Words and images from a week in our Parent Education Program

We love sharing SCANSnapshot posts here on the blog. Giving you a glimpse of our programs – the parents, children and volunteers who make it all happen – is a great way for us to show you the things we could never fully explain with words alone, including…


The quiet interest and uncertainty of parents as facilitators begin to share knowledge the first night of Parenting Class…


The giggles and joy in the Children’s Program as the kids jump into their first yoga class…


The sense of security when parents sit with others who will not judge, but understand their struggles…


The excitement that comes with opportunities to reach new communities of families, like the Spanish-speaking parents at two local schools who will be a part of our brand new Parent Cafe series launching next month.

Interest. Joy. Security. Excitement. Want to learn more about our Parent Education Program and its impact on local families? Click here.

SCANStar: One Year, One Perspective

Just a year ago, Kiesha Boney stepped into her very first volunteer opportunity with SCAN’s Parent Education Program. Since then she’s volunteered 40+ hours, working alongside SCAN’s Children’s Program Coordinator and helping children learn and grow in a structured children’s program while their parents participate in weekly educational support group sessions. We asked Kiesha to share how her first year has gone at SCAN, and we’re delighted to share her thoughts with you this week:

BuildingBlocks: How long have you volunteered with SCAN, and what have you done as a volunteer?
Kiesha: I have been volunteering with SCAN since November 2011. I provide support, care and structured activities for children while their parents participate in SCAN’s Parent Education programs.

BB: Why did you decide to join SCAN as a volunteer?
Kiesha: While pursuing my dream to be a social worker, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with all different types of children and their families. Because of these experiences, I wanted to get involved with SCAN because I whole-heartedly believe in the importance and necessity of its mission to promote the well-being of children, improve parent-child relations and prevent child abuse and neglect.

BB: Describe your favorite SCAN memory.
Kiesha: My favorite SCAN memory was  completing an artistic activity with the children at a parent support group one evening. They were asked to draw an illustration of what they would like to be when they grow up. The children were very excited and used their imaginations to the fullest. It was great to watch them and be a part of their dreaming.

BB: Why have you continued volunteering with SCAN?
Kiesha: I have continued to volunteer with SCAN because the organization is dedicated to supporting, educating and appreciating children, parents AND volunteers.

BB: Has anything about being a SCAN volunteer surprised you?
Kiesha: I was surprised by how supportive the families are to one another.

BB: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? What do you do now?
Kiesha: When I was a child I wanted to be involved in fashion when I grew up. Now I am pursuing a career in the field of social work.

BB: What was your favorite book/movie/activity when you were a child?
Kiesha: My favorite activities as a child were dance and karate.

BB: Who was a positive influence in your childhood?
Kiesha: My mother was a positive influence in my childhood and throughout my whole life.

BB:  What are your current interests/jobs/hobbies?
Kiesha: Traveling around the world.

BB: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Kiesha: I enjoy relaxing and listening to books on tape.

BB: What would you tell someone thinking about volunteering with SCAN?
Kiesha: Volunteering with SCAN is a great idea! SCAN is a strong organization truly dedicated to their mission. I’m proud to be a part of their cause.

SCANStar: This is what hope looks like.

“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

Kaylyn Pennock is certainly not waiting.

You know those people you can always count on to do a good job? The people who make everyone’s eyes light up? Now let me ask – are they teenagers?

In the eyes of SCAN, 16-year-old Kaylyn is one of those stellar people. She makes the SCAN team feel happy and very hopeful for the future.

A childcare volunteer at SCAN’s ABCs of Parenting Class and Parent Support Groups, Kaylyn has been through it all—from toddler tantrums to rambunctious young boys to older youth struggling with schoolwork—and in the midst of every challenging situation, Kaylyn has maintained a loving and compassionate demeanor with ALL the children around her.

So last month, when SCAN’s Parent Education Coordinator Sam Poyta nominated Kaylyn for the Connect with Kids Champion Award, we were ecstatic to hear that she was chosen out of dozens of other Northern Virginia high school students for this well-deserved honor!

Kaylyn is a junior at West Potomac High School studying Early Childhood Development. When asked to describe Kaylyn, her Childhood Development Teacher Ava Bergan said this:

“Kaylyn’s gentle, soft spoken demeanor encompasses her kindness, compassion and commitment to everyone she meets and everything she does”. WOW! We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

On April 23, Sam and AIPC Member Mary Ann Moran from the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families presented Kaylyn with her Connect with Kids Champion Award during her Childhood Development class.

Along with certain bragging rights that come with being a Connect with Kids Award Recipient, all of the spring 2012 Champions will be announced at future Arlington County Board and School Board meetings.

Congratulations just doesn’t say enough, Kaylyn. SCAN is honored to have you as a volunteer and supports you in all of the wonderful things that lie ahead for you (and the people lucky enough to be around you)!

p.s. We hope that Kaylyn’s commitment and impact inspires YOU to volunteer for SCAN! Check out all of our great volunteer opportunities here.

Parenting: From A-Z

Today’s the day! (Yes, it’s National Hot Fudge Sundae Day and National Merry-Go-Round Day, but that’s not what we’re talking about.) It’s the first day of registration for ABCs of Parenting Class! And in honor of that day, seven SCAN staff members took on the entire alphabet to bring you 26 tips and pieces of advice about parenting. Here are SCAN’s ABCs of Parenting from A-Z:

[Rebekah Beck – Education Program Manager]

Shannon (left) and Rebekah (right) pose for a photo during our spring ABCs class

Acceptance – Your child is his/her own person with their own abilities, interests, and dreams…not a carbon copy of you.

Behavior – Focus on the behavior separate from who your child is– we all do things we aren’t proud of from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we are any less of a person.

Compassion – Remember how difficult it was to grow up with all of the ups and downs, success and struggles. They don’t call them growing pains for nothing.

Discipline – It’s a way of teaching your child how to succeed and learn from their mistakes in a positive, affirming way while helping them distinguish right from wrong by your example through patient, nurturing guidance.

[Shannon May – Parent Education Coordinator]

Energy – Keeping up with your children’s energy level can be exhausting, but hang in there and make sure to take care of yourself each day.

FUN! – Find joy in the silly and even frustrating moments with your kids.

Growing – Celebrate each stage of your child’s development and give yourself credit for the ways that you grow and learn in your parenting throughout each stage.

Hard – No joke, there are days when you feel like you’re at your wits end—but hang in there!

[Sonia Quiñónez- Executive Director]

Volunteer Nancy plays with the children of ABCs participants in the spring

Individuals – Every child is different. Being an effective, positive parent means trying to figure out what works best for your particular child.

Joy – Children bring joy into our lives. Even in the difficult times, try to appreciate the joy your child can open up for your family.

Kindness – Treating your child with kindness and respect teaches them to respect themselves, how to care for themselves, and how to treat others with respect and kindness as well.

Love – When you’re at your wits end, ask yourself, “What would love do?” Approaching difficult conversations and the trials of parenthood with love keeps our problems in perspective and allows opportunities for growth and joy in our families.

[Dana Taylor – CASA Case Supervisor]

Moments – Make the most of downtime with your child.  Teachable moments can be implemented in almost any situation. Take advantage of the moment and teach your child a thing or two.

Nurture – Nurture your child’s natural gifts. This helps to increase your child’s self-esteem and sense of well-being.

Outlet – As a parent, consider having a healthy outlet. It is important to self-care by taking care of your physical and emotional/mental health.

Praise – Praise your child!  Use phrases like, “good job,” “you’re awesome,” “I’m proud of you,” and “you’re beautiful.”

[Karen Price – Director of Development]

Quality Time – It’s not just about how much time you spend with your kids, but also about the quality of that time.  Your kids are great people in the making, so make sure you give yourself a chance to just hang out and get to know what they are thinking and feeling.

Role Model – Remember that your kids watch everything you do and will learn more from what you do than what you say.  You are their role model!

