Hilltop's Annual



Table of Contents
Letter from the Board Chair

Emergent Curriculum: In-depth Projects, Kindergarten
Learning in Relationship: Faculty Retention
Leadership in Community: Step Up Projects, Hilltop Educator Institute
Organizational Integrity: Budget, Fish Wish


Letter from Jim Armstrong, Board Chair

Hilltop’s board and leadership are guided by our organizational values and the strategic plan our community developed back in 2014-2015.
Over the past four years, Hilltop has chosen one of our four organizational value to focus on: Leadership in Community, Learning in Relationship, Emergent Curriculum and, in the 2016-2017 year, we looked at our final value: Organizational Integrity.
While Hilltop has made progress in almost every goal of the strategic plan this year, the lens of Organizational Integrity reflected our focus on sustainable systems-development both on the administrative team and on the program team. In addition, educators continued to use and master tools to increase effectiveness in their work with children and communication with families. Additional values that we use to evaluate the effectiveness of these tools and systems are equity, relationships, and sustainability.
Some organizational highlights include:
  • High level of family engagement and participation in the school as measured by board and committee work: 40 current parents, 6 alumni, 15 community members
  • Raised $100,000 with 93% family participation
  • Increased number of alumni and grandparent gifts
  • Improved internal professional development through the leadership of mentor teachers and a new schedule and structure
  • Built a strong advisory council of faculty, parents, and community members
  • $25,000 in grant funding
  • Doubled earned revenue from $21,000 to $41,000
  • 100% of faculty participated in the Institute
  • Worked with over 500 educators and administrators through observation visits, study days, and educator discussion series
The 2016-2017 year was one of root-tending, of creating stability and intentional growth, and of continuing to build organizational practices that uphold our vision, mission, and help move our strategic plan forward. We have found that the more the behind-the-scenes building-blocks are in place, the more focus we can place on the playful joy of children in the classrooms.

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.

Classroom In-Depth Projects

We believe in following kids' lead in regards to curriculum. By focusing on the interests, challenges, and curiosities of children we are able to craft ways to best engage and support in further learning. Our in-depth projects last anywhere between 2 and 6 months, and range from art projects to beginning conversations on matters of social issues. These projects are each unique and take place both in and out of the classroom walls of Hilltop. 
Music, Big Body Play, Storytelling

Building Together

Plays, Black Lives Matter, Dry Ice, Roving Readers, Movie Club

Portraits, Movement, Sound
Representative Art and Scary Themes

Languages We Hear and Speak, Experiments, Murals

Experiments, Mazes, Patterns

Paper, Performance, Predators
Where did Hilltop children go to kindergarten this year?
Learning in Relationship
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. 
Faculty Retention 

Learning in Relationship stands as one of our unconditional values. Thinking about what this looks like in practice, we understand the necessity for faculty retention. The relationships faculty build with children and their families are so valuable, and they are best done over long periods of time. When these relationships have the time and space to grow, there are incredible pay offs in the growth of children in the classroom. In general, the field of early childhood education has a teacher retention rate of 70%, where Hilltop has seen an average 87% retention rate in our teachers over the past few years. In regards to administrators, the broader field has a retention rate of 60% while Hilltop has a recent average rate of 89% retention.

Through our professional levels of compensation, leadership opportunities, and availability of growth within Hilltop we are attract and retain outstanding educators. Our hope is to have our faculty interact with programs such as Step Up as well as the Hilltop Educator Institute. As well as encouraging faculty to engage with these programs, we also offer professional development year-round in both individual and all-school settings. We believe that investing in, and having the investment of our faculty is what fosters growth in our organization and benefits the Hilltop community.
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. 
Faculty Step Up Leadership Program

