Let Children PLAY!

A recent article in the NYT and a 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics study remind us of the importance of play. Both the article and study emphasize playful learning as critically important for the developing child.  Other countries like China and Finland are shifting away from over-testing, academic rankings and high-achievement to “purposeful play” and having great results and outcomes for kids.

I have long been a fan of the Reggio Emilia approach out of a small town in Italy. In these programs, teachers are facilitators of the learning process.  The instruction is student-centered and focused on the child’s interests. In a Reggio-inspired school, you will see children exploring, hypothesizing, questioning, discussing and debating their ideas in collaborative ways. What you will not see are worksheets, flashcards and standardized tests.

Many children in the United States actually begin SAT prep and tutoring as early as fourth grade. While we are focusing on test preparation, our children are missing out on a critical ingredient in their education and in their childhood - PLAY!

Could the lack of play be contributing to the increase in diagnosed cases of mental health disorders, depression and anxiety in our preschool and elementary school children? Our children, families and teachers are stressed out.

In Finland, they focus on play, the arts and creating joy in learning from early childhood through high school. Children are assessed daily to gauge their progress, but not in the form of high stakes testing.

Our children need MORE:

  • Indoor & outdoor PLAY

  • Discovery

  • Self-directed intellectual & physical activities (children’s choice time not teacher-directed activities)

  • Exploration

  • Creativity

Learning should be fun and play should be the heart of a child’s education! The early years are the best time to foster a love for learning in our children. If we took lessons from other countries concerning the connection between learning and play, we might have less stressed-out and anxious children and PARENTS, too.

Do you have an example of play-based learning? Send to Lorie at llee@e3va.org with a picture. We will give you a shout out on social media.

Posted on August 27, 2019 .

2019 New E3 School Case Settlement

The Problem

Every fall, too many children are struggling when they enter kindergarten.  Without early intervention, the achievement and readiness gaps widen.

42% of kindergarten students in school divisions participating in the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP) entered school not ready in literacy, math, self- regulation or social skills.


The Solution

High-quality early education can close the achievement and readiness gaps.

The New E3 School is a state-of-the-art demonstration model school for children ages one to five located in the Park Place neighborhood of Norfolk.  The innovative, mixed-income model focuses on the elements of high quality that lead to kindergarten readiness for all children. 

The STREAMin3 model is being piloted in over 100 classrooms (private, faith-based, the Virginia Preschool Initiative and Head Start) across the state. 

The Results

· All four-year-old children met or exceeded the benchmarks for literacy, math, social skills & self-regulation regardless of socioeconomic background.

· All children receiving scholarships met or exceeded the benchmarks in math, self-regulation and social skills. 

· Every classroom met or exceeded the benchmarks in each of the CLASS domains. 

The school is a catalyst for policy change
and impacting children in our region & Virginia.

Make an Impact Today!

We believe, as you do, that every child in our region deserves a high quality education and that begins with early education.  Sadly, every year we turn away children and families who desperately need scholarships to attend our school.  Your gift to The New E3 School’s Scholarship Fund will provide a young child from a low-income family with the early education they need and deserve. 

Visit newe3school.org today to make an online donation to The New E3 School Scholarship Fund or mail a check to P.O. Box 3904, Virginia Beach, VA 23454 and provide a child from a low-income family the opportunity to attend.

Posted on August 8, 2019 .

Governor Northam Establishes Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness

Directs state agencies to develop plan to expand access to early education for all at-risk three- and four-year-olds by 2025

NORFOLK—Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Directive Four, which establishes the Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness. The Team will be responsible for making recommendations that unify and strengthen Virginia’s early childhood system, including developing a plan to ensure all at-risk three-year-olds and four-year-olds in Virginia have access to a publicly-subsidized care and education option by 2025.


“In recent years, bipartisan work has produced positive results, yet 40 percent of Virginia children are arriving in kindergarten unprepared for success in school,” said Governor Northam. “Providing a quality publicly-subsidized care and education option for all underserved three- and four-year-olds is the best investment we can make in our workforce of the future.”

The Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness will also develop recommendations to maximize use of current early childhood education funding and create a uniform quality measurement and improvement system for all programs receiving public dollars. The Team will submit a written report to the Governor by September 30, 2019.

“Currently, over 70 percent of economically disadvantaged families with three-year-olds lack access to affordable, quality early care and education,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “We envision a Virginia where working families are able to pursue their dreams because they have safe, dependable, and quality care for their children.”

The Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness will be co-chaired by the Chief School Readiness Officer and the Commissioner of Virginia Department of Social Services. The Team will be comprised of staff from executive branch agencies, including the Department of Education, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Planning and Budget.

“Inequity in early education begins in the first critical years before a child reaches kindergarten, when about 90 percent of the brain is developed,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This is a major step toward ensuring all children have the support they need to succeed in school and life, no matter who they are or where they live.”

“Eliminating child care deserts and adding more options for quality early childhood care and education are critical components to supporting the health of the whole family,” added Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD. “We look forward to making a major impact on the future health and well-being of tomorrow’s leaders.”

Full text of Executive Directive Four can be found here.

This directive also kicks off four regional stakeholder listening sessions headlined by the Commissioner of Virginia Department of Social Services and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dates and locations for listening sessions can be found below.

Monday, August 12
9:00 AM
Dominion Enterprises
150 Granby Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23510

Wednesday, August 14
10:00 AM
ACCA Child Development Center
7200 Columbia Pike, Suite 2
Annandale, Virginia 22003

Thursday, August 15
10:00 AM
Salem High School
400 Spartan Drive
Salem, Virginia 24153

Friday, August 16
2:00 PM
Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Department of Social Services
9501 Lucy Corr Circle
Chesterfield, Virginia 23832

Reference - https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/july/headline-841782-en.html

Posted on August 5, 2019 .

Out & About with Your Preschooler

We all know that those errands over the weekend can be stressful for parents and children. As you were thinking of using that delivery service for groceries or your Saturday trip to the store, new research out of Davidson College encourages us to make the most of those errands. I would even say make the most of your trip to the store from the red stop sign to the numbers on the speed limit sign as you go from here to there.

It turns out that letting children actively participate in that trip to the grocery store and talking about it improves academic achievement in reading and math. The next time you are at the grocery store, take a moment to look around and recognize all of the learning that can happen. There are shapes, colors, words, signs and lots of numbers to explore and talk about as you are making your way down the aisle.


@ the Grocery Store or around town:

·      Let them make their own grocery list (with letters, words or pictures)

·      Give them your list to check off

·      Let them put items in the cart

·      Give them a basket to put a few things into

·      Talk about what you are trying to find or need

·      Create a grocery store notebook for them to draw and write in (keeps them busy & learning)

·      Look for numbers

·      Count the apples as you place them in the bag

·      Sort by colors, shapes and sizes

·      Play iSpy to find certain fruits, vegetables, pasta or types of cereal

·      Take a calculator and let them punch in numbers or try to add up all the things in the cart

·      Go on a shape hunt (try to find a cylinder, triangle, rectangle or 3D shapes)

Children love to help and do what adults around them do! If you give them a job, the errand will be fun for you too. Not to mention, all of the learning that is happening as you do.

Posted on August 5, 2019 .

The New E3 School Board Book Drive

Here at The New E3 School, we LOVE to read and we LOVE our books – especially our youngest children!

That’s why we’re having a BOARD BOOK DRIVE for our 1 and 2-year-old classrooms (board books are much more durable for infants and toddlers).

Will you donate a board book or two?

Our preschoolers were delighted to help with the drive and decorated a big box for you to fill up.

We would love to get books about science, math, the ABCs, rhyming words, animals, dinosaurs, trucks and anything that helps our students learn.

Drop off books today at The New E3 School in Norfolk.

Posted on July 19, 2019 .

Back to Nature


You cannot go wrong with bubbles & polka dots on a summer day! One of the special places at our school is the nature playground. It is a place where children can run, dig, plant, play in water, collect rocks, read on a tree stump, crawl through tires & see-saw with their friends. 

The other day when I was there, I saw a sand and water table turned into a pot of soup. It might have looked like mulch, soil and water to you, but a group of children worked together to cook up a delicious soup for all to enjoy.

When you walk through our nature playground, you will see children banging chimes in the music center, building castles with blocks, making forts and painting at the outdoor easel.

There is nothing typical about our playground. You will not see a swing or slide. What you will see is creativity, imagination and brain building happening in nature. We bring the learning outside and have lots of fun too!

You can get back to nature with your children at home. Take some time with your child this summer to:

·      Collect rocks, leaves and seashells on a nature walk and then count all the things you gathered.

·      Separate your items into groups and classify them by color or shape.

·      Talk about what you see around you – bugs, butterflies, birds and plants.

·      Plant flowers in a garden or clay pot.

·      Take chalk outside and draw on the pavement.

·      Play hopscotch or jump rope.

·      Wash cars, bikes & windows with a bucket of soap & hose.

·      Blow bubbles

Summer is the perfect time to learn outdoors and make some wonderful memories with your family!

Posted on July 12, 2019 .

Establishing the Building Blocks of High-Quality, Early Childhood Education


Amanda Williford, an associate professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development who partners with leaders across Virginia to lead research and assessment efforts for Virginia’s Early Education Initiatives, recently featured E3: Elevate Early Education and The New E3 School in an op-ed published by The Hill.

"Coalitions such as the Elevate Early Education (E3) initiative have established an entire demonstration school devoted to the most important elements of high-quality, early childhood education, including STREAMin3, an innovative, engaging, and interaction-based, birth through preschool curriculum. With state and private support, we have piloted this innovative curriculum model in 100 classrooms across the state," she wrote.

Read the complete editorial here.

Visit E3va.org.

Posted on June 13, 2019 .

How Does a Caterpillar Become a Butterfly?

That is the question that we are pondering. Our children are building their science and math skills as they observe caterpillars, think about their needs, read a book about the process and discuss metamorphosis.

The Butterfly Man came for a visit to show us the life cycle of a butterfly. Our preschoolers had a chance to hold a chrysalis, cocoon, butterfly specimens and much, much more!

Posted on May 14, 2019 .

Mindfulness Linked to Children’s Ability to Regulate Feelings & Emotions

Mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings and bodies. Research tells us that yoga practice in early childhood and elementary classrooms teaches children self-awareness, breathing techniques, how to deal with stress and mindfulness.

The most recent research conducted in elementary schools found that students who were part of a 12-week practice 4x a week showed decreases in their negative responses to emotions and stress.

That is exactly why mindfulness and yoga are built into The New E3 School’s program and the STREAMin3 curriculum model. Angela Phillips, of Angela Phillips Yoga works with our teachers and children to help them use these techniques everyday. It fits perfectly with the social-emotional focus of our curriculum. Click this link to check out Angela Phillips in action during The New E3 School’s yoga time!


Through yoga, we are giving children great tools to help them:

  • Manage stress

  • Be happier

  • Calm their bodies

  • Be caring and kind to others

These are skills that will last a lifetime!

Lisa Howard

President & CEO

E3: Elevate Early Education & The New E3 School

Posted on May 8, 2019 .

UVA President Running in Honor of TNE3S's Mrs. Emily


University of Virginia President Jim Ryan is running in honor of educators including The New E3 School’s Mrs. Emily.

Today marks the 121st annual Boston Marathon, and Ryan will be continuing a tradition he started as dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, dedicating his run to beloved educators.

“Running and teaching are two of my biggest passions,” Ryan said. “Running the Boston Marathon in support of teachers has become a personal tradition and I’m honored to be able to bring the tradition to UVA and support the important work of educators.”

Ryan will hit the pavement today with the names of 26 teachers – one for each mile – adorning the back of his T-shirt. Each of the 26 names was submitted by a donor to UVA’s Curry School of Education and Human Development. Along with a donation, donors had the opportunity to name an educator who made a difference in their lives. Ryan will be running mile 3 in honor of The New E3 School’s own Emily Porter.

Posted on April 15, 2019 .

Building Science Skills

Last week, our children in the one-year-old to three-year-old classrooms were busy exploring the effects of salt and food dye on ice. Check out these pictures and videos of STREAMin3 in action. It is such fun to watch and listen to the teachers and children engaged in exploring how things change. Listen carefully to the conversations and questions. Our teachers do an amazing job making sure our children are learning the CORE & STREAM skills, but having a blast while doing it. Learning should be fun, encourage curiosity and help children think about what is happening around them. 

It's Opening Day!

When you play or watch baseball, you are seeing STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math) in action! Both of my boys are baseball fans (one loves the Yankees and the other is a Red Sox’s fan). When I asked my younger son if he wanted to play baseball, he replied, “Do you have any idea how hard it is to hit that ball with a bat?” That was his way of saying no. He is absolutely right about what it takes to move that ball. It takes force and energy to get that ball from the pitcher’s mound to home plate. Think about the science in every pitch. Then there is the engineering of the ball, bat, glove and helmet. And let’s not forget about the math (statistics! statistics! statistics!). Did anyone read the book or see the movie Moneyball? The game of baseball uses a lot of math to figure out batting averages, runs and the speed of every pitch.  

Did You Know? 

·         The baseball team with the most World Series titles is the New York Yankees. It is 27 to be exact.

·         The oldest baseball park still in use is Fenway Park (a must see and so old school).

·         Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and helped his team reach the World Series.

·         The song Take Me Out to the Ball Game is about a girl named Katie Casey who loved baseball. There was a time when you would not have seen a woman at the ballpark. This song that we all love and sing at the seventh inning has a much deeper meaning.  

STREAM activities to do with a child: 

·         Playing catch and throwing a baseball.

·         Measuring how far you throw the baseball and graphing it.

·         Collecting baseball cards (The Dollar Store sells them) and matching them.

·         Making a baseball book.

·         Going on a baseball scavenger hunt.

·         Collecting baseball hats and sorting them by color and logos.

·         Creating a baseball field with art materials.

·         Creating your own ballpark outside using your imagination.

·         Cheering on your favorite team in your jersey and baseball hats (we even dress up our Labs).

·         Reading a book about baseball.

·         Going to see a little league, minor or major league game as a family. Go Tides! Go Flying Squirrels! Go Nationals!

It is like any sport, there are so many lessons to be learned about discipline, hard work, grit, stick-to-itiveness and teamwork. Not to mention, it is so much fun to take in a game with family and friends on a beautiful spring or summer day at the ballpark.

Lisa Howard

President & CEO


March Madness Begins @ TNE3S!  

It all started yesterday with Selection Sunday! That is when we learn who will be invited to compete in the tournament and who are the top seeds. The four number one seeds are Duke, Gonzaga, UNC and UVA.

On Tuesday, The New E3 School is kicking off our second annual March Madness at the Y on Granby with local college basketball players and volunteers to shoot hoops.

Children paint team banners and select their team name today in preparation for March Madness.

During all of this madness, our children will be working on the core skills of regulate, relate and move. Let’s not forget the character building that happens too. Whether you are watching or playing the game, children will learn to:

 ·      Work hard

·       Practice & persist

·       Relate to the feelings of others (win or lose)

·       Play with enthusiasm, energy & zest

·       Work as a team

Fun Activities: 

·       Make a Book Bracket

·       Shoot hoops with different size balls

·       Count how many baskets you make

·       Pass the ball (team-building activity)

·       Move fast and slow up

·       Run up and down the court

·       Make a hoop with mixed media

·       Dribble & shoot drills

There are many teachable moments as you and your family watch and play.  Let your child fill out the bracket or make their own, highlight as teams win and explain how the math works in simple terms. March Madness is a great way to spend time with family and friends cheering on your favorite team. There are many stories of adversity, determination and perseverance that will be told during the games. Talk to your child about what it takes to reach a goal and play the game.

Lisa Howard

President & CEO


Let’s Make March Matter for Children: A Letter from our President & CEO, Lisa Howard

Every fall, too many children in our region and state are struggling as they enter school. Two in five children enter kindergarten ready to fail. Children who start behind, stay behind their peers. Without early intervention, the achievement gap continues to widen.

