Annual Report 2015 2016

Sunflower Creative Arts

Annual Report

2015 2016

Sunflower Creative Arts

Jump right in! Scroll down the page to find the Sunflower Easter eggs (extra videos, expanded interviews and other goodies) sprinkled throughout this online version of our Annual Report. Thanks for all you do to help Sunflower empower children to be confident, creative and compassionate through Play, Nature and the Arts.

THANK YOU

Last year was Sunflower’s first in our new Delray home.

Sunflower officially opened for classes in Delray on Aug. 24, 2015, after a whirlwind of months filled with construction and inspections, setbacks and surprises, unbelievable help coming our way from all directions, and encouragement and delight from our longtime friends both far and near.

With our new home came a stronger voice advocating for Learning Through Experience and for Play + Nature + Art for all children, as well as the opportunity to directly impact the lives of so many more families.

Looking back, I’m not sure any of us understood the work and risks we were taking on when we first started this journey­– or could imagine how truly fulfilling and joyful our first year would turn out to be. That very first day last August­– in fact, all of last year– felt like a dream coming true. Even today, parents see the space and cry, or smile with delight. Kids take off running up and down our hills and along our paths. We feel beyond blessed.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for all you’ve done to make this magical space– Sunflower’s home– a reality.

From Jennifer Ligeti, President, Sunflower Creative Arts Board of Directors

Kids take off running…

running 1

running 3

Instagram

Watch a video: Little Seedlings Running...

“We’ve been waiting for you to come to this place…”

This house was meant to be.

When it was time for the McMurrain family, former owners of 227 N Dixie Blvd., to sell their beloved family home, they waited. They could have sold it to others, and likely for more money. But their mother loved children, and when Sunflower came along– they chose us.

It was meant to be.

There’s a story, that when Susan arrived on the very first morning of the very first day of Seedlings in Sunflower’s new home, she was greeted by a hummingbird outside the front door. A little vibrating sliver of play and joy and promise that exactly matched the excitement in her own heart that day.

It was meant to be.

And then you arrived… and the real magic started to happen. Because the truth is, this house, lovely as it is, would not be a home without you. Your generous donations of money and time (given on the scale of thousands of volunteer hours– as parent helpers, event organizers and in countless other ways) make everything Sunflower does possible.

You dressed Sunflower’s playscape in greenery and the children in superhero capes. Last year your support made a difference in the lives of 194 families in Sunflower programs, plus hundreds more through free community events like Gather in the Garden monthly potlucks, Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside!) family nature exploration, BYOPicnic to the Beach, and the annual Ice Castle Festival & Play Day.

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Play  

Nature

Art

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You set the stage and gave Sunflower the resources to empower children to be confident, creative and compassionate through Play, Nature and the Arts.

So, as the song says,

“Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you’ve come.”

It wouldn’t be home without you.

2016-05-26 16.14.13

So, as the song says,

“Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you’ve come.”

It wouldn’t be home without you.

2016-05-26 16.14.13

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Home is…

a safe place.

“At Sunflower, children are completely accepted and loved, and the whole child is embraced. That’s why they love it so much, and that’s why it was so important for me to give them that, as children: a childhood.”

–Erika Villalobos, scholarship recipient, Sunflower mom

Watch video: What does Sunflower mean to your family?

DSC_0787

Home is…

a safe place.

“At Sunflower, children are completely accepted and loved, and the whole child is embraced. That’s why they love it so much, and that’s why it was so important for me to give them that, as children: a childhood.”

–Erika Villalobos, scholarship recipient, Sunflower mom

Watch video

Home is…

a launching pad.

“Sunflower is such an amazing place for children. All college students need to observe the children and see what type of learning, and how much learning, is taking place through play. It is truly a one-of-a-kind environment that all children should have the opportunity to be part of.”

–Kelly A. Burlison, Ed.D, Elementary Education Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Lynn University/Ross College of Education

Read more: Lynn University Students Observe Play-Based Learning at Sunflower

Lynn University Students Observe Play-Based Learning at Sunflower

As told to Sunflower by Kelly A. Burlison, Ed.D, Elementary Education Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Lynn University/Ross College of Education

Describe the typical learning environment where your students do observations.

Lynn University students observe in K-6 classrooms in public schools. They also observe at early childhood preschool, learning centers, and day care classrooms. They observe all content subject areas with a variety of learners. The teacher covers curriculum based on state standards and provides lessons and activities that align to it. [In a typical learning environment] there is not much choice for children, and many children struggle for a variety of reasons. The teachers try to meet children’s needs; however, the creativity and engagement within the learning environment can be low.

DSC_0964

How does Sunflower’s program/philosophy differ from others you’ve observed?

Sunflower’s program allows students to play and the curriculum is child-based. The children use their imagination while inventing and creating projects at the learning stations/environments. The children express themselves and explore in a variety of areas utilizing their problem-solving skills. The facilitators allow the children to freely explore and play with no direct command or instruction that is forced or told.

What was your overall impression of Sunflower’s philosophy and how it plays out in the classroom? I was extremely impressed with the facilities, staff, and environment at Sunflower. Children were playing inside and outside with a variety of manipulatives using nature and art. Hands-on learning is definitely introduced and carried out among the staff and leaders. It is understood that children have a voice, learn with their peers and respect each other. The environment at Sunflower allows students to become empowered and believe they have created or solved “something.” This provides ownership and increased confidence.

Did anything surprise you during the observations?

I was surprised that some of my students were not used to children playing while learning because of the traditional classroom environments they see. They were not used to the free play environment and voluntary food and naptime with no rules and all choice.

2016-04-13 12.50.04

Why is being able to observe a learning environment like Sunflower’s valuable to your students? All children learn differently, and at Lynn we welcome all styles of learning. Therefore, we want our pre-service teachers to see all types of learning and environments, especially for children, who need to focus on that type of structured play all day that supports human development and growth.

