Jose HS

Demonstrating that Bloomingdale’s reach extends far beyond upper Manhattan, Executive Director José F. Velilla highlighted our program at the International HighScope Conference held in April in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Speaking on Conflict Resolution, José shared Bloomingdale’s experience as practitioners of the HighScope curriculum, a child-centered approach to learning that gives teachers vital resources and assessment tools to guide their practice.

Bloomingdale was introduced to the HighScope Curriculum in the late 1980s by our current Program Director of Education, Marilyn Barnwell.

There was an immediate “fit” between HighScope and Bloomingdale’s guiding philosophy, which puts the individual child at the heart of the program.


We invited trainers from HighScope to work with our faculty and help us implement it in our program. Over the years, Bloomingdale has developed a highly skilled faculty of HighScope practitioners who work together to set appropriate and challenging curricular goals for their classrooms and for each child in the class. Bloomingdale has become a model of HighScope practice in the Northeast, welcoming educators and planners from this country and abroad who come to observe in our classrooms and meet with our educational staff.

Our Executive Director has been a HighScope spokesman and trainer since 1988, whenHS Betsy Jose a HighScope consultant, Betsy Evans, came to Bloomingdale to make a training video
dealing with conflict resolution. She chose to focus on the classroom where José Velilla was then a gifted young teacher. The video was groundbreaking, not least of all because it took place in a “real” urban classroom and featured a male teacher skillfully helping young children through the six steps of conflict resolution in two languages, Spanish and English.

Group time at our 107th Street site: young children exchanging ideas, listening, and learning.

Shortly after the video and a companion book on Conflict Resolution were released, José Velilla became a HighScope Field Consultant, training hundreds of teachers throughout the country. “As the 30th anniversary of that video approaches I am pleased to know that it has impacted so many teachers and children here and abroad,” he said. Betsy Evans returned to Bloomingdale for the second edition of that video as well as the second edition of the book with current Bloomingdale staff members featured in both.

Education Director Marilyn Barnwell underscored the value of the HighScope framework, in which teachers facilitate play-based learning experiences for each of their children:

“I believe this framework enriches the professional practice of our classroom teachers as they explore and facilitate the children’s interests and developmental needs. HighScope also fosters teaching-team collaboration as teachers plan together daily for the active learning that takes place in their classrooms. Eleven of our teachers have completed all of the HighScope requirements and are certified HighScope teachers. Their knowledge of HighScope and its value helps them articulate to parents and visitors how our curriculum meets all of the learning domains of the early childhood classroom.”


Today we continue to utilize HighScope at Bloomingdale and are actively engaged in sharing our curriculum and our program with the next generation of teachers.



This month we’re looking at two men – one a young college graduate and the other a distinguished diplomat – whose experience as part of the Bloomingdale “family” gave them a head start on their life’s journey.

The diplomat is Patrick Gaspard:  union leader, member of the Obama administration, and currently our country’s Ambassador to South Africa.  He tells his story in this video produced by the National Head Start office which can be seen here.

Our other alumnus is Louis Rodriguez: college graduate, Peace Corps volunteer, and currently Care Coordinator at a major NYC social service agency. Here’s how Louis tells his story:ce2

Bloomingdale has always been a home to me. I grew up in the heart of Manhattan at a time when crime in Harlem was declining drastically, but still present. It was a situation that forced the best and worst out of anyone. I first set foot in a classroom at the age of three, and I was greeted by amazing teachers, wonderful staff, and children my age — many of whom have become life-long friends.

The staff at Bloomingdale has always been special. They care for, respect, and support each other, and have the same care, respect and support for the students and their families. They find creative ways to expand the young minds that enter the classrooms. They do not just teach, they engage; they do not just instruct, they involve; they do not just coordinate, they collaborate. This is why I always volunteered at Bloomingdale when the opportunity presented itself. I volunteered during high school, and in college I did an internship focusing on health education, creating activities integrating nutrition into the children’s learning of colors and shapes. It was an exciting time for me.

