Staff Spotlight: Erin Chapman

We’ve been enjoying introducing you to the faces at Pine Village and we are so excited to keep this momentum going with some new blog posts coming soon. We’ve been thrilled to have such wonderful staff and employees who have been with us for years and others who are new to our team! Today, we are introducing you to Erin Chapman, our new(ish) JP Revere St Director

Tell us where you started at Pine Village and what you do in your new role now day-to-day:

I first started in Pine Village this September! I feel so fortunate to be in a Director position and do what I love most. My day-to-day role involves a lot of flexibility. While I have some daily responsibilities such as mentoring teachers, communicating with families and ensuring the safety of the students, there is always something new to learn and more to be done. I love that no two days are the same in this role and it helps me to be prepared for whatever new adventures or challenges come my way!

Tell us what makes Pine Village special in your opinion?

The community of teachers and families make Pine Village the special place that it is. Without them, none of this would be possible. I feel so fortunate to work with a dedicated team of teachers who care so deeply for the well-being and academic readiness of their students. I also really enjoy working with our families to make our school even better than it already is. 

What are your career goals and dreams?

I have always dreamed of one day opening my own school. I am passionate about Education and especially bilingual programs. I believe that by teaching our children more than one language, we are providing them with the keys to open many doors and have many more experiences than they would have with only one language. It is a pleasure to see how our students grow and learn Spanish so quickly in such a loving and supportive environment. I would absolutely send my future children to Pine Village for this very reason! 

Who, in your life, has inspired you?

This has always been a difficult question to answer, simply because I have been fortunate enough to have so many wonderful teachers! At the moment, the person who inspires me most is my coach and mentor, Diana Noteboom. Her passion for education and ambition inspire me everyday to be a better director and a better human being. I’m eternally grateful for all she has taught me in such a short amount of time and I know she has inspired many of my colleagues as well. Thank you, Diana! 

Please share something special about yourself.

I have spent the last 4 years traveling around the world. I have visited 23 countries in my lifetime and I’ve learned many lessons, not the least of which is that we are all more alike than we are different. Each of us has something special to offer this world and if we’re willing to look inside of ourselves, we will surely discover what those gifts are. I’ve also learned that the search for these gifts never ends. It’s the journey of a lifetime and I’m grateful to work alongside such incredible colleagues and teachers here at Pine Village for that very reason. 

Our Partnership with Community Therapeutic Day School

From the very beginning of Pine Village Preschool’s existence, we have placed a very large emphasis on social and emotional growth and learning–-two of our four core values are Love and Laughter. As part of that, we put many practices into place on a daily basis to help our children understand and manage their emotions so we can put them on the right path to success as they head out into the world (a.k.a.  Kindergarten). In our goal to set ALL children up for success, we’ve worked to put in place resources to help those children who might be struggling with emotional, social and behavioral issues. To that end, we created a partnership with Community Therapeutic Day School (CTDS). About a year ago, Selene Gisholt a Psychotherapist who also has alumni children of Pine Village, began supporting our school and families. Today, we are excited to introduce Selene to you and share more about our partnership through this Q&A with her:

Tell us a little bit about your yourself!
I was born and raised in Miami, both of my parents came to the US from Cuba as teenagers. Spanish was the primary language at home and, actually, in most places in Miami there’s such a large Hispanic presence. I moved to New England for graduate school and received my M.A. in Art Therapy from Lesley University.

My second year internship during graduate school was at CTDS in Lexington. There I found a clinical philosophy, community, and mission that aligned with my aspirations. That was twenty-two years ago, and other than a one year jaunt through Europe with my husband, I have been there ever since.

The majority of my career thus far has been dedicated to providing individual therapy with children, parent guidance and clinical consultations to schools, both private and public, to better serve students whose needs go beyond what the school can provide.

What is your history with Pine Village?
My relationship with Pine Village also stretches back many years. About fifteen years ago, when we were looking for a preschool for my older son who had never been taken care of outside of our home, we visited a bunch of places that just left us feeling disheartened. The moment I walked into Pine Village and met [co-founder] Emma [LaVecchia], I knew we had found a sweet little school where he would make friends, laugh, play, learn, and be loved. All that came true and so it was a no-brainer to send our second son there a few years later. 

In the years since my sons left PVP, I have remained connected through my mother-in-law, Marina Ituarte, who is the Community Director and oversees the Social Emotional Curriculum.

How do you work with Pine Village now?

A little over a year ago, Pine Village approached CTDS to inquire about setting up a collaboration between the two programs. PVP would receive consultations to better help them identify, address and support children within their schools who were manifesting some difficulties and/or delays in one or more areas of their development. In turn, CTDS would develop and actualize a system, through a multi-stage and comprehensive screening process, for children who are struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties; provide an avenue of treatment that both supports the child and family; and develop a network of support for the staff. The intent after three years is for PVP to become more independent in these efforts. 

In September 2018, I began the consultations. Each week I spend a few hours in a classroom observing one or more children that teachers and/or parents have questions or concerns about. Then I meet with staff to discuss my impressions, make some recommendations, and plan next steps. At times, I return to the school a few months later for a follow up on how the child is doing after implementing the recommendations. Or we may meet with parents to share the information from my observation and make any referrals for further evaluations or services.

How can parents cultivate a strong relationship with their child’s teachers?
Open and consistent communication that contains listening as well as sharing is crucial. From there, a dialogue can follow where parents and school work together to share a child’s growth, areas of need, and strategies for building academic, play, physical, social, and emotional skills. It can be tremendously impactful when a child’s home and school environments are working in unison to promote the natural unfolding of her/his development. 