What might your students learn here that they wouldn’t learn elsewhere? At Sunflower the parents were a part of the learning experience, which is so critical because it reinforces [the children’s] learning and gains respect for both the child and the parent relationship.

DSC_0182

Did the observation experience change any of your students’ thoughts about learning environments/interactions/approaches for preschoolers? I think many of them saw a whole new type of learning that does address the whole child. They saw support throughout the entire visit, stimulation constantly occurring, problem-solving skills, and honoring the choices of children.

Anything else you’d like to add? Sunflower is such an amazing place for children. All college students need to observe the children and see what type of learning, and how much learning, is taking place through play. It is truly a one-of-a-kind environment that all children should have the opportunity to be part of.

DSC_0663 --Week 2--

DSC_0663 --Week 2--

Home is…

a launching pad.

“Sunflower is such an amazing place for children. All college students need to observe the children and see what type of learning, and how much learning, is taking place through play. It is truly a one-of-a-kind environment that all children should have the opportunity to be part of.”

–Kelly A. Burlison, Ed.D, Elementary Education Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Lynn University/Ross College of Education

Read more

Lynn University Students Observe Play-Based Learning at Sunflower

As told to Sunflower by Kelly A. Burlison, Ed.D, Elementary Education Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Lynn University/Ross College of Education

Describe the typical learning environment where your students do observations.

Lynn University students observe in K-6 classrooms in public schools. They also observe at early childhood preschool, learning centers, and day care classrooms. They observe all content subject areas with a variety of learners. The teacher covers curriculum based on state standards and provides lessons and activities that align to it. [In a typical learning environment] there is not much choice for children, and many children struggle for a variety of reasons. The teachers try to meet children’s needs; however, the creativity and engagement within the learning environment can be low.

DSC_0964

How does Sunflower’s program/philosophy differ from others you’ve observed?

Sunflower’s program allows students to play and the curriculum is child-based. The children use their imagination while inventing and creating projects at the learning stations/environments. The children express themselves and explore in a variety of areas utilizing their problem-solving skills. The facilitators allow the children to freely explore and play with no direct command or instruction that is forced or told.

What was your overall impression of Sunflower’s philosophy and how it plays out in the classroom? I was extremely impressed with the facilities, staff, and environment at Sunflower. Children were playing inside and outside with a variety of manipulatives using nature and art. Hands-on learning is definitely introduced and carried out among the staff and leaders. It is understood that children have a voice, learn with their peers and respect each other. The environment at Sunflower allows students to become empowered and believe they have created or solved “something.” This provides ownership and increased confidence.

Did anything surprise you during the observations?

I was surprised that some of my students were not used to children playing while learning because of the traditional classroom environments they see. They were not used to the free play environment and voluntary food and naptime with no rules and all choice.

2016-04-13 12.50.04

Why is being able to observe a learning environment like Sunflower’s valuable to your students? All children learn differently, and at Lynn we welcome all styles of learning. Therefore, we want our pre-service teachers to see all types of learning and environments, especially for children, who need to focus on that type of structured play all day that supports human development and growth.

What might your students learn here that they wouldn’t learn elsewhere? At Sunflower the parents were a part of the learning experience, which is so critical because it reinforces [the children’s] learning and gains respect for both the child and the parent relationship.

DSC_0182

Did the observation experience change any of your students’ thoughts about learning environments/interactions/approaches for preschoolers? I think many of them saw a whole new type of learning that does address the whole child. They saw support throughout the entire visit, stimulation constantly occurring, problem-solving skills, and honoring the choices of children.

Anything else you’d like to add? Sunflower is such an amazing place for children. All college students need to observe the children and see what type of learning, and how much learning, is taking place through play. It is truly a one-of-a-kind environment that all children should have the opportunity to be part of.

SPOTLIGHT: YOU

In 2015/16

YOU brought Sunflower programs to more children and families. Because of your support, Sunflower directly impacted an unprecedented number of children and families. That means double the opportunities for children ages two to six to experience Sunflower programs, including Seedlings Preschool, Little Seedlings and the brand new Seedlings Summer Camp, as well as expanded offerings, like Play + Nature + Art Summer Camp, for “big kids,” ages six to nine.

YOU helped spread the Sunflower model to local educators. Your support helped Sunflower spread the play = learning message to student observers from Lynn University College of Education, exposing future teachers to an alternative and proven education model. You also made possible Sunflower’s workshop at Learn Green ’15, Florida’s Green School Conference, last November, showing public and private K-12 teachers how to integrate Play + Nature + Art into their classes.

YOU gave Sunflower a new home – and our whole community greater access to Sunflower.

This home enables Sunflower to impact and serve more families now, and provides a stable base that can act as a launching pad for the future.

 Financials, July 2015 – June 2016

The leap forward Sunflower’s new home enabled is reflected in our financial data. Over the past two years, Sunflower’s operating budget nearly doubled as we expanded programs to serve a growing number of families. Seedlings enrollment increased from 25 children to 40 children in 2014/15 to 70 children last year. During that same time, our new transitional program, Little Seedlings, allowed Sunflower to bring Play + Nature + Art to an additional 36 families with two- to three-year-olds, and we began a Summer Camp program that served an additional 90 children in June 2016 alone.

Operating Income

Program: $306,752 

Donations & Fundraising: $89,958 

Total Operating Income: $396,710

Operating Expenses

Program: $ 308,251

Administrative: $ 41,492

Fundraising: $ 29,429

Total Operating Expenses: $ 379,173

Operating Income

Program: $306,752 

Donations & Fundraising: $89,958 

Total Operating Income: $396,710

Operating Expenses

Program: $ 308,251

Administrative: $ 41,492

Fundraising: $ 29,429

Total Operating Expenses: $ 379,173

fundraising popsicles

Reviewed statement and all financial documents are available at www.guidestar.org.