We understand that the talents of our faculty go beyond what they may bring to the classroom. Our Step Up Leadership Program serves as an outlet for such. This program provides the opportunity for faculty members to organize events, participate on committees, as well as craft new projects that contribute to making Hilltop an even better place. 
Hilltop Educator Institute
Hilltop launched a professional development Institute in 2013. The Hilltop Educator Institute coordinates Study Days at Hilltop, hosts an ongoing Educator Discussion Series, and provides coaching for other schools, facilitated by Hilltop’s own educators.
Institute Accomplishments
  • The 2016-17 Hilltop Educator Institute was a tremendous success on so many levels, breaking records in participation, outreach and impacting the lives of so many people. The 2016-17 Educator Discussion Series finished on a strong note, with an astonishing 149 attendees over the course of the last three events. In 2017, we added an additional full day event, bringing the total of full day training's to three. The last one which featured Wendy Lee who flew in from New Zealand, sold out within weeks.
  • While it is difficult to quantify, the 2017 Institute had an immeasurable impact on the lives of so many Seattle and Pacific Northwest area residents. Through feedback cards and unsolicited emails, we heard from so many participants about how the Institute changed their lives both intellectually, emotionally and practically. Our NPS (net promoter scores) and feedback cards showed that nearly 85% would recommend the Educator Institute to a friend. 
  • Across all programs offered by the Institute, we saw a 148% profit growth from the 2016 fiscal year to 2017.
  • 52 organizations participated in an EDS event in 2016-17. This translate into 360 attendees over the course of the year.  Through our EDS series, over 4,000 students were indirectly touched by the Institute.
How does the work of the Institute benefit children and families at Hilltop?

- Introducing play-based principles, exploring how a play-based curriculum works (with lots of examples), and considering how it can be a model for both education and democracy in action. 
- We explored the assumptions, dispositions, and experiences that influence our understandings and offerings of meaningful opportunities for children’s play and how the power of play impacts a child’s development and how children use play to build skills and understanding of the world around them.
- We invited speakers into for a workshop around communities of practice, which we have since adopted.  This allows colleagues to understand and practice these key elements of reflective early childhood teaching.  Our educators gain self-awareness and a stronger image of children as they share their own stories and experiences, and constantly leave each day with a renewed excitement and delight for the wonderfully complex work of teaching and learning with young children.
- We looked at how we set up environments that promotes active play, which is an integral part of sensory motor development, actually builds neural pathways necessary for children to focus their eyes and attention, regulate their emotions, and develop the ability to plan and carry out a task. 

Community Support

Hilltop continues to enjoy community support for the Institute. In addition to a grant from The Hummingbird Fund, we also received sponsorships and scholarships from Educa, Top Ten Toys, and the City of Seattle's Department of Education and Early Learning. This support has allowed us to partner with other non-profit organizations in the community, such as Solid Ground, Housing Hope, Sound Child Care Solutions, and Tiny Trees. We are so grateful for the generosity of our community partners!
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. 

Our Fish Wish fundraiser is the only fundraiser we have here at Hilltop. It is our simple ask for the additional financial support we need to make-up for the difference between what our revenue is from tuition and the expenses of running the organization. With the money raised from this fundraiser we are able to provide scholarships to students, educators with opportunities for professional development, and strengthen programs that benefit the learning environment of Hilltop. We raised $100,000 from our 2017 Fish Wish, with 92% participation from families and 60 gifts contributed from friends and family. 


$35,000 raised through Fish Wish was used to build a new library, bring healthier snacks to your children, purchase markers, clay, blocks, and other materials for the classroom, and help support the Mentor Teacher Program, in which mentor teachers facilitate the development of curriculum responsive to the children in each classroom, guide the growth of parent partnerships, and increase the quality of children's experience at Hilltop.

$15,000 raised is helping prepare your children to succeed in a complex, diverse world, through educator training in anti-bias curriculum, undoing institutional racism, equity and leadership, and compassionate communication skills.

$50,000 raised through Fish Wish supports scholarships for children who otherwise could not afford to attend Hilltop. Six percent of children received financial aid in 2016-2017.

In-Kind Donations

We are so grateful for all our in-kind donors who help to make this fundraiser successful!

Without the generosity of our community, we would not be able to do what we do. As a non-profit organization it is these donations that allow us to provide each child with an exceptional experience, to give our educators opportunities for further professional development and growth, and to ensure scholarship money is available to families that otherwise would not be able to be a part of Hilltop. 
Thank you for another wonderful year! 

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Hilltop Children's Center · 4 Nickerson St, Seattle, WA · Suite 100 · Seattle, WA 98109 · USA

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