Skills – It takes skill to be a parent and there’s no instruction manual, but there are lots of services and websites with tips and advice to parents.  When you hit a snag, use them to connect with other parents and get some new ideas.

Time For Yourself– Recharging and taking a little quiet time for yourself makes you a better parent.  Don’t feel bad for taking care of yourself too!

A spring session ABCs grad and her son pose with class facilitators after receiving their certificates

[Sarah Self – Public Education Coordinator]

Unbelievable – The things kids say. The lengths parents will go. The whole parenting experience. No matter how many times you’ve been told, you never really quite believe it until you experience it for yourself. And even then every day is a surprise/shock!

Valuable – Parents gain skills that can make a difference in other aspects of their lives. From patience to perspective to anger and stress management, working on these skills as a parent can be valuable in other situations too, such as interacting with co-workers or communicating with family members.

Work – Nobody is born knowing how to parent, and it’s one of the toughest jobs in the world. It takes work (and a lot of it) to nurture a child and build a family. And just like work, there are sources of training (like parenting classes) and team-building (like support groups) that can help you constantly improve your skills!  

[Jenna Temkin – Summer Intern]

eXhale – Never underestimate the power of a deep breath. When your children or life in general get to be overwhelming, simply taking a deep breath can make a huge difference.

Years – They go by quickly… or at least that’s what my parents tell me! Appreciate each moment with your children because they’ll grow up faster than you think.

Zonked (Exhausted, Asleep) – Parenting is tiring. And I can guess that  reading the entirety of this post was, too. Good job to those of you who made it to the end!


If you or someone you know would like to learn even more about parenting, you can register for SCAN’s ABCs of Parenting Class in English by calling Parent Education Coordinator Shannon May at 703-820-9001. Classes are held on Tuesdays from August 23 to October 11 from 6-8:30pm at First Assembly of God Church.

Learning My ABCs: An Intern’s Take on ABCs of Parenting Class in Spanish

Even though I’ve taken my fair share of Spanish classes, I would be lucky if I could ask someone for directions to the nearest supermercado in Spanish. (Sorry, former Spanish teachers!) Fortunately, I didn’t have to understand  subjunctive verb conjugations to get a sense of the accomplishment that graduates of our ABCs of Parenting In Spanish class felt during their last session.

Facilitators demonstrate an activity for parents on the last night of class

There were festivities throughout the night to celebrate the eight weeks that participants spent learning the ins and outs of parenting. Before class, families, volunteers, and facilitators devoured a pot luck dinner of delicious dishes from many of the family’s home countries. I wish I could tell you the names of the dishes, but I was a little too busy eating everything in sight to ask anyone.

After our feast, parents headed off to class and I waddled over to a classroom in the First Assembly of God Church to observe the children’s programming. While the younger kids made collages, the older kids participated in their last yoga class of the session provided by Yo Kid…Stretch Your Limits. I was a little skeptical about the skill level of elementary school-aged kids, but as soon as they rolled out their mats it was clear that they were old pros. From downward dog to balancing poses that would make me fall flat on my face, these kids looked like yogis.

Kids show off their yoga skills

We topped off the night with a graduation ceremony, where parents received certificates for completing the course. Parents and their children walked across the church’s stage to the cheers of fellow classmates and their families. Even the kids received a YoKid certificate and yoga mat to continue practicing yoga. “How do you say paparazzi in Spanish?” one volunteer asked, as parents snapped photo after photo of class participants and volunteers. If that is any indication, this session of ABCs was one to remember.

One ABCs participant, Wendy, said the class taught her to how to incorporate rewards and praise into her parenting style. Wendy said she used to only focus on setting rules for her children; now she maintains a healthy balance between praising her children and reprimanding them when necessary. Wendy added that she wished there were more class sessions. “It’s never enough,” she said.