Bloomingdale does not forget about you. The alumni meetings are powerful. I actually applied to SUNY Oswego because Bloomingdale offered an alumni panel on college admission. My friend Jamil spoke about Oswego, describing his experience there. Furthermore, the panel gave us insight on how to prepare for college admission and expectations. I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Wellness. As I walked on the stage to accept my degree, I remembered all the people who helped me along the way. It was a triumphant moment for us all.

After graduation, I served with the Peace Corps in Zambia. There are no words to describe what serving in the Peace Corps has been like. I lived in a village called Kampelembe in the Luano District of Central Province. I experienced every emotion I have ever experienced so rapidly and intensely, abyssal lows, and mountainous highs. It was a pleasure to be a part of my Bemba Tribe, and to immerse myself in the language, the food, the clothing, the holidays. I experienced life in a close-knit rural community where everyone knows everyone and helps each other. I met some of the most warm, loving, and giving people in Zambia.

ceIt’s a cliché to say “I learned a lot about myself” in Zambia, but when you live in a place that is completely unaware of the things you identify with, where there is no accessibility to sources of information such as the internet, or even phone service, it forces you to find different words to describe yourself. Add a language barrier, and you soon begin to see yourself differently. These new lenses of introspection inspired revelations of self that have proven to be powerful.

My work today is as Care Coordinator at the Jewish Board of Family Services here in New York City. We serve a very vulnerable population, and part of my job is making sure that our clients know about and benefit from the treatment and service options available to them. My experience there has affirmed my desire to continue my education and work toward a Master’s degree in Health Policy.

There are many goals that I’d like to accomplish. On the grand scale, my goal in life is to be a person who motivates another person to start thinking – to ponder even for just a moment. I have headed in this direction since I was an adolescent. When I was 10 years old I went to the Dominican Republic, and I remember seeing a young boy running in the rain without anything on his body but a bag on his head. I asked myself ‘Why was the boy like that? How does he feel about it? Are he and I very different?’ To this day, I sit on a train and observe and wonder about the people around me. Pondering offers insight. Empathy offers us community. The way we ask questions is important, and my goal is to get people to start asking questions.

Asking questions doesn’t always come easy to people in a low-income culture, where people tend to be more fluent in nonverbal communication. This hinders us in many ways, but particularly affects the ability to survive in higher education. I say this because academia was built around middle class norms. People in the middle class are more fluent in verbal communication and tend to be proactive in filling gaps in their information. When someone from a low income family enters the halls of higher education, they’re immediately impaired because they are much less likely to plan, to coordinate, and — the biggest deficit of all — ask questions. It is a culture shock we all experience and that we need to overcome. I loved learning my entire life but it took until my sophomore year at SUNY Oswego to finally learn how to be a student. I learned by asking questions. The questions were always there, but I had to learn how to be verbal and speak my mind.

My advice for children growing up in the community is to ask questions. And not just the Who, the What and the When; ask the Why and the How. Bloomingdale has never stopped asking the question: how can we do better for our children and families? That way of thinking has made the Bloomingdale Family Program a critical part of the families who trust this program.ce-3_bloomingdale


Silent Auction Preview and Bidding!

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – A pair of tickets to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center during the December 2016 Season. For 58 years Alvin Ailey has used the beauty and humanity of the African-American heritage, and other cultures, to unite people of all races, ages and backgrounds through theatrical dance performances. Starting Bid: $50

“Master Harold”… and the boys – A pair of tickets to see “Master Harold”… and the boys at the Signature Theater. In a small South African tea shop in 1950, two black men and a white boy joke and dance together, defying the brutalities of apartheid through their joyous love. But festering issues of family, race, and power are not so easy to ignore, and a single phone call can trigger catastrophe. Winner of the Drama Desk and London Evening Standard Awards for Best Play, “Master Harold”… and the boys reveals the profound personal consequences of oppression. Starting Bid: $20

