Category Archives: Professional Service

A Perfect Partnership: Your Afterschool Program + An Experienced Enrichment Provider

[Note: This is a Sponsored Guest Post contributed by Flex Academies, an afterschool program management provider.]

A good school-service provider partnership is like a marriage, of sorts. Though there are good and not-so-good times, the partners make it work to everyone’s benefit—and sometimes, after years of working together, you can almost anticipate what your partner school will need.

“We pride ourselves on catering to the needs of each school we work with,” said Josh Chernikoff, Flex Academies founder and president.

For five years, Great Falls Elementary School in Virginia has partnered with Flex Academies for its afterschool program management.

“Schools have their unique quirks in terms of how they want things to operate,” said Jennifer Eng, Great Falls Elementary School PTA President. “There’s always a learning curve in terms of working with any new organization, between vendors, our kids, the school. You have to make everyone happy.”

Schools accommodate hundreds—even thousands—of students whose academic, social and physical needs differ. Perhaps more than some other institutions, schools are strongly focused on safety and efficiency and want things done in specific ways.

Knowing what schools and PTAs want, how their processes work, and what concerns parents have is key to a successful, long-term relationship between a school and an afterschool program manager. It’s also instrumental in the 96 percent retention rate Flex Academies has among the schools it serves.

Other reasons for that high number include the variety of activities Flex Academies offers, such as sessions in Lego architecture, art or hip-hop dancing. Many schools stay with Flex Academies because of its emphasis on safety and security; many appreciate that the company handles everything from registration to billing, to making sure students are in the right place for their afterschool activities, to the carpool line afterward.

Chernikoff knows there are other options for parents—that there are other companies, making it tempting to try something new. “But what do you gain by that?” he asks, noting that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

“Flex Academies is the premium manager of afterschool enrichment. It may cost a bit more, but our service and quality exceed expectations.”

Eng agrees and sees value in her PTA’s five-year partnership with Flex Academies. “We work together with Flex. You have your agreement, your contract, but there are little things you that go beyond a contract—things you can’t reflect on paper. Having worked with each other, we know how to collaborate and get things done.”

Enrichment Coordinator Kathleen Tayman appreciates the way Flex Academies tailors its programs to students. When the afterschool enrichment program her PTA was running at Seven Locks Elementary School in Maryland became too much for a limited number of volunteers to handle, she called Flex. One challenge in particular was easily met.

“There were a few afterschool program teachers in dance and art that the kids really loved, and we wanted to keep them,” Tayman said. “Flex did a good job of working them into their program, allowing those vendors to stay with us and work with them. And they exposed those instructors to other schools, which helped them, too.”

Principal Chris Nardi, in charge at a middle school in Bethesda, Maryland, remembers when his school contacted Flex Academies to help manage its afterschool enrichment program. “We are a school of 1,500 students, so it was an interesting endeavor for them to take on such a big school.”

Fast forward five years and Thomas Pyle Middle School still enjoys a solid relationship with Flex Academies—a longstanding partnership born of mutual understanding.

“Pyle’s program is the largest middle school enrichment program in the state,” said Chernikoff. “That in itself presented challenges, but our five-year partnership is testimony to the fact that we are doing all the right things when it comes to managing their program. We can manage the largest, the smallest, and all programs in-between.”

While any long-term partnership has its share of challenges. Flex Academies has nurtured partnerships built on mutual trust, respect, and understanding, which in turn translates to accommodating schools’ needs and challenges that are easily met when they arise.

“Schools and PTAs stay with us,” Chernikoff said, “because they know we’ve been there for them and will continue to be, through staffing changes, changing student needs, and whatever else comes along.”

To learn more about Flex Academies and their services, visit the website.

This post is sponsored by Flex Academies, however, I only promote programs, places, and services that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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DC Way is Offering February Break Soccer Camp!

This post is sponsored by DC Way, however, I only promote programs, services, and events that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2019, Camp, DC, Indoor Play, Professional Service, Sponsored Post, Sports, Weekdays, Winter

Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry Opens Its Doors in West End, DC!

Dr. Avionne Hill and her staff welcome you to Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry, located in the West End neighborhood of Washington, DC! They are a preventative-focused practice, guiding parents and children on the journey of great oral health.

At Rose Park, they make it a priority to educate families about how diet, brushing, flossing, and genetics play important roles in the presence of cavities. They also help them understand how the growth and development of each child can be affected by oral structures and dental care.

