The Glowing Lakewood Puzzle

Imagine putting together a complex puzzle. You would typically start around the edges and build inward. These pieces are dark, confusing to put together, and represent all the struggles of 2020. While building towards the middle of the puzzle, the image starts to show a beautiful glowing aura, and the center shows IHSD’s Lakewood Head Start and Early Head Start team.

“We’re like a puzzle and our pieces just fit together,” site supervisor Kifah Gheith shared.

Despite the shutdown of many child care programs and teachers being stretched to new limits, the Lakewood team dug deep within themselves to channel positivity while operating during a pandemic. ”If we feel that someone is not having their best day or having a tough time, we’ll try to lift each other’s spirits,” Gheith explained. In the morning, the team makes an effort to safely greet each other. “Even if it’s a text when we’re really busy. We’ll also wave at each other,” she shared. Lakewood teacher Yamilette Carrero is another example of the team’s support for each other. While in recovery from a medical procedure, Carrero was thrilled to receive flowers from her co-workers. “I would like to share my beautiful flowers,” Carrero said. “They are blooming every day. These are the blessings, and I’m thankful for all the beautiful and positive energies that were given to me before and after my spinal surgery.” As the youngest on the Lakewood team, teacher Tuipulotu (also goes by Lotu) Tongilava really considered the risks of going to work during the pandemic while caring for her father at home but eventually returned to be with her team.

“It’s such a joy to see co-workers helping each other,” she shared. “This is a second family to me.”

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Sintiendo Los Síntomas de la Fatiga Pandémica

Esta contribucion es opinion de Nora Melendez. (Las opiniones expresadas por los autores no necesariamente reflejan las opiniones y puntos de vista y polizas de IHSD.)


Fatiga Pandémica. Es un término aún más personal para muchos de nosotros. Es el reconocimiento que ya estamos, en forma colectiva e individual, cansados hasta el hueso. Frustrados, más preocupados por nuestra salud, patrimonio y longevidad. Un día estamos bien y el próximo no tanto. Alcanzar los extremos emocionales es mucho más fácil.

Es difícil enfocarse, es duro empezar las tareas. Es más fácil perder la cordura sobre las cosas que alguna vez fueron tolerables. Los niños gritan, el trabajo es inestable, la casa un desastre. Que paso con esa persona estable quien podía con todo? A donde gano esa señora fuerte quien era la roca para los demás?

Hoy en día, se siente un poco más blanda debido a esas libritas ganadas al comer por el estrés.

A nosotros los padres de niños pequeños, quizá nos toco un poco más de suerte porque las pre-escolares pudieron abrir el pasado otoño. Pudimos recibir una poca de ayuda con la obligación de tener a TODOS los niños en casa, TODO el tiempo. Pero algunos niños mayores debieron tomar clases a distancia, que agrego la presión de educar en casa a nuestros hijos encima de las obligaciones existentes. Al mismo tiempo, tuvimos que balancear el trabajo fuera de casa, y las preocupaciones sobre el Coronavirus, y claro están los quehaceres; lavar la ropa, cocinar, la limpieza, comprar la despensa, el cuidado de niños que nunca se detuvieron.Read more

Experiencing Symptoms of Pandemic Fatigue

Opinion piece contributed by IHSD parent Nora Melendez. (Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints, and official policies of IHSD.)


Pandemic Fatigue. It’s a term that is new but increasingly personal for many of us. It’s the realization that we, as a collective and as individuals, have reached a point where we are bone tired. Frustrated, more worried about our health, wealth, and longevity. One day, we are ok and not so much the next. Getting to emotional extremes is easier.

It’s hard to focus, tough to get on task. It’s easier to get upset about things that were tolerable before. The screaming kids, the unstable job, the house a mess. What happened to that once stable individual that could handle it all? Where did that strong lady go who was the rock for everyone else?

Today, she feels a bit more squishy from the extra pounds gained from stress eating.

We, parents of young children, may have been lucky that preschools had the ability and option to open in the fall. We were able to get some relief from the pressures of having ALL the kids at home, ALL the time. But some older children had to take classes solely through distance learning, which added the pressure of homeschooling to our full parenting plate. All the while balancing outside work schedules, managing the anxiety over losing a job, and worries over the Coronavirus, and then add the duties of running a household, laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and childcare which never stopped.Read more

IHSD Teachers Connect in Solidarity During COVID Times

With very little advance notice to comply with the shelter-in-place order, IHSD followed the rest of the Bay Area and considered how to navigate uncharted waters. On Monday, March 16, IHSD quickly closed its 13 different child care program centers that serve nearly 700 children around San Mateo County. Despite needing to stay at home, IHSD teachers and staff worked diligently to consider how they would flip their infant-toddler, home-based visiting program, and preschool classrooms to support remote learning in order to remain connected with their families.

Phase 1 was an adjustment period while the entire community shifted to sheltering in place. Teachers especially not only had to assess their own tools and resources to continue working from home but also had to consider the resources and needs of the families they served. “We actually had to do a mass ordering of equipment such as additional laptops for teachers and IHSD administrative staff,” IHSD Executive Director Angel Barrios explained. “iPads from the program sites also had to be distributed to teachers at home.” 

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Family Fall Traditions from the Main Office

Staff members from the IHSD main office share some of their favorite fall traditions.


Boris Bobrov, Data Entry Tech:
My fall family tradition includes celebrating the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. My mom usually does all the festival cooking and I help with the salads and the meats. We also watch football when the San Francisco 49ers play. During the fall, we also tend to do more holiday shopping and go to the auto show at the San Francisco Moscone Center ever year. I look forward to seeing all the new automobiles that are coming out for the next year. I go with my dad and brother. Sometimes my uncle is involved as well.

Photo provided by Food & Wine

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Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton

In lieu of recent and tragic events around the nation, our hearts go out to the families and communities of Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. At IHSD, we are in the business for shaping lives and building a better future through quality child development and support services. Our efforts to teach young students socio-emotional skills ring especially important today as we witness hatred dividing our country. We teach our children empathy, kindness, respect, and self-control. These become invaluable lessons that we hope will manifest in our students to become excellent contributors to society. We are proud of the work we do, and we're thankful for your support as we start a new school year.

My #FavoritePreschoolMemory with Elizabeth Ponce

IHSD alumna-now-staff, Elizabeth Ponce, shares her #FavoritePreschoolMemory. What's yours?


I remember being in class with one of my favorite teachers, Ms. Lorreine (sp?). I didn't speak much English and being of an extremely shy temperament didn't help much. With her, I, however, remember feeling very safe. As I became felt more secure in my new environment, I remember vividly playing with my new friends outside at the Pacifica site that IHSD once had. I can still remember the structures that were there and how the outside area looked.

A second special memory I have is the visit from the firefighters, specifically the sound of their breathing in their masks as they showed us how they crawled on their hands and knees in a burning building. They turned off the lights to make the room feel darker and had us stay quiet, so we could hear the sound of their breathing.Read more