Tag Archives: The Learning Community

Visual Brand And 4-Year-Olds Make A Very Visual Map

Last year, when the Riverside Realty Group wanted to create a visually exciting map of Westport for new homebuyers, they turned to The Visual Brand.

The Church Lane design firm produced a creative, colorful representation of town highlights: schools, beaches, the Library, the Levitt Pavilion and much more.

More than 40 hand-made illustrations took a long time to finish. But the result was stunning:

Earlier this year, a Learning Community kindergarten class needed a road map of Westport for a special project. Assistant director Andrea Berkley called Riverside Realty.

They provided basic ones — and several copies of their beautiful graphic maps too. Andrea passed them on to teachers.

One 4-year old classroom was particularly intrigued. The youngsters had many questions, about it and their town.

Exploring the Visual Brand map.

Seizing on the school’s philosophy of helping children investigate topics of interest, teachers Kelly Gipson, Jen Dennison and Jeanne Colonna invited Randy and his team to the classroom.

They answered questions: “How long did it take to make the map?” “How did you decide what to put on it?”

Then Randy had a question of his own: “Do you want to make your own map?”

Of course! And what’s the most important place to children? Their home!

Teachers asked each family for a photo of their house, for each youngster to draw. Then they asked them to think of another place in Westport that’s important to them.

Ideas included Compo Beach (“I like the playground”), the station (“I love trains”), the YMCA (“I like to play basketball”) and Carvel (“We get ice cream there”).

Other places of interest: a grandmother’s house (“My favorite place is Mimi’s) and their school (The Learning Community was not on the original map).

All the drawings went to Randy and his team.

Last week — ta da! — they brought their finished map to the class.

The kids were excited. But the final produced exceeded even their high expectations.

“That’s my house!” one boy says.

Randy’s team captured the colors and whimsical nature of the children’s drawings, while also including elements of a map they had learned about, like topography (rivers, coastlines) and a compass rose.

The Visual Brand donated a large version to the school — and a personal copy to each boy and girl.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker was there too. The children presented her with a copy.

Each then eagerly showed her their own special places.

They may never look at their town the same way again.

Top row (from left): Teachers Jeanne Colonna and Kelly Gipson, Visual Brand artists Courtney Pagano-Rodriguez and Rob King, owner Randy Herbertson (3rd from right), 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker (2nd from right), teacher Jen Dennison. Bottom: The young mapmakers.

(Every day, kids and adults do wonderful things in Westport. “06880” brings those stories to life. Please click here to support our work — and thank you!)  

Unsung Heroes #94

Earlier this month, the Learning Community celebrated the national Week of the Young Child.

On “Friendship Friday,” children at the Hillspoint Road preschool and kindergarten participated in activities with buddy classes. They also helped youngsters at Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport.

Many children there depend on the school as their primary source of food. School breaks — like this one — mark a week of food insecurity.

So throughout the Week of the Young Child, Learning Community families donated healthy snacks and drinks. The children made signs, and helped organize the food into categories.

At the end, every boy and girl helped fill 131 huge bags with granola bars, applesauce, pretzels, crackers, milk and juice.

The bags were delivered to Cesar Batalla before the end of the school day. It was a true group activity.

Thanks to the Learning Community kids, for helping their less fortunate peers.

Congratulations too to the Learning Community staff and parents — led by kindergarten teacher Valerie Greenberg — for instilling the values of care and compassion, and emphasizing the importance of volunteerism, in Westport’s youngest citizens.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)