You have to register on our Auctria website even if you participated last year
 Get timely updates and be ready to bid on: 
  • Much-needed get-aways,
  • Lovingly formulated experiences from our brilliant staff,
  • Curated culinary adventures and fun activities to add excitement to life at home,
  • Expert services from our talented SMCNS community,
  • And deals! 
Also, order dinner for the night of Live Auction. The food is going to be incredible, and we will deliver it to you! Check out our menu here:
  • Director's Message
  • President's Message
  • Update: Hiring Committee for Director of Education
  • Scrip News!
  • Parent Education Workshop: "Grief and Gratitude During COVID: Processing Loss, Finding Silver Linings"
  • Fundraisers
  • Kindergarten Rec Forms
  • Halloween Hunt Thank You
  • Meet Your Board
  • Mac the Bunny
  • SMCNS Calendar

Though fall might officially begin in September, in Southern California we usually experience our first fall weather in November. I adore this time of year… the drop in temperature, the changes in the trees, and the approaching holiday season all fill me with joyful expectation. This year is different in every way… and my mood feels more like trepidation. What will the cold & flu season look like on top of an already brutal pandemic? Will I get to spend time with extended family? Will I be putting them at risk? How will we honor our family traditions if we can’t be together? Things may look different this year and that is okay. Maybe this is the year to explore some new adventure and go skiing with immediate family rather than hosting a large holiday party. And, when I begin to think in this way, the possibilities are endless.

As cold and flu season is upon us, we are seeing symptoms in children that would normally be of no concern--a mild runny nose, a small cough, etc., but this season everyone is on high alert and understandably so. In respecting each other’s health and well-being, it is helpful if everyone responds to even mild symptoms with an abundance of caution. Many parents have taken this ‘better safe than sorry’ approach to heart and have been in touch with their child’s pediatrician, kept their child home, or had their child tested when mild symptoms were present--thank you for respecting the health of all the children, the teachers, and each other. If you need help with resources or guidance, please reach out to me. If I don’t have the answers, then I can put you in touch with someone that will. 

A huge thank you is due our Membership Committee for reinventing our traditional Halloween Party and creating the perfectly-preschool-age-appropriate trick or treat walkthrough. It was such a joy to see all the children dressed up and looking so happy, expressing such pride as they described their costumes. Speaking of costumes, I am looking forward to our upcoming Pajama Pants Gala and plan to watch the live event with my own small cohort in full pajama glam!  The entire board is working hard to create meaningful events for all of us and keep things running smoothly on all fronts and I am grateful for their extraordinary efforts. 

In order to comply with current guidelines, the number of families at our school is significantly lower than most years. Reduced enrollment has an enormous impact on all that we do in the way of fundraising, staffing various events, and maintaining the school. It is so important that everyone is doing their part and I am so appreciative of the many contributions from parents, teachers, and board members. There will continue to be many opportunities to support our school through various fundraising events, including our Annual Auction with Fund-A-Need proceeds going directly to the classrooms and our Annual Fund campaign which supports operational expenses and site projects. Please encourage friends and family members to support SMCNS in any way that they are able--attend a restaurant night, purchase See’s candy in December, register and bid at our auction, or join us at a maintenance work day! Collectively, our efforts will ensure that our school will endure in challenging times and continue to grow and thrive.



With fall in full swing and some of our school traditions now behind us, I wanted to take a moment to thank our amazing Membership Committee for a successful start to the school year! Emily Hilgenberg, Rosi Koeper, and Kenny Totrakarn are the people who have spearheaded the welcoming Coffee in the Park events, decorating our school with your festive pumpkins and our Halloween party! Thank you so much, Membership Committee, for all of your hard work and your dedication to giving our children and families such warm memories of this school year! You can read more about this awesome team in this month’s “Meet the Board” section below.
In other exciting news: it has become clear to your board that our school would benefit from having two directors: a Director of Operations and a Director of Education. Our very own Thais Anderson has shown herself to be a capable and devoted employee over the past several years of transitions in our community, and will be promoted as Director of Operations. As for our Director of Education, a hiring committee has been formed and has begun the process of searching for someone to fill this role.  Please know that this decision was not made lightly, and it has taken years of deep thought and consideration for the board to come to this decision as we believe this change will be best for SMCNS moving forward. 
I would be remiss to not mention one of our school’s most important and exciting fundraisers coming up this month-- our annual auction! In normal times, auction is one of my favorite nights each year. It is a fun opportunity to kick back and make memories while supporting our amazing community. Even though things will look differently this year, I know our Auction Committee is hard at work to make it one that we'll never forget! 
As always, never hesitate to reach out if you would like to talk. 
Kelly Christ
Update: Hiring Committee for Director of Education

A Hiring Committee has formed to search for the Director of Education position. The committee consists of two staff representatives, The Board President and Personnel chair, one additional Board representative and one member-at-large.

Since forming, the committee has formed a timeline for hiring and written a job description for the new Director of Education position. To summarize, the Director of Education will be in charge of classroom curriculum, staff and parent education, staff hiring, NAEYC accreditation, enrollment and placement, among other tasks.

The job will be posted as of November 1st, across various early education sites, such as NAEYC and CAEYC job sites.

