Photo Gallery: Step Two Construction Progress

    The team has made great strides, as these photos depict, from the building of the temporary entryway, to the concrete pours for new retaining walls and structures, to the framing of the Studio and finally the opening of our new, permanent entry. Plus some pictures of kids enjoying construction, just for fun!

    Constructing the Temporary Stair

    Constructing the Temporary Stair - A Second View

    Room Four Watches Construction from Across the Street

    Sue Explains the Plans to Room Four

    Concrete Pour for the New Entryway

    Foundation for the New Studio Building

    Framing for the New Studio Building

    New Entryway in Use

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    How Step One Can You Be?

    In a riff on the famous 'How Berkeley Can You Be?,' we ask our alums, staff, family and friends to share the moments that make them stop and think "Wow, that's so Step One." This month, Daniel Paige, a member of our outstanding office staff (plus parent of Addie in Room One) shares his favorite Step One customs, plus gives us a peek behind the curtain at how his work keeps our school humming along.

    What's your favorite Step One tradition?

    I love families' goodbye rituals:  some families have very elaborate ones. Pushing out the door is very cute. Addie, my daughter, who is in Room One this year came up with a lovely one - it's a kissing ritual that she would do with her mom and me (Ed: photos of Addie's ritual above). Since I'm working at Step One, after she goes to her classroom, she knows that I'm still here.

    But most of the time after we did the ritual she created, she wouldn’t pay much attention to me even when she saw me. We had had our goodbye and she was into school mode, at her direction. Those rituals children and families create can be really powerful for transition.

    What's an element of your job as Step One's Administrative Assistant that families might not know about?

    My job is a little like “Who’s on First”, a big puzzle, and an air traffic controller blended into one. I do our scheduling at Step One, making sure we have the student-teacher ratios we need. Even if a teacher is out of the classroom for fifteen minutes for a meeting, we have to keep our ratios, so we have to figure out how to cover that time and manage our staffing. Between illness, meetings, and whatever else comes up, the challenge of who is going to be where, when, is what the big scheduling calendar on my desk is all about.

    Those of us who do administrative work are here in service of the children, parents, and teachers. I'm glad to be part of the team making that work, the primary work, go smoothly.

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    In the Field with Matt Grober of Conscious Construction

    A team from Conscious Construction, the contractor building the Step Two project for Step One, has been on site since the summer and has been a lovely addition to our school's community. They have stayed on-schedule and on budget, minimized disruption to the classroom, and fielded questions from curious children with great aplomb! We interviewed Matt Grober, Project Head, about his experience supervising Step Two, his background, and what it's like to solve construction problems on the fly. For more about the Step Two project, check out!

    What has it been like running the Step Two Project?

    It’s been a great experience: Sue and the school staff are very helpful.  Our company has done schools before, but this is my first. The interaction in a commercial project tends to be more formal, but working here feels like I'm at someone's home. I've come in several times to look at how the project is coming together and the kids say hello, gather around, and ask about what we're doing. I love being with them: I have to pull myself away.

    What is your background - what brought you to construction, and what do you enjoy about it?

    I have a Bachelors in Psychology from UCLA. I moved to California right after high school and worked with my uncle in construction. Then I worked my way through school doing restaurant work. From restaurants, I got into property management, then moved to the Bay Area and stuck with construction.

    I definitely try to keep hands-on in the field but my main responsibility is management, so my psychology knowledge comes in handy. Learning how to keep people motivated and what keeps morale steady. I enjoy using psychology in an intuitive way on my projects.

    Walk us through "a day in the life" of the Step Two project.

    It's problem-solving, all day, every day. When you're digging and doing demo work as we had to, you uncover surprises. There was a moment when we found the existing electrical service line was in our way and figured out with PG&E how to nudge it gently out of the way so we didn't have to spend money for a new line. Right now I'm thinking about the construction of the Studio, that big open-beam design. It's going to be a challenge getting those beams into place in a timely way: we are trying to rent the crane for one day instead of two, which again will save us money. It's a really interesting project, and, like any project, it's all about working with what you find to solve problems.

    It does sound interesting...also stressful!

    (Laughs.) Stress does manifest - I'm physically active, and that's a big stress reliever for me, considering that I spend my days working on unexpected problems. I play in three different recreational softball leagues, and that's what lets me sleep at night.

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    A Message from Sue

    Dear Step One Friends and Family,

    A school, like a classroom, is a community. It is shaped by its traditions, its rituals, its structures and its friendships. Most of all (and again like a classroom!) Step One is shaped by the tireless work of many people who toil behind the scenes to make us shine.