Cost of Living – A pair of tickets to see Cost of Living at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Cost of Living is the story of four very different people, in four very different circumstances, each trying to get by. Eddie, an unemployed truck driver, reunites with his ex-wife Ani after she suffers a devastating accident. John, a brilliant and witty doctoral student, hires over-worked Jess, a caregiver. As their lives intersect, Majok’s play delves into the chasm between abundance and need and explores the space where bodies — abled and disabled — meet each other. Obie Award-winner Jo Bonney directs. Starting Bid: $30

Tell Hector I Miss Him – A pair of tickets to see Tell Hector I Miss Him at the Atlantic Theater Company. You’re in Puerto Rico. Old San Juan. You’re a tourist, you walk down the stairs of this beautiful old fort built by the Spaniards. When you reach the bottom, you realize you’re in the hole, a slum. Welcome to La Perla, the barrio and the underbelly that lies under the tourism and behind the fort walls. You spend some days there, you don’t want to leave. Oh no, you’re addicted to the beauty, the women and the drugs. A raw and compelling play about searching for first love, found family, and hope. Starting Bid: $30

Hamilton – A pair of premium tickets to see Hamilton at the Richard Rogers Theatre. A critically acclaimed American Musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. A must see! Starting Bid: $200

Wicked – A pair of premium seats at a fall/winter season showing of Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre with the bonus of backstage passes and a signed poster! It is the untold musical story of The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. Wicked the Broadway sensation, looks at what happened in the Land of Oz…but from a different angle. Starting Bid: $200

Paramour – A pair of premium tickets to see the Cirque do Soleil new hit, Paramour. Cirque du Soleil has dazzled audiences the world over, and now it’s finally on Broadway with its boldest, most heart-soaring spectacle ever. Starting Bid: $60

Knicks Tickets – 2 tickets to see the Knicks at Madison Square Garden with optimal seating and included Knicks gear to cheer on the team! Starting Bid: $80

Tickets for either the Knicks or Rangers in the Madison Club – Two “Madison Club” tickets to either a NY Knicks game or a NY Rangers game on a mutually convenient date during the 2016-17 season. The Madison Club provides the lucky winners with seats in Club Section 64 and is inclusive of dinner, dessert and soft drinks at The World’s Most Famous Arena.  A $20 credit for merchandise or alcohol is included with the tickets. Starting Bid: $100

Entrance to Feinstein’s 54 Below – Two complimentary admissions to Feinstein’s/54 Below, including, waived main dining room cover charges and food/beverage minimums. Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club, offers an unforgettable New York nightlife experience, combining performances by Broadway’s best with world class dining in an elegant setting. Starting Bid: $20

Golf at Winged Foot – 18 hole round of golf for three at Winged Foot Golf Course with member Dennis McCarthy. You can chose to play either the US Open West Course or the newly renovated East Course.  The day includes lunch, drinks and caddie fees. Starting Bid: $150

Brooklyn Children’s Museum – Family Membership for a year to the acclaimed Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Starting Bid: $30

10 Classes at Soul Cycle – Get fit and have fun doing it with 10 classes to Soul Cycle, the premier spinning studio located all across the city, and country! Starting Bid: $60

A Gala Evening to Benefit Children and Families


THE BLOOMINGDALE FAMILY PROGRAM invites you to our Annual Benefit – an evening of celebration, great music, and delicious bistro fare – on Monday, October 24 from 6:30 to 8:30pm at Henry’s Restaurant, Broadway at 105th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Noted singer/songwriter Baronessa will perform, and wine, beer and great food will be provided by Henry’s acclaimed kitchen.

Proceeds from the event will support the Bloomingdale Family Program’s nationally recognized programs providing early education, preventive services, afterschool enrichment, and parent development to families in need in Upper Manhattan.

Please join us in supporting one of the longest serving and most-honored programs in our community!

BARONESSA – aka Amy Baron Tarr – is a versatile vocalist and songwriter whose original material is rock at its core, with influences from jazz, Motown, and ‘80s and ‘90s pop. With recent performances at The Bitter End and a concert at The Trinity School, Amy has released four solo albums. Her mezzo-soprano voice can be haunting and full of heartache, or comic with a sassy edge, reminiscent of blues and jazz masters like Bessie Smith, Peggy Lee and Barbra Streisand.