The evidence is clear­—high quality early education can close the achievement and readiness gaps. That is why E3: Elevate Early Education created The New E3 School, an innovative mixed-income model for children ages one to five in the Park Place neighborhood of Norfolk. The school focuses on the most important elements of high quality that lead to kindergarten readiness.

Over the last two years, our four-year-old children were assessed on their readiness to enter school. Most children met or exceeded kindergarten entry benchmarks in literacy, math, social skills and self-regulation. More importantly, they are developing a curiosity and love of learning that will last a lifetime.

The curriculum model developed in the school by UVA’s Center of Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning is being piloted in 100 classrooms across the state. Our work is advancing early education and impacting many children in Hampton Roads and Virginia.

We believe, as I know you do, every child deserves a high quality education and that begins with early education. Sadly, we turn away children and families every year who need a scholarship for their child to attend our school. There are over 30 low-income children on the waiting list for a scholarship. Will you give to the Scholarship Fund?

If you have not visited The New E3 School, please contact me at lhoward@e3va.org to set up a tour and see the impact our school is having on so many young children. Thank you for your consideration and support.

With gratitude,

Lisa Howard  President & CEO  E3: Elevate Early Education & The New E3 School

Lisa Howard

President & CEO

E3: Elevate Early Education & The New E3 School


Make March Matter for Children: The Case for High-Quality Early Education in Virginia


The Problem

Every year, many children in our region and state enter kindergarten ready to fail. It will be tough for them to catch up without intervention.

In 2018, 42% of kindergarten students in participating school divisions of the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program entered kindergarten not ready in one of the critical learning domains of literacy, math, self-regulation or social skills. 

The Solution

High quality early education can close the achievement and readiness gaps.

The New E3 School is a state-of-the-art school in the Park Place neighborhood of Norfolk for children ages one to five. Our innovative mixed-income model focuses on the ingredients of high quality that lead to kindergarten readiness. The STREAMin3 curriculum developed by UVA’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning (CASTL) includes:

·         Curriculum focused on the five core skills (relate, regulate, think, communicate, and move) and six STREAM skills (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math)

·         Professional development to support teachers’ understanding of child development

·         Coaching to improve teaching and learning in the classroom

·         Assessments of children’s skills and classroom quality

The STREAMin3 model is being piloted in 100 classrooms (private, faith-based, the Virginia Preschool Initiative and Head Start) across the state.

The New E3 School is a demonstration model that proves high quality results in kindergarten readiness. The school is advancing early education and impacting children in the region and across Virginia.

The Results

Four-year-old children from The New E3 School were assessed in 2017 and 2018 on their readiness to enter kindergarten. Most children met or exceeded the kindergarten entry benchmarks for literacy, math, and self-regulation. Some children did not meet the benchmark for social skills.

How You Can Help

Contribute to our scholarship fund! We believe every child deserves a high quality early education. Your gift will provide the opportunity for a low-income child to attend The New E3 School.

$50,000: provides a scholarship for a child to attend the school for five years.

$10,000: provides a scholarship for a child to attend the school for one year.

$2k-$5k: provides a partial scholarship for a child.

$500-$1k: provides financial assistance to a low- or middle-income family.

Mindfulness For All Ages


Our children at The New E3 School begin their day with mindfulness. They learn basic breathing and yoga practices. Why? Mindfulness and yoga helps children to:

 ·        Reduce stress and anxiety (believe me they feel stress too)

·         Form habits of being quiet, peaceful, kind and accepting

·         Regulate feelings and control their bodies

We are so thankful to have Angela Phillips of Angela Phillips Yoga Studio train our teachers and children. They are learning basic breathing and yoga techniques. The teachers and staff had to embrace this practice and model for our children. The best way to do that was to help them see the benefits that mindfulness brings to their classroom everyday. Not only does it help children manage stress, but it helps teachers too.

 What a great way to start and end your day! Try a few breathing techniques and yoga poses before bedtime or naptime. There are some wonderful children’s books that provide illustrations of simple poses for all ages to do. Make it part of your family’s routine.


Lisa Howard

President & CEO

Posted on February 26, 2019 .