    This December 2018 issue of Step One Connect focuses on "What Makes Step One Tick" -- all the work that's happening that might not be visible on the surface.

    In this month’s teacher profile, Maria Llambi discusses Step One’s substitute system and how it allows teachers both new and experienced to learn and grow. We also spoke to two of our volunteers: Jenny Herbert Creek, who gives her time and financial expertise so generously as co-chair of Step One’s Board of Trustees, and Diana Papatia, whose devotion is part of what makes Room One such a special place.

    The team from Conscious Construction is on-site every day working on realizing the school’s vision for Step Two: we talked with Matt Grober, Project Head, about what it takes to bring this exciting project in on-schedule and on-budget with minimal classroom disruption. Plus, we offer a gallery of construction photos demonstrating our progress.

    Finally, though our families interact with our amazing office staff daily, those encounters are only the tip of the iceberg. In honor of their efforts, we asked Daniel Paige to share a part of his role that happens behind the scenes as well as a favorite school tradition for this quarter’s “How Step One Can You Be”.

    In the morning classrooms, rester rooms, and Late PM program, it’s the interactions between skilled teachers that make magic. Each of these people is absolutely unique, but they are all Step One. They do their work thanks to the actions of countless individuals, including all our families past and present who bring your children, your insights, and your love.

    We could not succeed without our families and alums who contribute volunteer hours serving on the Board, leading activities in the classroom, washing the laundry, cooking breakfast at the Campout, buying crickets for the class pets, and on and on. Thank you!

    We’re grateful for everything you do. Enjoy this insight into “What Makes Step One Tick”!


    Sue Britson

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    Quantitative Communication: An Interview with Jenny Herbert Creek

    Members of Step One's Board of Trustees contribute invaluable expertise and skill to the running of our school; Jenny Herbert Creek, parent of Charlotte (Room 1) and Miles (Room 3), is our Board co-chair this year as well as a CFO and financial educator who contributes her expertise to Step One’s Finance Committee.

    One of our Board members said of Herbert Creek: “she completely changed my attitude to spreadsheets; I didn’t know they could be beautiful.”

    Learn more in our full interview.

    Hi Jenny! Thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to talk with me! Can you describe your history with Step One?

    Along with Nick Jackson, I’m co-chair of the school's Board. Prior to that I chaired the Finance Committee for a year. Before that I served on the Finance Committee and worked on Step One's Gala.

    What’s the role of the Finance Committee?

    The Finance Committee is a working committee of the Board, providing leadership in the area of Financial Sustainability, including annual budgeting and oversight and financial advising for the capital campaign. In other words, FiCom (the Finance Committee) offers the Board an "analyst team" to interpret raw financial data. We crunch the numbers with a eye toward trends and our long-term goals, then create reports that summarize data and make recommendations to the Board. This way all Board members can participate in important financial decisions, regardless of their quantitative background.

    What is your role as a leader on both the Board and the Finance Committee? 

    I love numbers and Excel. I do a lot of the heavy quantitative lifting and analysis because I enjoy it so much: I’m a spreadsheet nerd! FiCom is focused on the financial health of the school, and the Board takes the financial recommendations and analysis and considers it in the broader context of the school's values, history, and mission.  It's important to have both the targeted analysis and the big-picture vision, and so I love co-chairing the Board with Nick Jackson because he has a long history with the Board and brings a perspective that never departs from Step One’s values. We also want to have the fiscal discipline to make Step One’s vision sustainable for the long term. That’s where I see my role.

    Step One’s Board is unique; Sue has brought together many different constituencies in the community including parents, teachers, administration, and alumni. Everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard. Our decisions are never based solely on finances, but we have good financial information to bring to bear on our decisions to ensure the ongoing financial stability of the school.

    What background do you bring to your volunteer service?

    Professionally I’m the CFO of an educational services company. I also teach financial modeling to MBA students at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. I’m passionate about helping people communicate financial information more effectively, especially those who don’t think of themselves as "quants". It means so much when a student tells me that what I taught them helped them get a dream internship, or convince an investor of a project’s worth.

    Why do you give your time to Step One as a volunteer?

    I believe in Step One and its mission. Step One is a model for early childhood education, an area which often gets overlooked in philanthropy. I knew Step One was the place for us when my mother-in-law, a professor of Early Childhood Education at Mills, gave the program her enthusiastic endorsement. Over the years, it’s given both of our children so much; that’s why I invest in Step One in many ways.

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