HENRY’s is one of the most popular and beautiful gathering spots on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Spacious and welcoming, Henry’s recalls the Arts & Crafts masterpiece, the Gamble House, with stunning mahogany wainscoting and French doors opening onto Broadway’s largest sidewalk café. The chef is preparing a tempting menu of bistro food for our event, together with a great selection of wine, beer, and other beverages.

TICKETS and LEADERSHIP opportunities can be found at our ticketing website:

For SPONSORSHIP opportunities, please reach Margot Heinlein at or 212-663-4067

Give a New Meaning to Spring Cleaning

…and lend a hand to The Bloomingdale Family Program.


Sometimes it’s hard to part with the blocks and toys our children once played with, but if outgrown wooden trains and Bristle Blocks are still taking up space in your closet, do consider donating them to The Bloomingdale Family Program. We welcome sturdy play materials and equipment in good condition to supplement classroom resources or to share with our families.

Places of business often discard materials that we can use in our classrooms. Perhaps you recently changed your letterhead; don’t throw out those reams of paper. They will become the books that our children will write and illustrate. We can use construction paper, foam-board, and all kinds of art supplies to help stretch our children’s imaginations.

Our Wish List suggests many ways to give to Bloomingdale and we welcome any other items to encourage Science, Technology, Art, and Literacy exploration in our classrooms. You get a tax deduction for your donation, and you enrich our program and help our families.


Bloomingdale Educators Honored by National Council of Teachers of English


Bloomingdale’s Education Director, Marilyn Scudder-Barnwell, was named 2015 Early Literacy Educator of the Year by the Early Childhood Education Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English. Also honored was Bloomingdale teacher and site-leader Joyce V. Dye, who received the Mariana Souto-Manning Teacher Scholarship. The awards were presented at the Assembly’s annual meeting in Minneapolis in November.

0215_014_REIn honoring Marilyn as Teacher of the Year, the Early Childhood Education Assembly cited “her holistic, inclusive approach to education [that] frames children, families, and teachers as powerful resources in their classrooms and communities.”


The scholarship award honored Joyce for the “creative educational environment that addresses all the domains of learning for the children in her class … and the relationships Joyce builds with parents [that] enrich her partnerships with the children and contribute to their learning experiences.”

Both honorees are long-time Bloomingdale staff members, Marilyn since 1980 and Joyce since 1991. “Their vision, and their ability to exemplify best practices in our early childhood classrooms, are an inspiration to all of us,” said José F. Velilla, Bloomingdale’s Executive Director, “and all of us at Bloomingdale – our teachers, our families, and our children – are honored at this recognition of our program.”


They’re reaching for a better future…

… and like so many of the children who started out in our classrooms at The Bloomingdale Family Program, they’re already on their way.


For more than 50 years, Bloomingdale has been giving an educational head start to young children in poverty in upper Manhattan. We focus on children with special needs, and we provide the services, the support, and the encouragement that give them and their families a route to success.



Where are some of our children today? 

Louis, just out of college, is serving with the Peace Corps, helping youngsters across Africa get off to a good start in life.

Liz and Emily have completed graduate and post-graduate degrees. Both are giving back to Bloomingdale, Emily as a Special Ed teacher for our students with learning needs, and Liz, now Dean at a major New York City independent school, as a valued member of Bloomingdale’s Board.

Nathalie is a CPA, working with a major New York City accounting firm.

Patrick enjoyed a distinguished career as a labor leader and political adviser to the Obama administration, and is now our country’s Ambassador to South Africa.


And beyond these “stars” are the many hundreds of children who entered our classrooms when they were three and four years old, who were encouraged and stimulated by teachers who believed in them, and who went on to complete their education, find useful work, and create their own successful opportunities in their communities and their own families.

This is why we ask for your support of Bloomingdale. For our Annual Appeal and throughout the year, please remember Bloomingdale and please respond with generosity, knowing that you are making an investment in the future of children, families, and the community.