Carnegie Mellon University

2020–2021 Family Spotlights

October | November | January | February | March | April | May

October 2020: Snapshot of Our Community

During September, the friends in all of our classes get to know each other by sharing information about themselves and their families, which prompts us to discuss similarities and differences so that we can better appreciate the diversity among us.  The “All About Me” projects in the preschool and kindergarten give children and families an opportunity to get to know each other better.  They will be highlighted on the classroom web sites for family viewing! 

This quarter, we have 51 families with 53 children in Children’s School programs, including 15 only children.  Eight of these families are new to the school.  Among our families, we have several in which the parent is a Children’s School alum, and one of our students is the great-grandson of our founding director, Dr. Ann Baldwin Taylor. 

Fifteen of our families have a parent who is a current graduate student, staff member, or faculty member at Carnegie Mellon.  Thirteen of our mothers and one father identified themselves as stay-at-home parents.  The other parents listed a wide variety of professions, including Analyst, Artist, Attorney, Banker, Brick Layer, Business Owner, Car Dealership Owner, Chief Security Officer, Data Scientist, Designer, Editor, Energy Trader, Engineer, French Teacher, Investor, Mail Carrier, Mathematician, Musician, Nurse, Occupational Therapist, Ph.D. Student, Physician, Producer, Product Manager, Professor, Program Manager, Public Health Educator, Public Relations, Researcher, Special Education Teacher, Teacher, Tech Support Specialist, and Yoga Instructor. 

Nearly 34% of our children are dual language learners (18).  This year, we have families speaking at least 10 languages besides English: Cantonese, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, Telegu, Turkish.

As one way of helping families get to know each other across pods, we will introduce one or more each month in our newsletter’s Family Spotlight column.  Please contact Mrs. Rosenblum if you would like to be a featured family.  You can see prior family profiles on the Children’s School web site under “For Families”.  The Carrington, Lagemann, Lam, Lama, Laurent, O’Leary, and Sabol families have introduced themselves in the last two years.


November 2020: Dr. Taylor's Great Grandson


One of the few fortunate things that this year has wrought is the opportunity to send my son, Wyatt Taylor Stevens, to The Children’s School. 

My grandmother, Ann Baldwin Taylor, founded the school more than fifty years ago, and I remember visiting frequently when I was a child, being fascinated by the notion that kids could be ‘studied’ and that education was an evolving and creative endeavor for everyone. I remember the Children’s School as a kind of magical laboratory, and never wanted to leave. But I didn’t live in Pittsburgh, so I never attended the school. As an adult I started my family elsewhere, too, so The Children’s School was a bit of a fantasy place and a gold standard that I aspired to for my son as we thought about his education elsewhere.

With no good reason to stay in our small apartment in New York, my husband, Matt, and Wyatt and I moved the Pittsburgh over the summer so that Wyatt could go to The Children’s School. It really has been as wonderful as I thought it would be: The thoughtfulness of all of the teachers and staff, the tone of communication as we navigate the pandemic crisis together, the way I see Wyatt’s imagination and abilities developing.

My grandmother— affectionately, “Ma,”—is someone who cares about her own legacy, and I feel that legacy expressed every day now. She was a powerful person with a lot of pride in her work and her people, a professional woman, with a ton of creativity and drive. Her upbringing was modest, growing up in central Pennsylvania, at first having children and fashioning her life around my grandfather, an architect, who ultimately taught at the College of Fine Arts, meanwhile working as a nursery school teacher. She eventually perused her PhD in early childhood education, one of the fields that accepted women. Eventually, at the age of 45 she founded a lab school at Carnegie Mellon that is The Children’s School. Ma’s willpower was strong. I think she was the kind of person who was bound to build something someday, by any means necessary. We are so lucky that that thing is The Children’s School. 

A couple of weeks ago we got to visit Ma her senior living center. Wyatt drew pictures for her, and we caught up as well as we could in these strange circumstances. Ma was so pleased to hear about Wyatt’s experience at The Children’s School now, and is very proud to know he’s there.