2016-02-05 12.55.11

Home is…

a celebration.

“I love Sunflower because it celebrates the child’s innate ability to learn through creativity and play, because it respects, honors and empowers each young soul that passes through its doors and because it teaches parents and their children how to find solutions to the problems of the world.”

–Shelly Zacks, Founder & Director, Delray Beach Children’s Garden and former Seedlings teacher

Read more: Sunflower and Delray Beach Children’s Garden– Growing a love for nature

Sunflower and Delray Beach Children’s Garden: Growing a love for nature

As told to Sunflower by Shelly Zacks, Founder & Director, Delray Beach Children’s Garden and former Seedlings teacher

What is your history working with Sunflower Creative Arts?

Susan Caruso, Sunflower’s Founder/Director, and I met when her older son was not even two years old and I had a one and four year old. I was so taken by Susan’s sweet and conscious mothering style. When years later she embarked on her second year of Seedlings, she invited me to join her as a teacher. Being a Seedlings teacher under the tutelage of Susan for nine years changed my life and planted me on the path of my life’s passion and mission.

What do Delray Beach Children’s Garden and Sunflower have in common?

2016-02-17 17.04.35

We are both passionate about helping children develop their voice; giving children the opportunity to develop their brains through movement, exploration and manipulation of their environment; believing that young children can be problem-solvers, and trusting children to develop intellectually, emotionally and socially through unstructured play, especially in nature.

What is the partnership between Sunflower Roots & Shoots and Delray Beach Children’s Garden? Three Wednesday afternoons a month during the school year, Jeannie Fernsworth (DBCG horticulturist and programming director) and I look forward to the arrival of the Sunflower Roots and Shoots crowd (ages 5-12). It has been a beautiful thing watching the children slowly, but surely, feel ownership of the space, find their niche and feel at home in the garden. With our goal being nurturing eco-consciousness in children and the goal of Roots & Shoots being to make positive change happen for people, animals and the world we all share, we are a perfect match. Delray Beach Children’s Garden is grateful for every seed planted, every load of mulch spread, every paver moved, every indicator sign painted …the list goes on and on.

Why is time in nature so important for children and families?

There are endless reasons why all of us need time in nature. The trend away from nature has consequences that hurt all life on the planet, from the smallest one-celled animals and plants to human beings and the age-old sequoias.

For two generations now, we have moved indoors. Air conditioning, electronics and screens, the disappearance of green space and the prevalent fear of parents to allow their children time to explore outdoors on their own have contributed to “Nature Deficit Disorder,” a term coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods. Obesity, diabetes and a lack of the understanding of the interconnectedness of life are all symptomatic of little time spent in the great outdoors.

2016-02-17 17.26.49

For me, however, the most important reason why children and families need time in nature is that it is good for the soul. Especially in today’s frenetic, busy pace, nature provides serenity and awe and wonder. These are the sensory things that win children over to the side of nature, and we are hopeful that it will motivate them to become future stewards of the earth.

Why do you love Sunflower?

I love Sunflower because it celebrates the child’s innate ability to learn through creativity and play, because it respects, honors and empowers each young soul that passes through its doors and because it teaches parents and their children how to find solutions to the problems of the world.

Anything you’d like to say about Sunflower’s first year in our new home?

In those blissful days when Susan and I were the Seedlings teachers, we dreamed and spoke of one day Sunflower having a place of its own. It took a long time, a lot of faith and a tremendous amount of hard work, but Sunflower has arrived!!! Looking forward to watching it grow.

P.S. (About Susan)
Susan and Shelley
As a friend and a colleague I have so much love and respect for the years and years of hard work that it took Susan to get Sunflower where it is today. I recently had a conversation in the garden with a Seedlings parent. She said, “I know this might sound strange, but I consider Susan a master!” I cannot think of a better word to describe this wise, loving, talented, passionate woman who works magic with children and their parents.

2016-02-05 12.55.11

Home is…

a celebration.

“I love Sunflower because it celebrates the child’s innate ability to learn through creativity and play, because it respects, honors and empowers each young soul that passes through its doors and because it teaches parents and their children how to find solutions to the problems of the world.”

–Shelly Zacks, Founder & Director, Delray Beach Children’s Garden and former Seedlings teacher

Read more

Sunflower and Delray Beach Children’s Garden: Growing a love for nature

As told to Sunflower by Shelly Zacks, Founder & Director, Delray Beach Children’s Garden and former Seedlings teacher

What is your history working with Sunflower Creative Arts?

Susan Caruso, Sunflower’s Founder/Director, and I met when her older son was not even two years old and I had a one and four year old. I was so taken by Susan’s sweet and conscious mothering style. When years later she embarked on her second year of Seedlings, she invited me to join her as a teacher. Being a Seedlings teacher under the tutelage of Susan for nine years changed my life and planted me on the path of my life’s passion and mission.

What do Delray Beach Children’s Garden and Sunflower have in common?

2016-02-17 17.04.35

We are both passionate about helping children develop their voice; giving children the opportunity to develop their brains through movement, exploration and manipulation of their environment; believing that young children can be problem-solvers, and trusting children to develop intellectually, emotionally and socially through unstructured play, especially in nature.

What is the partnership between Sunflower Roots & Shoots and Delray Beach Children’s Garden? Three Wednesday afternoons a month during the school year, Jeannie Fernsworth (DBCG horticulturist and programming director) and I look forward to the arrival of the Sunflower Roots and Shoots crowd (ages 5-12). It has been a beautiful thing watching the children slowly, but surely, feel ownership of the space, find their niche and feel at home in the garden. With our goal being nurturing eco-consciousness in children and the goal of Roots & Shoots being to make positive change happen for people, animals and the world we all share, we are a perfect match. Delray Beach Children’s Garden is grateful for every seed planted, every load of mulch spread, every paver moved, every indicator sign painted …the list goes on and on.

Why is time in nature so important for children and families?

There are endless reasons why all of us need time in nature. The trend away from nature has consequences that hurt all life on the planet, from the smallest one-celled animals and plants to human beings and the age-old sequoias.

For two generations now, we have moved indoors. Air conditioning, electronics and screens, the disappearance of green space and the prevalent fear of parents to allow their children time to explore outdoors on their own have contributed to “Nature Deficit Disorder,” a term coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods. Obesity, diabetes and a lack of the understanding of the interconnectedness of life are all symptomatic of little time spent in the great outdoors.

2016-02-17 17.26.49

For me, however, the most important reason why children and families need time in nature is that it is good for the soul. Especially in today’s frenetic, busy pace, nature provides serenity and awe and wonder. These are the sensory things that win children over to the side of nature, and we are hopeful that it will motivate them to become future stewards of the earth.

Why do you love Sunflower?

I love Sunflower because it celebrates the child’s innate ability to learn through creativity and play, because it respects, honors and empowers each young soul that passes through its doors and because it teaches parents and their children how to find solutions to the problems of the world.

Anything you’d like to say about Sunflower’s first year in our new home?

In those blissful days when Susan and I were the Seedlings teachers, we dreamed and spoke of one day Sunflower having a place of its own. It took a long time, a lot of faith and a tremendous amount of hard work, but Sunflower has arrived!!! Looking forward to watching it grow.

P.S. (About Susan)
Susan and Shelley
As a friend and a colleague I have so much love and respect for the years and years of hard work that it took Susan to get Sunflower where it is today. I recently had a conversation in the garden with a Seedlings parent. She said, “I know this might sound strange, but I consider Susan a master!” I cannot think of a better word to describe this wise, loving, talented, passionate woman who works magic with children and their parents.

Home is…

a community.

“I love Sunflower for the dedicated teachers, the learning environment that it offers for both parents and children, and for its principal philosophy. When you experience Sunflower and all that it represents and offers, like my family has, you will always be a Sunflower family. Even when your children have grown up, it will always be a part of you”

–Jesse England, Sunflower dad and Chair, Capital Campaign Committee

More from Jesse England

“My wife and I are very grateful for the opportunity that Sunflower has offered our son to grow in so many ways, and for opening the door for all children to learn in an environment that enables each one to develop on their own individual path. It has been important for us to support Sunflower in any capacity possible so that this great legacy always continues.”

  • Jesse England, Sunflower dad and Chair, Capital Campaign Committee

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2016-01-31 16.11.20

2016-01-31 16.11.20

Home is…

a community.

“I love Sunflower for the dedicated teachers, the learning environment that it offers for both parents and children, and for its principal philosophy. When you experience Sunflower and all that it represents and offers, like my family has, you will always be a Sunflower family. Even when your children have grown up, it will always be a part of you”

–Jesse England, Sunflower dad and Chair, Capital Campaign Committee

More from Jesse England

“My wife and I are very grateful for the opportunity that Sunflower has offered our son to grow in so many ways, and for opening the door for all children to learn in an environment that enables each one to develop on their own individual path. It has been important for us to support Sunflower in any capacity possible so that this great legacy always continues.”

  • Jesse England, Sunflower dad and Chair, Capital Campaign Committee

DSC_0116
2016-05-12 16.45.20

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Superheroes for Play: Sunflower Scholarship Fund

Your generous donations to the Sunflower Scholarship Fund ensure our programs remain affordable and available to more members of the community. Last year you helped raise $16,141 for need-based scholarships. Your gifts directly impact the next generation of Sunflower families. Thank you!

Click to Watch video: Everyday Superheroes

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Home is…

a place where you can be yourself. 

“At Sunflower, my daughter was given as much time and space as she needed. No one hurried her, judged her, persuaded her or made her participate. She did this on her own when she was ready, when she chose to, and that made all the difference to her.”

–Jennifer Zoole, Sunflower mom to Audrey, age 4

Read more: From August to May– One family’s story of a year in Seedlings

From August to May: One family’s story of a year in Seedlings

As told to Sunflower by Jennifer Zoole, Sunflower mom to Audrey, age 4

How did you first discover Sunflower?

A friend attended Circle of Song and texted me the info. I tracked down the website and discovered what Sunflower’s philosophy was and that it was a preschool. I was so excited, I read everything on the website twice that night! It was just what I had been searching for but not been able to find.

Why did you choose Sunflower?
2016-07-26 11.22.31
There was no other choice! I had been looking at preschools for months and, discouraged, had finally given up my search. What I saw at preschools were children sitting inside, adults directing play and lists of academic curriculum for three-year-olds.

We live in a small townhouse, and we don’t have a yard. What I wanted for Audrey was interaction with children, outdoor time and free play. Audrey is naturally drawn to books and creating. She was learning so much on her own by observing, considering, asking questions and experimenting, because she wanted to. We didn’t want this self-taught learning, her natural curiosity and initiative, to be disrupted so early in her childhood.

What was your impression of the physical space at Sunflower?

It was comfortable, inviting, exciting. Though it was a new space last year, it wasn’t in the least awkward or cold, as a brand-new place often feels

What surprised you about Sunflower?

When I attended the introduction meeting and Susan explained that the children could choose to be inside or outside, to spend the entire time painting or reading or playing with water, I was really excited. I had never heard of or even considered the possibility of a preschool that gives children so many choices! For Audrey to have three hours to do whatever she wanted, to make her own choices, to have guidance with choices if she needed it… that was amazing.

DSC_0701

Audrey and Jennifer in the beginning

Describe Audrey’s first month at Seedlings.

Audrey’s first month was tough for me. I was so sure that she would love everything that Sunflower offered, but mostly I saw a very anxious child standing as far away from everyone as possible! Audrey would watch and listen, observing everyone and everything. In hindsight, I realized she may not have been playing much, but she was learning a lot.

This actually went well beyond the first month. Audrey continued to observe, at first with me nearby, and later sticking close to a teacher and occasionally becoming interested in an activity and wandering off by herself to check it out.

She learned that if she had problems finding her voice (such as wanting personal space), a teacher or adult could help her. What Audrey needed most of all was time. At Sunflower, she was given as much time and space as she needed. No one hurried her, judged her, persuaded her or made her participate. She did this on her own when she was ready, when she chose to, and that made all the difference to her.

What changes did you see by the end of the year?2015-09-18 14.06.24

Audrey became a child who genuinely enjoys the company of other children! Playing and conversing with kids has become fun, energizing and interesting as opposed to scary, confusing and worrisome.

I had my assigned parent helper afternoons in Seedlings, but I was also there for several months while Audrey still wanted me. I always left Sunflower feeling energized, inspired and better equipped as a parent.

Why do you love Sunflower?

I love that it is always evolving. Everyone was always considering: what is working? what could be better? let’s move this over here. let’s try this. what do you think? I wonder what the Seedlings will do with this?  To me, this shows how tirelessly committed everyone at Sunflower is to giving children the most enriching experience possible.

DSC_0925

Home is…

a place where you can be yourself. 

“At Sunflower, my daughter was given as much time and space as she needed. No one hurried her, judged her, persuaded her or made her participate. She did this on her own when she was ready, when she chose to, and that made all the difference to her.”

–Jennifer Zoole, Sunflower mom to Audrey, age 4

Read more

From August to May: One family’s story of a year in Seedlings

As told to Sunflower by Jennifer Zoole, Sunflower mom to Audrey, age 4

How did you first discover Sunflower?

A friend attended Circle of Song and texted me the info. I tracked down the website and discovered what Sunflower’s philosophy was and that it was a preschool. I was so excited, I read everything on the website twice that night! It was just what I had been searching for but not been able to find.

Why did you choose Sunflower?
2016-07-26 11.22.31
There was no other choice! I had been looking at preschools for months and, discouraged, had finally given up my search. What I saw at preschools were children sitting inside, adults directing play and lists of academic curriculum for three-year-olds.

We live in a small townhouse, and we don’t have a yard. What I wanted for Audrey was interaction with children, outdoor time and free play. Audrey is naturally drawn to books and creating. She was learning so much on her own by observing, considering, asking questions and experimenting, because she wanted to. We didn’t want this self-taught learning, her natural curiosity and initiative, to be disrupted so early in her childhood.

What was your impression of the physical space at Sunflower?

It was comfortable, inviting, exciting. Though it was a new space last year, it wasn’t in the least awkward or cold, as a brand-new place often feels

What surprised you about Sunflower?

When I attended the introduction meeting and Susan explained that the children could choose to be inside or outside, to spend the entire time painting or reading or playing with water, I was really excited. I had never heard of or even considered the possibility of a preschool that gives children so many choices! For Audrey to have three hours to do whatever she wanted, to make her own choices, to have guidance with choices if she needed it… that was amazing.

DSC_0701

Audrey and Jennifer in the beginning

Describe Audrey’s first month at Seedlings.

Audrey’s first month was tough for me. I was so sure that she would love everything that Sunflower offered, but mostly I saw a very anxious child standing as far away from everyone as possible! Audrey would watch and listen, observing everyone and everything. In hindsight, I realized she may not have been playing much, but she was learning a lot.

This actually went well beyond the first month. Audrey continued to observe, at first with me nearby, and later sticking close to a teacher and occasionally becoming interested in an activity and wandering off by herself to check it out.

She learned that if she had problems finding her voice (such as wanting personal space), a teacher or adult could help her. What Audrey needed most of all was time. At Sunflower, she was given as much time and space as she needed. No one hurried her, judged her, persuaded her or made her participate. She did this on her own when she was ready, when she chose to, and that made all the difference to her.

What changes did you see by the end of the year?2015-09-18 14.06.24

Audrey became a child who genuinely enjoys the company of other children! Playing and conversing with kids has become fun, energizing and interesting as opposed to scary, confusing and worrisome.

I had my assigned parent helper afternoons in Seedlings, but I was also there for several months while Audrey still wanted me. I always left Sunflower feeling energized, inspired and better equipped as a parent.

Why do you love Sunflower?

I love that it is always evolving. Everyone was always considering: what is working? what could be better? let’s move this over here. let’s try this. what do you think? I wonder what the Seedlings will do with this?  To me, this shows how tirelessly committed everyone at Sunflower is to giving children the most enriching experience possible.

#RememberPlay

#RememberPlay

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Hop, Skip & a Jump-A-Thon. In March, nearly 300 donors combined to raise $17,275 in support of Sunflower’s Play + Nature + Art programs, and over 60 families – 240 people – took part in the playful walkathon at Rutherford Park in Boca Raton. This outpouring of support for Play + Nature + Art education is truly inspiring!

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Members of Roots & Shoots, Sunflower’s free after-school club, continued their partnership with the Delray Beach Children’s Garden, helping to nurture the garden with a yearlong service project. 

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Thanks to a generous donor, Sunflower’s baby and toddler nature playscape has been named The Shire. So magical!

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Home is…

where the ♡ is.

“The world needs more Sunflower.”

–Brooke Lavelle, Scholarship Fund donor, Sunflower mom

Watch Video: Why Sunflower?

A HOME FOR SUNFLOWER – Capital Campaign 

Last year, the Home for Sunflower Capital Campaign welcomed new committee members, raised funds to match a $60,000 challenge grant and excited donors with the idea of whimsical and personal naming opportunities. Capital gifts allow us to become an even more impactful and valuable community resource. Thank you to all who have supported this important goal so far!

Total Project Expenses: $1,371,971

Capital Campaign Goal: $1,000,000

Money Raised To Date: $345,928 (including donations, pledges and grants)

Capital Campaign Committee

Jesse England, Chair

Jennifer and George Ligeti, Honorary Co-Chairs

Victoria Green

Martin Lipschultz

Saskia Meckman

Tom and Michele Peel

Gretchen Perry and Rick Leger

Patricia Werhahn and Richard Viens

2016-05-12 17.54.34-1

Capital Campaign Donors

* 2015-2016 Donors

Amy and Edgar An *
Keith Backer
Sharon and Scott Baker
Mark and Kim Bauer *
Jill and Walter Baum
Stacy Brown and Steve Goldner
Mike Budd
Ileen P. Carter
Angelo Caruso
Steven Caruso
Susan Caruso *
Danielle Casale
Carlee Cohen and Jeremy Barr
Mary L. Cohn
Nikki and Daniel Dean *
Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency *
Kerri and Steve Deitsch
Jeanette and Dr. Mark Denker
Suzanne Deutch
Dockerty Romer & Co
Susan and David Dubbin *
Stephanie and Aubrey Dunham
Wynna and Gary Dunmyer
Carmen and John Edelson *
Dionne Ekendiz
Meredith and Jesse England *
Karen and Bill Epstein and family *
Ilana Foglia (in memory of her mother, Ginny Moro)
Rebecca Follo and J. Thomas Bentley
Barbara Fuller Powers
Kate and Chris George *
Lisa and Michael Glas
Glidden Spina and Partners
Connie and Barry Gluck
Victoria and Vince Green *
Margaret and William Greenfield *
Kristin Harkness *
Astrea Hupfel
Angela and Dante Ionata *
Sylvia and Michael Jameson *
Rosemary Justice
Patricia and Paul Kilgallon *
Candy and Martin Kopczak
Marcia Lazar *
Le Petit Prince
Luciana and Eran Levy
Beth and Steve Licht *
Jennifer and George Ligeti *
Martin Lipschultz *
Little Seedlings Class of 2014-15
Tayler Mariner and Martin Lee
Thomas and Denise McMurrain *
Lora and Jim McCoy
Kirsten McKeen
Saskia Meckman and Fares Khalidi *
Mendelson Consulting
Natalie Mitchell *
Katie and John Murphy *
Nationwide Interpreter Resource, Inc.
Native Choice Nursery *
Native Green Cay Nursery
Rosario and Ernest Orphanos
Michele and Tom Peel *
Meade Peers McCoy *
Charlotte Pelton & Associates, Inc *
Gretchen Perry and Rick Leger *
Virginia Perz
Evan Phalon
Ami Polonsky
Helena Redman
Emma Risley and Scott Schereschewsky
Dany Schaper
Ilysia Shattuck and Stephen Charbonneau *
Sue and Bob Shattuck *
Shauna of the Star
Ellen and Marshall Stone
Laura and Mark Swauger *
Dorota Szladewska and Ernesto Salas
Elisabeth and Ken Teelucksingh *
Christine Templeton
Sharon Rosenthal and Roy Trachtenberg
Maria and Manuel Vergara *
Patricia Werhahn and Richard Viens *

2015-2016 Donors

(Operating Fund and Scholarship Fund)

2015-11-14 14.51.59

Sunflower Circle…

a monthly giving club

“I support Sunflower with an automatic monthly donation because it’s an easy way for me to help sustain what I believe in. My small monthly donation is valuable to Sunflower because it’s there for them each month. A few extra dollars helps staff buy art supplies or something special for the playscape– and I feel good about being able to make this happen in my own small way.”  

Lora McCoy, Sunflower Board Member and former Seedlings parent

Learn more about Sunflower Circle

2015-2016 Sunflower Circle Members 

Valerie Bell
Jennifer and Lawrence Burke
Susan Caruso
Simone Chin and Mahesh Neelakanta
Shannon and Frank Cid
Genevieve and Shawn Cipes
Paula and Dennis Cohen
Carlee Cohen and Jeremy Barr
Meryl Davids and Gary Landau
Joyce Doppelt
Natalie Ewing
Barbara Feehan
Vanessa Gimpel
Astrea Hupfel
Lynn Jones
Elisa and Alan Leavitt
Martin Lipschultz
Tayler Mariner and Martin Lee
Lora and Jim McCoy
Barbara Miles
Lillian Murray
Lenore Odendaal
Joan and Robert Pleasants
Lia Schultz and Tyrone Halfhill
Anna Sullivan
Tanil and Trey Tidwell
Batya Weisskoff

2015-2016 Donors (Operating Fund and Scholarship Fund)