A SCAN volunteer helps a child with her collage

If you would like to register for the next session of ABCs of Parenting in English, call our Parent Education Coordinator Shannon May at 703-820-9001 beginning Monday, July 25. Classes meet on Tuesdays from August 23-October 11 at First Assembly of God Church in Alexandria.  Registration for classes in Spanish begins on September 19. The class will meet on Thursdays from October 20-December 15, excluding winter holidays. Both classes begin with a light meal at 6pm and last until 8:30pm. The class and childcare are free.

-Jenna Temkin

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About SCAN

Welcome to Building Blocks! SCAN has finally dived into the world of blogging, and we’re thrilled to bring you a variety of exciting posts in our kick-off week. Although you’ll be sure to hear a lot about our programs and amazing volunteers, Building Blocks isn’t just a blog about SCAN’s efforts. You can also find the latest info on child abuse prevention and a host of interesting information about parenting from around the web. We also have some great giveaways lined up (hint: they involve coffee!), so be sure to check back often.

Writing your first post for a brand new blog can be a little daunting. First impressions are important, and I’m not sure who would read this blog again if I spent my first post rambling about Virginia state laws or the origin of the pinwheel. So instead of giving you the same information you read about in each SCAN newsletter, I thought I’d put it all out on the table and reveal ten things you didn’t know about SCAN.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About SCAN…plus one more for good measure!

1. While we at SCAN of Northern Virginia like to think we’re special, we’re not the only SCAN in the country. There are SCAN’s in communities across the U.S., but Greater Richmond SCAN and SCAN of Northern Virginia are the only two organizations using the name in Virginia.

2. More than 65% of parents who participated in our Parent Education Programs in 2010-2011 were foreign-born, Spanish-speaking parents.

Kids relax with some yoga at our ABC's of Parenting Class

3. Think yoga is only for hippies or Hollywood celebrities? Think again. SCAN partners with YoKid…Stretch Your Limits to provide yoga instruction to children of participants in our ABC’s of Parenting Classes.  While parents learn about praise and discipline, their children learn the ins and outs of sun salutations and warrior poses. Check out this video to learn about one child’s positive experience with yoga!

4. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in his college dorm room. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack started Apple in a garage. And our founder Dave Cleary started SCAN in his basement. Many great companies started in humble locations, and SCAN was no exception when Dave founded it in 1988.  Just this year, Dave was named “2011 Champion for Children” by the Center for Alexandria’s Children.

5. 18 CASA volunteers have been advocating for youth through our Alexandria/Arlington CASA program since 2006. That’s five years of service!

6. What do rug showrooms and loveseats have to do with SCAN? Well, we asked ourselves that same question when we  started receiving weekly phone calls from people asking to see our furniture showroom. We thought we were the victims of an elaborate prank calling scheme, but it turns out that we share our name with a now-defunct furniture store in the DC area.

7. Turn your radio dial to 98.7 WMZQ, HOT 99.5 or BIG 100.3 and you might hear the voice of our executive director Sonia Quiñonez. Thanks to our partnership with Clear Channel Communications, you can listen to Parenting Today on major radio stations in the DC area.

8. We’re not big name-droppers at SCAN, but we think it’s pretty great that former NBC4 news anchor Keith Garvin used to be on our board of directors. He has also participated in numerous SCAN events and fundraisers.

We blew out 20 candles at our Toast to Hope birthday celebration!

9. SCAN celebrated its 20th birthday in 2008 with a record-breaking Toast to Hope celebration, along with official recognition from cities and counties honoring our two decades of service.

10. While I don’t like to toot my own horn, ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program (CSJP) interns at SCAN have spearheaded some awesome projects. Our Twitter account, Facebook page, and now our very first blog have all been launched by CSJP interns.

11. Ever wonder what makes SCAN’s website and newsletter so appealing? It might just be our go-to font, Myriad Pro.

Keep checking back throughout the week for a special giveaway, volunteer profile, links to parenting topics, YouTube videos, and updates from our last AIPC meeting!

Have any questions about the ten things you probably didn’t know? Want to share your ideas for Building Blocks? Give us your thoughts in our comments section!

-Jenna Temkin