stages. My curriculum will be rooted in nature and place, while still providing the stepping stones needed for social/emotional and academic growth. A solid foundation of fundamental skills will provide children with pre-kindergarten readiness as they transition to our preschool classroom. We will have a keen focus on the relationships between children and caregivers, which correlate with both mental-health well being and academic success later in life.

-Erica Gongloff, Infant and Toddler Program Director