Leanne Adair
Patricia Adams
Judith and Andrew Adelson
Danielle Ahles
Rob and Carrie Ahles
Natasha and Justin Ahles
Aaron and Stephanie Alderfer
Lisa and Steven Aliperta
Cassie Allen
Jennifer Alvarez
Amazon Smile (Thanks to all who participate!)
Ames International Architecture
Amy and Edgar An
Marion and David Anderson
Skye Anderson
Angela Andreadis
Chris and Vaso Andreadis
Dean and Kathy Andreadis
Demetri and Christine Andreadis
Samara and Peter Andreadis
Lauren Andrews
Anonymous (9)
Vivian M. Araujo
Maria and Kourdsh Askari
Kelly Austen
Jonathan Avidan
June B. Backer
Katheryn and Bryan Baker
Victoria and Ken Barnett
Michelle and Patrick Barrett
Dana Bathurst
Danielle and Thomas Baugh
Brandi Beane
Maureen Becker
Mary Ellen Becker and Bruce Hurley
Tina Bell
Robert Bender
Benny’s On The Beach
Scott Berge
Doris Berge
Paula Betancur
The Billings Family
Jason Boor
Callie and Matthew Bosch
Dan Bradley
Mr. Mervyn Bradley
Mrs. Linda Bradley
Janet Branch
Tracy and Bill Branning
Howard Bregman, Marcus and Millichap
Teri and Jason Brick
Bridges, Marsh and Associates, Inc.
Pamela Brown
Stacy Brown and Steve Goldner
Bruder/Ritter Family
Carol Brzozowski
Christine Buchan
Matt Buchholz
Vanessa Buck
Danielle Bunker and Robert Rotondo
Dilcia Burgos and Joshua Borthwick
Jannick Burkhardt
Marybeth Busby
Diana and Alan Bush
Mary and Bob Cadwell
California Pizza Kitchen
Lisa Camp and Campbell Tellman
Susan Campbell
Brian Carr and Bruce Creager
Carter Boyle Family
Ileen Carter
Kelly Carter-Smock
Eleni and John Chalvadakis
David Chapman
Dorothy Charbonneau
Barbara and Bryan Chester
Toni Chin
Kim A Chin
Selina and Hernando Chong
Velvet and Chris Chong
Gaetano Cipriano
Lori and Nicolas Cleary
Ashley Coey
Marcela Colina
Shayna Collins
Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties – Great Give Match
Kara Cowley
Donald Cramer
Doug Creager
Corinne Creager
Adriana Crisan and Steven Burstein
Chris and Teresa Cummings
Kaysha S. Cushing
Cecilia and Brian Dan
Patricia Danias Simonyan
Diana Davidson
Michelle Daykin
Carol Deaktor
Linda B. Dean and S. Turner Dean
Delivery Dudes
Vivian Demille
Heidi and Eric Dettinger
Michelle Dias
Michelle Diaz and Terri Finnigan
Maureen Diaz
Bob and Marcia DiChristopher
Jenna and Adam Dickensheet
Shannon and David DiPierro
Lynn Dolan
Jenny Doyle
Andrea Doyle
Susan and David Dubbin
Brent Dudley
Kimberly and Jeremy Dudley
Shye Elgart
Meredith and Jesse England
Bill and Karen Epstein
Lenny Evans
Scott Ferguson
Marie Finn
Elaina Fischer
Claudia and Jeff Flamm
Stephen Foelster and Maryellen Grysewicz
Finn and Hunter Force
Frank, Weinberg and Black, P.L.
Melissa Franklin
Joseph R. Gaglianello
Mary L. Gaglianello
Marilyn Gaglianello
Joe Gaglianello and Erin Stockard
Milly and Parrish Gamarra
Suzy Anand Garfinkle
Barkley and Amy Garnsey
Allison and Samson Garvin
Cecilia and Ron Geraci
Deidre Geraci
The Gerald Family
Annette and Jason Gerlitz Appel
William T Gerrard
Darcy Gerrard
Christa and Mark Gerrard
Cole Gerstl
Amy Wright Glenn
Connie and Barry Gluck
Greg Gomes
Bryanne Gordon
Ursula Gottschalk
Sara Grabowski
Ileana Grau
Victoria and Vince Green
Nathan Greenberg
Brett, Jaime, Suzie and Sierra Greenberg
Marlene and Burton Greene
Amy Greene
Julia P Haensel
Barbara J Haensel
Stacey Hallberg
Jason and Kristi Hane
Colleen Haney
Alexis, Lindsay and Brooke Hanlon
Kathy Hanlon
Dennis Hanlon and Sandra Hogan
The Jon Hanlon Family
Amy Hanlon
Tiffany and Jeremy Hanlon
Kristin Harkness
Rosie and Josh Harris
Rebecca and Mark Harvey
Derin Hayes
Jessica Helmer
HavreDe Hill and Joseph Patton
Veronica Hirsch and Bryant Smith
Stephanie Holmes
Sharon and Richard Holt
Duncan Hossack
Heather and Michael Houston
Xiao Ling Huang
Chris and Linda Hugues
Chrissy and Jeff Hunt
David Huntt
Daric Huntt
Glenda Hurtado-Vo and Quang Vo
Kerry Inaganti
Arnold and Shelia James
Chantal Jensen
Heather Jensen
Dana Johnson
Patricia Jones
Linda and Otis Jones
The Kahn Family
Roger Kalina
Joel and Larae Kattermann
Jill Adrian Kay and Stefano Papaleo
Crosby Kayne
Julie Kelly and Barry Goldman
Kenney Girls
Ray Kenney and Nancy Zoole Kenney
Kristine and Harry Keshishian
Robin Klein
Allison and Gregory Koslowski
Kelsie Kotzur
Doug Koval
Diana LaCarubba
Peter and Susan Lampl
John, Bridget and Eric Langford
Stephanie Lanpehar
Tracy Laux
Brooke and Mike Lavelle
Le Petit Prince The French School of Boca Raton
Katherine LeNeave
Beth and Steve Licht
Jennifer and George Ligeti
Lighthouse Point Fitness
Jacque Lima
Livingston Family
Matthew and Jennifer Lombardi