What should a parent do if they have concerns for their child’s development?
I think most parents, myself included, often have concerns about their child and his/her development at some point. If/when this happens, talk with others who spend time with your child (spouse, teacher, grandparent, etc.) and share your concerns with them. If circumstances cannot account for your concerns (a move, a new sibling, one parent traveling a lot, etc.), then bring it up with your child’s pediatrician. Don’t go on the internet to search for explanations or answers to your concerns! I would also recommend always starting with your pediatrician to find more resources and next steps. Fortunately, we live in a part of the country that has many high quality resources dedicated to child development.

Selene Gisholt, Psychotherapist Selene began as an intern at CTDS in 1996. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University and an M.A. in Art Therapy from Lesley University. Selene is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has worked at CTDS as a Therapeutic Teacher and Program Manager. Selene has also served as an adjunct professor at Lesley University and a visiting speaker at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She is currently providing child therapy, family therapy and consultations to professionals in various private and public schools and co-leads the Inclusion Sibling Groups. Selene is particularly interested in child development, attachment theory, temperament and mindfulness. She is the mother of two boys.

Social Emotional Learning at Pine Village Preschool

Since the creation of Pine Village Preschool 2001 in Brighton, the founders, Emma LaVecchia and Brid Martin were aware of the important role social emotional wellbeing played in the education of children.

Coming from a Family Childcare background they knew that creating a loving holding environment for the children and a strong bond between parents and school were key elements in nurturing the healthy development of children.

Having opened 8 more schools during the last 10 years these principles have been solidified and are the foundation of the social emotional philosophy at Pine Village. Pine Village has created a program that emphasis the importance of emotional intelligence for directors, teachers, children and parents.

This program includes learning about and incorporating all of the Emotional Intelligence competencies and elements of the Conscious Discipline Program and Mindfulness principles in support of early childhood education.

Wellbeing has many aspects that contribute to everyday life in the 21st century. Most importantly it helps people to handle, learn and manage their emotions and stress levels. We all benefit from learning how to use our emotions in constructive rather than destructive ways.

In promoting this vision in the daily life of our schools, we ALL will realize the potential to have self-composure, manage stress and anger and build self-confidence, resilience and improve the quality of our relationships with others. We will engage in more empathic, honest, transparent, assertive and loving kindness interactions with each other.

It has been a wonderful creative journey thus far. In 2014 Marina Ituarte moved into the role of Community Director and in 2017 Peggy Kuhs joined Marina as our Social Emotional Coach to support all 10 schools, 10 directors and 120 teachers.

A key component of the program is fostering self-awareness
and openness to learning new skills that will directly benefit the lives of
directors, teachers and naturally be passed onto children. We have emphasized
the importance of self-care and well-being for educators by offering
professional development and opportunities for practice on these skills. When
we take care of ourselves we are ready to model and spread joy within our own
families and the school family.

What is Conscious

Conscious Discipline is a comprehensive classroom management program and a social
emotional curriculum, it is based on current brain research, child development
information and developmentally appropriate practice. It starts with the adult
and helps them to develop awareness about how internal emotional states dictate
behavior, build connections and create a positive climate between school and
home. It provides adults with the seven skills needed to effectively transform
any problem into an opportunity for learning. These
seven skills are:

1.- Composure: Being the person you want your children to become.

2.- Encouragement: Building the school family

3.- Empathy: handling challenging behaviors

4.- Choices: Building Self-esteem and willpower

5.- Assertiveness: Setting limits respectfully

6.- Positive Intent: Creating teaching moments

7.- Consequences: Helping children to learn from their mistakes

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults
acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to
understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show
empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make
responsible decisions. These skills are:

  1. Self-Awareness: A child’s realistic
    understanding of his/her strengths and limitations and consistent desire for self-improvement.
  2. Self-Management: A child’s success in
    controlling his or her emotions and behaviors, to complete a task or succeed in
    a new or challenging situation.
  3.  Social Awareness: A child’s capacity to
    interact with others in a way that shows respect for their ideas and behaviors,
    recognizes his/her impact on them, and uses cooperation and tolerance in social
  4. Relationship Skills: A child’s consistent
    performance of socially acceptable actions that promote and maintain positive
    connections with others.
  5. Goal-Directed Behavior: A child’s initiation of,
    and persistence in completing, tasks of varying difficulty.
  6. Personal Responsibility: A child’s tendency to
    be careful and reliable in his/her actions and in contributing to group
  7. Decision Making: A child’s approach to problem
    solving that involves learning from others and from his/her own previous
    experiences, using his/her values to guide his/her actions, and accepting
    responsibility for her/his decisions.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally. It is available to people at any moment, it does not require a special place to practice, it is just a time to pause and pay attention to yourself, to be present, and gives you the opportunity to train your mind to be more sensitive and emphatic. Mindfulness is noticing what is happening right here, right now. When you notice what is happening within yourself and around you it offers the possibility to pause and choose how to respond rather than react from an unconscious automatic and habitual way. This practice interrupts the usual pattern of responding from an impulsive place and opens up the possibility of making better informed and more conscious choices.

All of these practices together give our teachers the opportunity to connect with, care for, educate and nurture the children in a healthy learning environment. It opens the door to seeing the children’s challenges and strengths, and enables them to succeed and reach goals, both big and small. Pine Village is a family that includes parents, children and educators all working towards the same goals of raising strong, independent, caring, socially aware human beings who are capable of leading meaningful, happy and productive lives. We could not do this work without all members of the family involved in the process.

* Please see the links in the text above for more information about each of these areas. You can also learn more at the following websites:

Conscious Discipline:

Social Emotional Learning: