Hilltop's Annual Report
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Hilltop Children's Center
Annual Report

Table of Contents

Letter from the Board Chair: new vision and mission

Emergent Curriculum: in-depth projects, kindergarten statistics
Learning in Relationship: faculty retention, reunion
Leadership in Community: professional development institute, Step Up
Organizational Integrity: budget, Fish Wish report

Letter from the Board Chair

What an exciting and busy year we've had at Hilltop! We are maturing as an organization in the best ways possible. After months of intensive work, the board of directors and the strategic planning committee (made up of current and alumni parents, faculty, and board members) approved a revamped vision and mission for the organization. Both statements reflect who we are as an organization, the work that currently engages us, and the rich history of Hilltop. I am proud to share them both with you!

Our Vision: Hilltop honors and trusts children, engages families, and inspires educators to create a more just and joyful world.

Our Mission: Hilltop is transforming early childhood education through play, collaboration, and reflection: in our classrooms with children, partnerships with families, and professional development with educators.

Not only do we have a fresh vision and mission, but we also have a strategic plan to guide our work for the next few years. This year, the board came together under the guidance of a facilitator to develop sustainable systems and structures to steward the organization into the future.

In addition, we launched a new website that beautifully expresses who we are as an organization, thanks to the dedication, hard work, and vision of a couple of our parents. 

We also saw a strong formal launch year from our professional development institute, which is strengthening our work in the classrooms, while simultaneously impacting the field of early childhood education.

And, we had another strong Fish Wish fundraiser, 45% of which went directly to financial aid and the other 55% was directed to classroom learning and educator professional development.

Speaking of scholarships, we received a generous $10,000 donation from Siri Mayo's grandmother, Rose Mayo, to start an endowment fund for the Siri Mayo Scholarship Fund to ensure that Hilltop is accessible to all families for years to come!

Most importantly, every day we saw children learning in community with each other, driven by their curiosity and wonder, and illustrated by their imaginations.

Thank you for being a vital part of our Hilltop community!

Best regards,

Greg Bjarko

Emergent Curriculum

We evoke new perspective by noticing, inquiring about, and reflecting on moments of curiosity or passion and make that discovery visible through documentation and expressive media. We believe learning is constructed through experiences, inquiry, and reflection. 

In-Depth Investigations and Work Groups
Observation as a Tool for Learning

Mentors & Leaders

Funk Dancing
The Process of Art 

Science Club


Recycled Objects
Transportation & Movement
Big Kids
Salvador Dalí
El sol 
Una tienda 

Learning in Relationship

We seek and cultivate a wide breadth of thoughts and ideas as the foundation for meaningful connections with and intentional commitments to each other, which promotes social responsibility, interest in the unfamiliar, and respect for nature. We believe in reciprocal influence. 

Hilltop is so proud of our educators: their dedication, hard work, and deep insight into children creates an inspiring, stimulating, and challenging learning environment. In turn, Hilltop invests many resources into the professional development and overall support of faculty. As a result, the number of faculty we retain year over year is consistently higher than the average rates for the field of early childhood education. We see the benefits of that retention in the children and families' intentional experiences in the classroom, in the stability of the relationships children develop with their educators, and in the subsequent growth and development we see in children.
In 2015 we completed the second year of a pilot model for internal leadership and professional development for Hilltop educators, including two part-time Mentor Teachers, a part-time Professional Development Coordinator, and a part-time Step-Up Coordinator. These roles create leadership and growth opportunities for Hilltop educators, while enabling us to continue our equitable teaching team structure. While many schools staff classrooms with “lead” and “assistant” teachers, Hilltop assembles teams of three master educators, with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. These teams collaborate in planning for and communicating about classroom curriculum, and are supported by the Mentor Teachers and the array of professional development training and opportunities that Hilltop provides.
In 2015 we celebrated our second annual Hilltop Reunion! We had alumni from 10 to 20 years ago getting to know current families and faculty. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends and re-connect with dear friends.

Leadership in Community

We foster courageous leadership and serve as a model of innovative, reflective early childhood education practices. We believe that collective contributions lead to bold action. 

Hilltop's professional development institute was formally launched last year and has already increased the level of professional development we are able to offer our own educators, while positively impacting the field of early childhood education. This past year, we welcomed early childhood thought leaders such as Tom Drummond and Cathy Weisman Topal, hosted ECE professionals from as close as down the street to as far away as Beijing, China. We collaborated with over 350 fellow early childhood professionals to strengthen child-centered, play-based reflective teaching practices in 79 different organizations.
Step Up Program

Developed in 2013, Hilltop's Step Up Program empowers educators to take on community improvement projects, develop and utilize new professional skill sets, and flex their leadership abilities. Educators might develop a project themselves, apply for a project dreamed up by someone else, or take on a leadership role within the Hilltop community. This past year, over 50% of educators participated in the Step Up Program.

Organizational Integrity

We commit to transparent and responsible organizational practices that uphold our mission, sustain Hilltop, and bring playful joy to our work. We believe that root tending creates stability and intentional growth. 

For the third year in a row, our community building, direct ask Fish Wish fundraiser was a great success! We raised $91,000, had 92% participation from families, and 64 gifts from friends and family. Because of the generosity of the Hilltop community, we are able to continue to offer scholarships, support educators' professional development, and strengthen children's experience in the classroom. 
This year, 45% of the money raised by Fish Wish was used to support our Siri Mayo Scholarship Fund. Because of the financial aid made available to them, 9% of Hilltop children were able to attend our school.
Thanks to Fish Wish, we were able to continue our commitment to the ongoing professional development of educators. We learned about sensory processing in children, honed our communication skills with families, and attended, as a faculty, a powerful undoing racism training. Some of us brought knowledge back to Hilltop through conferences that deepened our thinking about children's relationship with nature, taught us how to balance our voice with children's voices, and showed us more ways to use the classroom environment to inspire and nurture children's learning. 
The money raised through Fish Wish helped us further develop our Mentor Teacher program, which has a direct, positive impact on the quality and consistency of children's experiences in the classroom. The Mentor Teachers bring a crucial level of expertise and support to the classroom, as they work with educators in shaping the curriculum, growth, and development of every child at Hilltop. 
A huge, heartfelt thank you to all the generous donors who have made these initiatives possible!
In-Kind Donors
Another huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to our in-kind donors! Thank you for your generosity.

Actual Websites
Fremont Brewing Company
KIRO Radio
Rachel & Zach Morgan
Robert Ramsey Cellars
Volunteer Park Cafe
Copyright © 2019 Hilltop Children's Center, All rights reserved.

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