Giuseppe and Rita Lombardo
John Lombardo
Karen Lopera
Jessica Lopera and Michael Foelster
Beatriz Lorenz
Jennifer Low
Pamela and Jeffrey Lucia
Crystal and Michael MacLean
Daniel Madden
Blake Malatesta
Jaime Mannino
Vicki Marino
Leslie Martorano
Danielle and Ashley Mastrogiovanni
John McClaskie
Mary Ann and Richard McDaniel
Jessica and Brian McDeavitt
Hannah McFadden
Beth Mcleod
Patty R McLeod
Ivette and Drew McMullen
C McShane
Saskia Meckman and Fares Khalidi
M. Carmen Meckman
Maria Meckman
Brenda Medore
Nicole Mezoff
Inna Mikhaylova and Dmitry Mogilyansky
Carolyn Miller
The Mirsky family
Raquel and Patryk Molczan
Natalia Monahan
Mike Monahan
Sandra Moncayo
Mia and James Moore
Carmen Morales
Ricardo Moreno
Mother Earth Diaper Service
Michael Mouw
Richard and Ellen Mouw
Kristi and Chris Moyer
Courtney Mullen-Francisco and David Francisco
Herb Murata
Perambur S. Neelakanta
Julie and Jim Nicholas
Billy and Charlene Nikolakopoulos
Joy and Michael Nissley
Minerva Nunez
Nicole Oakerson
Maxine Ofsowitz
Judi and Michael Ohanian
John and Joy Olson
Debra and Hein Onkenhout
Janine and Jared Opper
Organic Movements Dance School
Laura and Bill Owen
Wayne Paglieri
Chuck Papp
Paradise Bank
Colleen and Richard Paul-Hus
Keith, Cherrise, Reef, and River Pawlak
Mr. and Mrs. Andres Pedroso
Meade Peers McCoy
Dylan Peers McCoy
Liliana Pennington
Christine Perretta
Gretchen Perry and Rick Leger
The Petersen Family
Joseph Pettit
Casey and Sean Philbrick
Victoria and Peter Philip
Barbara and Rick Powers
Shelly and Peter Preziosi
Paula Proetto
Debra Pudder
Sara Rafferty
Diana Randazzo
Jim and Linda Ray
RedSteel Properties
Jennifer Reilly
Phillip Rich
B Riddick
Paul Ringon
Nathan Roberson
Katia and Jorge Rodrigues
Rebecca Rojas
Lisa and Craig Romer
Courtney Roog
Arin and Jeffrey Roos
Rosemary Rosas
Cali Rose
Kay Roseo
Jo Ann and John Roseo
Audra and Roberto Rovegno
Amanda and Ryan Roy
Sharon Rudnitsky
Dana Rueter
Sagely Willow Massage and Bodywork
Courtney Salamone and Joseph Snider
Wendy Salpeter – Luxury Mortgage
TL Saraniti
Patricia and Robert Schaaf
Dany Schaper
The Schereschewsky Family
Ann Schneider
Tara and Cass Schreiber
Elan Schrier
Schrier Family Chiropractic
Kathy and Spence Seery
Tricia and Bill Seery
Kelli Seibold and Jeremy Seibold
The Seigfreid Family
Elizabeth Selya
Steve and Karan Seneca
Nicole and Michael Seneca
Michele Service
Mario Shannon
Sue and Bob Shattuck
Ilysia Shattuck and Stephen Charbonneau
Tanya and Jason Shattuck
Sasha and Ian Shtulman
Shtulman Family Chiropractic
Frank and Nicole Shulman
Valerie Silidker and Jay Flanzbaum
Marilyn L. Simeon
Adena Simmons
Adam and Andrea Smith
Cynthia and David Smith
Claranne Smith
Denae Smock
Cynthia Sossei
South Florida Air Conditioning
Jenifer Sparrell
Cindy and Alan Sperling
Jenny and Tom Stancampiano
Jarin Stanford
Thomas and Kirsten Stanley
The Steins
Lexi Stern and Hayden Nasir, Evolution Salt
Ellen and Marshall Stone
Margaret and David Stone
Strategic Funding Source
Studio Sprout
Dorota Szladewska and Ernesto Salas
Cheryl Tancer
Nick Tatge
Tara and Austin Taylor
Elisabeth and Ken Teelucksingh
Claire Teller
The Velvet Lotus
Amanda Thomason
Randi Tobman
Angela Towne and Gus Martinez
Luz E Trevino
Michael Umlauf
Veleanu Family
Marjorie and Dick Viens
Erika and Victor Villalobos
Carol and Michael Vogt
Andy Walker
Rona Walters
Connie and Ted Walters
Natasha Watkinson
Janice Watson
Katrina Weber
Amy and Neal Weisman
Neal Weisman, MD
Daria Wels and Daniel McNalis
Patricia Werhahn and Richard Viens
Beatrice Werhahn
Geraldine Werhahn
Lee and Charlie Williams
Leanore and Charles Williams
Kristie Wilson
David Wilusz
Gertrude and Theodore Winsberg
Tehmina and Erik Wytenus
Bettina Young
The Zacks Family
Sue and Jon Zoole
Jennifer and Peter Zoole

Sunflower_Logo

Board of Directors, 2015/16

Jennifer Ligeti, President

Dr. Edgar An, PhD, Vice President

Tayler Mariner, Treasurer

Susan Dubbin, Secretary

Susan Caruso, Executive Director

Gary R. Dunmyer

William L. Epstein

Lora Peers McCoy

 

Sunflower Executive Staff

Susan Caruso, Founder/Director

Jaime Greenberg, Communications Director

Meade Peers McCoy, Director of Special Projects and Strategic Initiatives

Ilysia Shattuck, Operations and Development Director

Dorota Szladewska, Financial Director

Sunflower Creative Arts, Inc. is a 501c3 organization, which provides its services and benefits to children and families without regard to race, color, nationality, religion, gender or ethnic origin. Childcare License #50-51-1611005