January 2021: The Growing Moore Family


Happy New Year, Children’s School families! We are Sarah and Alex Moore, with our children Ewan and Molly. Alex is a marketing analytics consultant from Canonsburg, and Sarah is a pediatric occupational therapist from Columbus, Ohio. We met while attending the University of Pittsburgh as undergraduates and have embraced Pittsburgh as our home since. We currently live in Regent Square and are expecting our 3rd baby soon -- by the time you read this, she will already be here! Indeed, Isla was born on December 20th.

We are so happy to be part of the Children’s School community, with Ewan in the Kindergarten and Molly in the Preschool 3’s. We are in our second year in the Children’s School, and we could not imagine being anywhere else. The community here is so incredibly special. Our family enjoys traveling (normally) and exploring nature, and we hope to instill in our children an awareness of other places, a respect for all cultures, and an appreciation for the environment. Some of our family’s most favorite and frequent Pittsburgh adventures include Phipps, the Zoo, the Carnegie Museums, and biking around the city. It has been so fun to watch our children make the connection that so many of these places are right next door to their everyday school experience. The School resonates so well with our family because its philosophy is rooted in a global perspective and values an openness to learning through play and a focus on exploration. The educators and culture of the school communicate such a clear respect for children’s individual interests and ways of learning - something we know our children can feel!

In an otherwise crazy year, the Children’s School has provided our children a nurturing and supportive environment that has helped them to grow as people. They’ve been able to learn and experience enrichment through the hard work and dedication of the teachers and administrators, who have exceeded our expectations at every opportunity. There is no better place in Pittsburgh for our children, and we are so fortunate to be a part of the Children’s School! 

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February 2021: Improvisation and Adventure


February greetings from the Swarnapuri-Kamaraj family! We are Silpa, Deepan, Advaith and Lana, and we live in Regent Square, just a few blocks from our favorite place in the world, Frick Park! Deepan is a physician from India, who graduated with a PhD in Rehab Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh and works for UPMC Enterprises. Silpa studied law in Pittsburgh and is a writer. Lana is our active, loyal and fiercely protective border-beagle. We are into our second year at The Children’s School, and Addy is loving online Zoom classes with Mrs. Blizman and his “faraway” friends.

swarnapuri-kamaraj-1-min.jpgOur world, as it is now, is a product of serendipity, faith and curiosity. We both made the journey from India to the US about a decade apart in pursuit of higher studies. We met in Pittsburgh after living in several other cities. After meeting, we realized that we had connections through friends and family that surprised us – India is a country of about 1.4 billion, after all! Even our discovery of The Children’s School was the fruit of a happy, unexpected friendship, and, oh, how thankful we are for it. That there should exist an educational institution that syncs with our philosophies and whose educators strive to address and communally work through the questions that have sprung to the fore this year has been a blessing.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it has been the value of improvisation and adventure. Last summer, we had planned an extension of the school’s unit on rainforests by visiting some of India’s most verdant jungles in search of tigers and elephants. Instead, we picked up amateur birding books, a pair of trusty binoculars, and trudged hours every weekend on the hills and dales of nearby state parks. We discovered so much beauty in our own backyards. We picnicked and stargazed, discovered bugs, and learned to make cookies and wildflower bouquets before returning to a modified version of school in the fall. Our new routine became the much-anticipated Zoom classes and cacophonous multilingual Skype calls with the grandparents (which often included a rehash of things learned in class). Addy was also thrilled to be at school on campus for the second quarter, and he carries the memories of his friends and hopes to be reunited with them later in 2021.

We have celebrated and learned a new appreciation for the little certainties of routine while negotiating the vagaries of the year. Addy has taught us that there can be newness in things we take for granted, joy in re-discovering the mundane through young eyes, and that love does not have to be limited by distance. We know that in many ways, he is who he is because of the experiences he has had in school. This time has been a difficult stretch, but we might have found it harder to be the happy, thriving little quartet that we are without the loving infrastructure The Children’s School has afforded us.

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March 2021: Parent/Educator Families

The Johnson Family

Leslie Johnson and her husband, Ryan, enjoy time with their three children, Lila (5), Caden (3), and Asher (7 months). Whether it’s spending time inside creating things or outside exploring new parks, they find nothing better than a relaxing weekend together.