Since 2013, Dr. Hill has been voted by her peers as a Washingtonian Top Dentist. With over a decade of experience as a pediatric dental specialist of the oral cavity, she is an expert in diagnosing and treating lip and tongue ties. She performs procedures such as laser frenectomy to help an infant’s ability to breastfeed, reduce a mother’s breast pain, and prevent later issues such as palatal development, tooth spacing, and dental caries. Dr. Hill is a great source of knowledge not just for her clients, but also to other pediatric providers on treatment of those issues at the right time to prevent future problems.

The farmhouse-themed office sets the tone of the pediatric dental visit for little ones — and the entire family. An actual little house is built into the design, and wooden benches with comfy pillows, and cute niches for children create a cozy, relaxed, “at home” feel for patients and parents.

Interested in learning more about Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry? Visit their website or contact them at 202.873.9696 to schedule an appointment.

This post is sponsored by Rose Hill Pediatric Dentistry, however, I only promote places, services, programs that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.

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The 2018 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide

A holiday fave: Her first Christmas, his fourth (and obviously an unwrapping pro even then)

This annual gift guide is in its fourth year, and while many of the specifics have changed, the overall concepts have not (nor has the above photo that I adore). That’s because I want my recommendations to reflect the spirit of my blog, and these ideas achieve that. (Plus, I think they’re really good suggestions! 😉 ) So just like the last few years, I’m sharing some things I’ve really enjoyed around DC and/or think would make fantastic presents for a variety of people. This also gives me a chance to highlight local businesses offering unique experiences and products as well as organizations that are doing great things. And then there are ideas that are simply fun and enriching and showcase the incredible city that is Washington, DC. None of these recommendations are sponsored; they’re just adventures, places, and products that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!

Olney Theatre’s Elf the Musical

Hot Tickets
There’s so much great live entertainment both currently running and coming to local stages soon, that would make fantastic presents for kids and adults. KFDC Tip: Before you buy, check for ticket deals, as you may be able to get discounts to some productions. Here are some recommendations for shows running during the holiday season and coming up soon in the new year:
* Elf the Musical at Olney Theatre
* Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas at Adventure Theatre
* The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical at the Kennedy Center.
* Demetri Martin at Warner Theatre for grown-ups who love great comedy
* School of Rock at National Theatre
* Finding Neverland at National Theatre
* Big Apple Circus at National Harbor
* Monster Jam at Capital One Arena
* The American Pops’ An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
* Miss Saigon at the Kennedy Center
* The Anthem has tons of great concerts (for adults) coming up

Games galore at Labyrinth

Game On
DC’s best shop for board games and puzzles, hands down, continues to offer so many fantastic options for holiday gifts, so plan on a visit to Labyrinth Game Shop on Capitol Hill. This is one of my go-tos for birthday party presents and always a stop for some shopping this time of year. Since I first wrote about the store when it opened eight years ago, it’s gotten even better, so much that they expanded to a second space next door. They have something for everyone — all ages, every interest. And the service is just as great as the inventory. Give them a few details about who you’re shopping for, and they’ll show you just the right game to buy. I already did some of this year’s holiday shopping there, and they are as consistent as ever.

A robust selection of kids’ reads

Book It
Find presents for everyone at a local bookstore! Combine your shopping trip to Labyrinth with a stop next door at East City Book Shop. Solid State Books on H Street has a great selection of books, plus an adorable children’s section. Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle is a DC institution and always a great place to browse and have a bite at Afterwards Cafe. Politics & Prose, one of the city’s most well known bookstores, reently opened another location near Union Market along with ones at The Wharf and its original Connecticut Avenue shop. You can go secondhand at Walls of Books in Petworth, where the inventory is 99% used books. And Baby Ventures Books, started by two local moms, inspires young children to explore their world early on with wonder and compassion. (And FYI: Just about all of the book stores mentioned have programming for children, so be sure to check for that when you visit their websites or shops!)

A glimpse into Michelle’s world

Memoirs of a First Lady
Last year, Barack Obama was on this list (or at least Pete Souza’s book of images of our 44th President from his tenure as official White House photographer was). This year, it’s Michelle. Her new book Becoming was released last month and has quickly become a bestseller. I’ve only just started reading my copy, but based on what I’ve gotten through so far and after seeing the former First Lady on her book tour, I can’t wait to delve in more. I have a feeling that many, many people would love it as a gift.

A Tinker Crate creation

Deliver Creativity
Kiwi Crate, the monthly activity box subscription, was in our lives for many years, so I know firsthand that it makes for great presents for kids. Hence, I’m endorsing the products once again! They’ve become so popular, that many more kits are now available — the original Kiwi for ages 5-8 comes with all the supplies needed to make an adorable craft. The Tadpole will delight ages 0-2, Koala is for ages 3-5, Atlas for 6-11, Doodle for 9-16+, the Tinker is also for ages 9-16+, and Eureka is for 14-104. They’re great to have on hand for rainy days or anytime kids want a ready-to-go (ie, minimal work for you) project at home.

There’s a huge selection of gifts for all ages at the National Gallery

Enter Through the Museum Gift Shop
We have some pretty amazing museums in our city, and many of their gift shops echo the impressive collections with items that are an extension of their programs. It’s not just prints of paintings you see; you can buy books, puzzles, accessories, games, housewares, and lots of children’s items that are artistic, clever, and innovative. Just about all of the Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo have wonderful gift shops. And I highly recommend browsing the shops at some of the other museums in town: The National Building Museum, International Spy Museum, Phillips Collection, Newseum, and Textile Museum all have unique and interesting inventory.

Soar at iFly

For the people, young and old, in your life who like active thrills and challenges, a gift certificate or season pass for one of these action-packed pursuits is strongly recommended.
* The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, one of our favorite outdoor places to play, is an exciting aerial forest experience, where adventure-goers navigate ropes courses in the trees, with climbing for kids as young as 5 years old. Check out their gift options for the season, and read more about the adventure in this KFDC post.
* Bad Axe Throwing offers opportunities to — you guessed it! — throw axes at targets. It’s a unique and fun activity that makes for a great tween outing or grown-up evening out. We’ve been for a birthday party, and a good time was had by kids and adults alike. Read more about that experience here.
* Trapeze School New York in DC has classes in flying trapeze, static trapeze, balancing and acrobatics, trampoline, and more. Both of my kids have tried — and loved — the circus-inspired adventure at The Yards in the Capitol Riverfront (and I want to give it a whirl myself)! Read more about it here.
* iFLY Loudoun offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience “flying” without stepping foot in (or out of) an airplane. Meant to simulate skydiving, flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel on a smooth cushion of air created by high-powered fans that enable people to float. It’s quite exhilarating, but also a splurge, making it a special and unique present. Read more about it here.
* Many local ice skating rinks have season passes available for peeps who want to practice their triple lutzes and spins — or just really like to glide around.

Floor-to-ceiling fun at ClimbZone

Insider Info
Along the same lines as the suggestion above, but on a slightly more mild scale in terms of thrill-factor and cost, you can gift those who like physical pursuits with passes to a place that offers opportunities to be active indoors. With winter weather ahead, it’s a present that’s both fun and sensible!
* Flight Trampoline Park is full of bouncy fun
* Kids love scaling the colorful walls at ClimbZone
* ZavaZone has courses to challenge little ninjas
* SportRock Climbing Centers are located in Alexandria and Sterling
* SkyZone also brings the boing with trampoline filled spaces

A couple of wizards at work on their clues

Clued In
Any sleuths on your gift list? If so, solve the mystery of what to get them with Watson Adventures. These scavenger hunts that take place at local museums are as well executed as they are fun and intriguing. There are hunts for adults as well as a Harry Potter themed Wizard School quest for younger ages, too, that has you searching the National Gallery of Art for works that echo the characters, places and enchanted objects in the famed books and movies. A gift certificate to one of these experiences is like a passport to adventure! Read more about it all in this KFDC post.

Hello, Port Discovery? I’d like a membership, please.

Members Only
For children who aren’t quite old enough to climb, fly, or take in a big show, consider a membership to a museum. The National Building Museum offers family memberships for $90/year, getting you all into the Building Zone and most exhibits free of charge (regularly $7-10/person). Port Discovery in Baltimore is another great one with loads of hands-on, curiosity-piquing, educational, fun exhibits that keep kids engaged for hours. Family memberships are just $111.60 (admission is $15.95/person) if you purchase by December 25! And for adults who enjoy performing arts, membership to the Kennedy Center gets them special benefits, including the opportunity to purchase tickets before the general public.

