On Nov. 22 at Michaelangelo's in Little Italy, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., Russo-Otstot will present her vision and help raise money for to develop a preschool curriculum that requires parental involvement and can be open-sourced to classrooms across the region. New Foundation plans to open a support center for parents and teachers in spring 2015 and its first school in fall 2015. We asked Russo-Otstot to teach us what the nonprofit is all about.
Q. Why did you get involved?
A. Like many parents, I started out being concerned about where my son was developmentally. Is he going to be able to read by kindergarten? Soon, it became apparent the things I was truly concerned with were character-based. I wanted my son to be motivated, to develop a deeper understanding of other people’s feelings and to communicate his feelings better. An assistant to a teacher at my son’s Montessori school had this wonderful idea to start this new school and form a curriculum that focused on building up characteristics, such as perseverance, independence, understanding of others.
Q. How is this different from other high-quality preschools?
A. This type of early childhood education is very expensive to implement. We believe we have a more cost-effective, sustainable solution. And we will use all of our profits to basically gift this cost-effective curriculum to schools throughout Cleveland. We will give them the materials and train their teachers on our methodology and provide them with continued education. The more support centers we open, the more classrooms we can gift. We want to make this curriculum accessible to everyone.
Q. What does your curriculum aim to achieve?
A. Children develop 90 percent of their brain by the age of 5. This period is very critical for setting the stage for the rest of their life. We hope to equip them with the tools they need to face any sort of challenges that life throws at them, whether it’s economic or personal. A child who doesn’t have those tools mastered may not be able to thrive in certain situations. And we want to equip the parents with the tools to help their children throughout their life.
If you're interested in attending, call 216-30-CHILD for more info.