How do you spell “welcome”?
If you’re from Armonk, chances are you eschew the conventional w-e-l-c-o-m-e spelling in favor of B-H-P-A … yes, the Byram Hills Preschool Association (BHPA) is the very definition of what it means to feel welcome!
What started as a small grassroots group way back in 1965, is, today, a fully developed not-for-profit organization serving close to 300 families each year. And, whether you’re a newcomer or native of North Castle, if you have a preschooler, you likely know what it’s like to be enveloped in the warm embrace of the BHPA.
Outgoing BHPA co-president Nancy Rosner came full circle with the organization. She not only grew up in Armonk, but her mom was a BHPA board member too. Rosner moved back to Armonk when her now 5-year-old son was just 18 months old, and immediately joined the BHPA which, she says, “made the move as seamless as possible.” Soon thereafter, she decided to become involved with the BHPA board in order “to be a more active participant in this group that I really felt lucky to be part of.” She started as one of the Children’s Committee co-chairs. Then, last year, feeling ready to take on even more responsibility and give back in a bigger way, she joined forces with fellow BPHA member Tina Mannix to become co-presidents for what she describes as an incredibly fulfilling year.
This year’s new co-presidents, Danielle Meyer and Stephanie Pitofsky met through the BHPA Book Club for parents last year and soon became fast friends. Each has an older child who has aged out of BHPA (children/families age out with the start of kindergarten) and a second child happily involved.
Not only did the women “hit it off right away” in Book Club, but they soon recognized that their individual skill sets are wonderfully complimentary; Meyer has her degree in Special Education and was a teacher in East Harlem before moving to Armonk, while Pitofsky is a CPA and Project Management Professional currently with PwC. Together and already hard at work, they’re a powerhouse team eager to make their mark and build on last year’s many wonderful success stories. There’s “a lot of work up front” says Meyer, “but we expect it to start to flow.” Adds Pitofsky with a laugh, “We’re in constant communication! We’re looking forward to the year–and think it’ll be a lot of fun!”
What’s first and foremost on the agenda for this year? Squaring away the many committee chairs, which are listed at www.bhpa.info. BHPA committees are the backbone of the organization and as diverse as the membership served. From Playgroups to S.O.S. (School Orientation Session) and Working Moms to Mom’s Night Out, the organization is equally child and parent-focused; there is truly something (or multiple somethings) for everyone.
Playgroup is, perhaps, the jewel in the BHPA committee crown. After all, playgroups are where children learn to socialize–and parents, grandparents, sitters etc develop their social networks too. Groupings are based on who brings/stays with the child, the child’s age/year attending kindergarten and which day of the week works best. As fabulous as this program has been, Meyer and Pitofsky are nonetheless working to streamline the process and make it even more user-friendly, including developing a plan that would turn a Monday-Friday program into a full seven-day-a-week option.
Of equal acclaim is S.O.S., a wonderful program that introduces preschoolers to Coman Hill Elementary School in a very gentle way. Says Pitofsky, “The intention is to get the children comfortable with the school they’ll be attending.”
To that end, the program runs January through May, one day per month. Families choose their preferred day, and on that day each month, their children rotate through the library, the art room, the cafeteria and playground, enjoying activities and teacher supervision in each setting. The final visit includes a bus safety video followed immediately by a practice ride on the school bus!
The Children’s Committee hosts many fun-filled, child-centric events. Last year, under Rosner and Mannix’s stewardship, the BHPA partnered with the Armonk Chamber of Commerce to combinethe annual BHPA Fall Carnival with the Chamber’s Cider and Donut Festival. The weather wasn’t perfect, but the partnership “was incredibly successful and fun,” says Rosner. Meyer and Pitofsky are already working with the Chamber on once again combining events this year. As September fades, October gears up for the BHPA’s Halloween Ball and pumpkin painting. This always anticipated treat-not-trick is another annual event not to be missed. Members can look forward to something genuinely fun every month of the academic year!
Another new event–one which will surely become an annual hallmark evening–was last year’s inaugural gala fundraiser, Night at the Museum. The well-attended event took place at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase and, shares Rosner, “It was a beautiful, fun night…we surpassed our goal for ticket sales and fundraising efforts, which was really wonderful!”
With so much to look forward to , who wouldn’t want to join the BHPA?! Dues are just $50 per family for the year, which entitles members to any and all events.
For events listings and more information, visit www.bhpa.info. The BHPA looks forward to welcoming you and your little ones!