Professional Development @ The New E3 School

Our STREAMin3 Curriculum Model developed by UVA’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) includes coaching and professional development for our teachers.

We had a professional development day this week focused on the Core Skill of Communicate. Our team enjoyed a speaker from Brain Balance and team building activities to build a sense of community among staff. Check out the pictures below of our wonderful staff!

Posted on February 19, 2019 .

Governor's Year In Review featuring The New E3 School

Many of you were with us when we launched WE3: Women Elevating Early Education last spring. The First Lady of Virginia, Pamela Northam was with us at The New E3 School to kick off the initiative. 

Governor Northam's Year in Review will be given out this evening after the State of the Commonwealth. An image of the First Lady of Virginia visiting with our children on the nature playground will be featured. Many of you may not know this, she worked side-by-side with our architect, builder and me to create a place that would stimulate a child’s imagination and creativity more than a traditional playground. WE created an open-ended outdoor play area for children to make discoveries, explore and interact with their environment. This approach connects children back to nature and stimulates creativity and imagination. I like to refer to it as our “old school” playground. It reminds me of how I grew up exploring, running, climbing and using my imagination outside.

WE wanted you to be the first to know that our school is featured. WE are excited that the First Lady of Virginia has made expanding access to high quality early education a priority. Our cause could not have a better spokesperson or leader. If you haven’t toured The New E3 School, email me at lhoward@e3va.org and let’s set up a visit. 

With gratitude,


Lisa Howard  
President & CEO
E3: Elevate Early Education & The New E3 School

Posted on January 9, 2019 .

Gingerbread House-Building & Decorating Event: Thank You!

Our Gingerbread House - Building & Decorating event was a hit with the neighborhood & New E3 School children and families.

It was fun to see the excitement that filled our school on Saturday. The adults and children equally enjoyed the holiday activity stations & decorating the gingerbread school modeled after The New E3 School.

Thank you to those of you who gave your time on Saturday as volunteers. And a special thank you to all of our sponsors. The fun-filled day would not have been possible without YOU!


 Merry Christmas & Holiday Cheer to All! We look forward to seeing you in 2019.

 With gratitude,

Lisa Howard

President & CEO

E3: Elevate Early Education & The New E3 School



Posted on December 20, 2018 .

Holiday Traditions

We have many family traditions, but a few of my boy’s favorites are seeing what the elf left in the Advent calendar (not so much anymore), building a Lego Christmas village, building & decorating gingerbread houses and making (and mostly eating) homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas Day. Every year since my two boys were young the activity that seemed to grow in popularity was building and decorating gingerbread houses. Over the years, we invited friends, family and neighbors to join us in the festivities. As the boys grew older, we started having a competition to see who could make the best one.

This year I asked my youngest son, Liam what he thought we should do for our annual event. He replied, “ I want to build the biggest gingerbread house ever!”  I think those holiday reality baking shows are influencing him. A few minutes later he was texting a dear friend and almost-like –a –grandmother his idea. It wasn’t long before it became a BIG idea and a BIG event. And, that is how the gingerbread house-building idea was born.

Then we all starting talking and thinking about how we could make this an event for our children and families at The New E3 School, the neighborhood of Park Place and ALL children in the community. As the plans evolved, we realized that we were going to need an architect and builder. T + M Architects and Hourigan Construction stepped up to help us make this plan come to life.

My two boys, Zack and Liam, Caroline McCartney, John Tymoff with Tymoff Moss Architects and I had an official meeting to brainstorm ideas and determine next steps. That is when it was decided that we should design and build a gingerbread house modeled after our school. The children and families of The New E3 School became involved in the planning too. We made a list of all the supplies we would need from plywood to graham crackers and candy. Then we came up with a plan on how to raise the money to make sure that ALL children and families could participate.

Now, we are asking YOU to help us create a New E3 School family tradition. Will you?

E3-FBCover-GingerbreadBuilding (002).jpg

We hope to see you @ The New E3 School on December 15th!!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all!

Lisa Howard  President & CEO, E3: Elevate Early Education & The New E3 School

Lisa Howard

President & CEO, E3: Elevate Early Education & The New E3 School