"I wholeheartedly believe that one of the best aspects about working at the Children’s School, is getting to be in the same school as my daughter, Lila. As a Kindergartener heading to Elementary School, I am trying to treasure every bit of this crazy year with her. Having her at school definitely makes the mornings busier, even more stressful. But seeing her little wave from the bathroom window makes it all worthwhile! I enjoy having the perspective of both a parent and an educator. Deeply knowing the Children’s School program as a teacher gives me even more confidence in where she goes to learn and play each day. As a bonus, I am able to test out my ideas ahead of time with Lila and her younger brother, Caden. I could not ask for a better job or a better place to send my child. Caden is already excited to begin next year in the Green Room and finally experience where his mommy and sister go each day!"

Holly Blizman and her husband, Jeff, keep busy with their two children, Lily (5) and Noah (18 months). They enjoy cooking and baking, exploring different hiking trails and taking walks around their neighborhood.

blizman-900x600-min.jpg"I’ve been teaching at The Children’s School for the past nine years. Normally, you could find me in the Kindergarten classroom, but this school year I opted for a different challenge, teaching Pre-K and Kindergarten friends remotely. In addition to a new teaching adventure, I was lucky to experience being a first time Children’s School parent as well. My daughter was excited to have her mom as her teacher and eager to meet new friends. Being an educator is an amazing experience, being entrusted in the development of growing minds and being a first-hand witness to the connections being made, friendships being built, and growing love of learning. Having the chance to formally be my daughter’s teacher has also been an amazing experience. This experience has allowed me to be a fly on the wall of my daughter’s learning and exploration. Being a teacher and a parent at The Children’s School allows me the chance to see the excitement in Lily’s eyes as she shares with classmates, the eagerness when she talks with friends, and the ability to fill in the gaps as she recaps her day for her father and brother. Being a teacher is great, but being a teacher for your own child is a wonderful perk!"
(at left) The Blizman Family

April 2021: Twins Find Individual Voices


The Rao Family have been part of the Children’s School community since their sons, Lev and Kiran, joined the Blue Room in 2019. Dahlia and Shiv Rao met while studying History at Carnegie Mellon in 2000 and returned to Pittsburgh from Ann Arbor to start their family in 2010. Shiv is a Cardiologist at UPMC and the CEO and Founder of Abridge, a startup that helps people record, understand, and follow through on their health. Dahlia has worked as an arts education consultant for both community organizations and university-community partnerships across Pittsburgh. Lev and Kiran have a 10-year-old sister named Mila who attends the Fanny Edel Falk School. They will miss CMU tremendously when the boys join Mila there next year. We all hope to stay involved and connected!

Lev and Kiran completely adore their classroom, the teachers, and their friends at the Children’s School. They have thrown themselves fully into the ocean exploration unit and come home with so much new knowledge and even more questions to investigate together! They have formed friendships and found their individual voices in the classroom. We feel lucky to have found a school that has fostered their growth so much during this particularly challenging year!

May 2021: Teachers & Love of Learning

lartigue1.jpgHeloise said in the Yellow Room, “I want to be a teacher and make robots.” That’s probably because her mom is a professor at Toulouse University in France, and a visiting researcher at CMU, and her father a roboticist.

Heloise was born in France and moved to Pittsburgh when she was 2.5 years old. She spoke French first and learnt English while in Pittsburgh. Heloise started in the Green Room and is now in Kindergarten, and she already corrects her mother's English! Being foreigners, we valued that the Children's School had so many multilingual children. The teachers are used to interacting with non-native speakers. What we were looking for was a school that Heloise would love attending and that gave her the love of learning. The CMU Children's School exceeded our expectations! She loves her teachers and jumps out of the car every morning to join her friends.

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We have enjoyed making new friends among the Children’s School families. We also love watching Heloise learn about the oceans, ancient Egypt, and so much more, by doing super creative projects.

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A big thank you to the teachers of Green Room, Yellow Room, Remote Learning, Kindergarten, and to Dr. Carver for starting her learning journey on such a strong footing.  –Berangere & Sarjoun Lartigue