An Artful Afternoon with SEEC

Class Acts
Has your kid expressed interest in a particular activity or sport? Give them a boost by getting them into a class! From soccer to dance to art to music to cooking to theatre, there are all kinds of sessions all around the area providing lessons and guidance that help turn curiosity into mastery and skill — and also offer a fun time. Here are some recommendations for places and programs:
* Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center offers all kinds of workshops for littles.
* Budding actors can learn the performing arts ropes with Adventure Theatre.
* Kids can get cooking with Tiny Chefs.
* Give the gift of music with lessons from Bach to Rock.
* DC Way has soccer and futsal for kids.
* All ages can groove and twirl with CityDance.
* My Gym Bethesda & Potomac have active classes for kids ages 3-10.

Give the gift of Milk Bar cake

Great Taste
You kind of can’t go wrong with the gift of food. I mean, everyone eats, and no matter how old, we all have our favorite bites and places for them. That’s why a gift certificate to a restaurant or treatery (hey, did I just make up a word?) or an edible product from a local establishment will satisfy many a giftee’s appetite or craving. Here are a few ideas to chew on:
* Rose’s Luxury still lives up to the hype
* Milk Bar makes the best Birthday Cake that you can eat anytime
* Ivy City Smokehouse never disappoints
* Sasha is obsessed with The Pretzel Bakery
* Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill in Georgetown has tasty fare in a great location
* I haven’t been, but keep hearing raves for The Dabney

Hit the Steamboat slopes

Great Escapes
Gift your whole fam with a getaway! There are some great not-too-far places for a weekend jaunt. Great Wolf Lodge caters to families with an indoor waterpark and tons of fun for kids. The Chesapeake Hyatt is popular for its indoor swimming and family-friendly amenities. With water, woods, and mountains, Deep Creek Lake has great outdoor recreation all year round.Wintergreen is a lovely all-seasons resort. For something bigger and farther away, Steamboat in Colorado is a fantastic ski resort for families, and there are often great deals on trips there. You can also just find a great VRBO or Airbnb and get out of town for a few days.

Capture them with this gift

Picture Perfect Presents
How about a gift that includes your whole gang? Present them (and yourself!) with a family portrait session. And like the last couple of years, I am recommending just the right photographer for it. As mentioned in previous gift guides, I have adored Darcy Troutman’s photos forever, mostly on her blog, No Monsters in My Bed. But over the last few years, she has started her own photography business capturing families and weddings, helping people make and preserve memories. Her style is unique and the photos gorgeous, but her real-life, let-the-moment-seize-you approach to her work is what really makes it special. Also, she’s hilarious and sweet and really comfortable to be around, the ideal personality for the job. Plus, her photos will not only capture this time in your lives, they’ll make for great gifts for extended family throughout the year, too.

gift_gtghGifts That Give Hope
How about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers, and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, while enjoying festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. The Arlington Fair will take place Saturday, December 8, at Arlington Science Focus School from 10am – 2pm. You can also purchase online after the event.

Lending a hand at DC Diaper Bank

Along the same lines as the above event, you can give to a cause or charity in someone’s name through a donation — the GIVE Page has suggestions on where to contribute, all of them shared by KFDC readers. You can give your time and plan a volunteering outing with your kids and show them the gift of giving back. A bunch of organizations around the area have opportunities for children and parents to help out in a hands-on way together. DC Diaper Bank, Wreaths Across America, DC JCC, and Capital Area Food Bank are some places to check out, and you can find even more in this KFDC post.

Great Falls nature makes for a perfect present

Give Freely
Of course, not all gifts have to come with a hefty price tag. There are so many magical yet still inexpensive experiences to be had in the DC area, some without even spending a dime. You can creatively package them up — perhaps a big, fun card with a photo — and promise a visit. Some suggestions:
* Fossil hunting adventures at Purse State Park or Flag Ponds Nature Park
* Flight fascination at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Chantilly arm of the Air & Space Museum
* An outing to Riverbend and/or Great Falls Park to enjoy some of the area’s best nature
* A tour of Ford’s Theatre to learn about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination through a museum and performance
* A visit to the Wizard of Oz playground, Old Maryland Farm, and Nature Center at Watkins Regional Park
* The Fairy Lolly and art experiences at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens
* The Washington Youth Garden, Bonsai Museum, and old Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum
* A nature walk among the lily pad laden ponds at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
* A day of play at Clemyjontri
* And there are many, many, many more right in our backyard.

* * * * *

*Perhaps the best gift of all is quality time with the people in our lives, so be sure to take advantage of it during the season. The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC is full of ideas for doing just that. Happy Holidays!

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Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Professional Service, Seasonal, Shop, Virginia, Winter