If anyone from General Membership or our Alum families has any questions or comments about the process or ideas of other places to post or potential candidates, please email the hiring committee at


The Scrip program is gearing up for the holidays with lots of low-value card offerings. For a limited time, $5 and $10 gift cards are available from retailers such as Starbucks, Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble, Panera, Chipotle, Bath and Body Works and many more. These cards make great stocking stuffers! Most low-value cards will only be sold through mid-December so don’t wait! The entire list of $5 and $10 cards can be found here
Don’t toss that gift card—Reload it! When you use the Reload option on, you can add funds to existing gift cards purchased through the program instead of waiting for a new card. You’ll earn the same rebate you normally would for that brand, plus you get to choose the denomination!
For select brands, the Reload option will be listed as ReloadNow. This means that your funds will be available to use instantly when you pay with PrestoPay.
Follow these simple steps: 

  1. Log on to your ShopWithScrip account and select the brand of the card you wish to Reload.
  2. The first time you Reload a card, register it by entering the card number.
  3. Name your card for future Reload orders. You will be able to select your card by name from a dropdown menu the next time you Reload.
  4. Choose any denomination you would like between the listed minimum and maximum.
  5. Pay with PrestoPay to have funds added to the card overnight. If you pay by check, your funds will be available the morning after your check is received and I release your order.
  6. Redeem your gift card and continue to reload funds as needed!

Scrip buyout reminder: Families that don't register for a Shop With Scrip account by Nov. 15 will notice the Scrip buyout ($150.00) on their December statement. Please coordinate with Mary Moore ( if you missed the initial registration period and are still interested in participating in the program. Participating families will receive a Scrip rebate status email in February and will be billed final buyout fines in early May.
Mary Moore

"Grief and Gratitude During COVID: Processing Loss, Finding Silver Linings"
Thursday, November 17th, 7:30PM
Farm Fresh to You: Who doesn't like fresh produce delivered right to your door? Use SMCNS in the promo code and support our school!

Not sure what to give grandparents, teachers, tweens, teens, co-workers, friends, children, anyone?  
Can't go wrong with some See's Candy! 
Fill out your order form and turn it in with your money by December 4, get your CANDY by winter break!!!   
Do you need a kindergarten recommendation form to be filled out by your child’s teacher?

If so, here are the steps you need to take to expedite the process:
  • Please give all the recommendation forms to the teacher at the same time. They should be in a file folder or large envelope.
  • You need to fill out the top portion of the form with your child’s name and any other pertinent information asked for in the upper section. The top section will need your signature before you give it to the teacher to complete.
  • Provide a stamped envelope for each school with the intended school’s address on each one. The return address should be: SMCNS, 701 E. Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, CA 91024-- not your home address.
Please give the teachers at least 2 weeks to fill out the recommendation forms. You should know the deadline for each school and plan accordingly.

We strongly advise all parents to visit the schools they are applying to, so that teachers are only filling out forms for schools that are a good fit for the family. If you have questions about how well your child might suit a particular school you are considering, asking your current teacher for input may be helpful in your process.

Keep in mind that teachers will not begin working on forms until January so they have the maximum amount of time to get to know more about your child before completing the forms.

The recommendation process requires not just time but also considerable thought as teachers attempt to create an understanding of the child on paper for the evaluators.
Thank you to the Membership Committee for a truly unforgettable Halloween Hunt and to the staff and family members that manned the event!  Things sure looked different this year, but the new set up made for an incredibly magical evening that our children and families could safely enjoy.  THANK YOU!
This month, meet our Membership Committee. They are responsible for so much of the fun, non-fundraising events at our school. They plan, host, and clean up after our Coffees in the Park, Orientation, Halloween Party, Annual Membership Dinner, and the end-of-year Picnics in the Park. They also coordinate the Group Parents program and school directory.

Hi! My name is Rosi and I’m part of the Membership Committee. This is my family’s third year at SMCNS. My oldest daughter, Ella, is currently attending group 3 and my youngest, Ruby, is in group 1. We love to hike, travel and go running together. Chances are you’ve seen us on one of our many adventures around town!

If you attended this year’s Halloween party you got a small taste of what the membership team does! We’re trying to make each and every non-fundraising holiday and event as magical as it was last year, while still staying safe and sticking to healthy guidelines. Even though this school year looks a little bit different, it’s my goal to help everyone feel connected-- students, parents, teachers, and staff. Keep an eye out for future events!

Hi! My name is Kenny Totrakarn, one of Holden's two dads.  My husband is Miles and our son is in Group 2, enjoying his second year at SMCNS.  We love being a part of the SMCNS community. COVID makes it a bit more difficult for connecting with each other, so please let the membership committee know if there are any ideas or things you would like to see or help with this year! Outside of school, I work on the Fox Studio Lot in Century City in Operational Resilience - think security planning for all things 2020 (fires, pandemics, sports season cancellations, etc). I hope to meet you all soon!

Hi SMCNS! My name is Emily Hilgenberg and I am a part of your membership committee. My son, Parker, started in Group I last year, but as all of you also experienced, his year was halted to a stop in the spring. We are so happy to be back this year in Group II and although things are different, it feels so good to be in a routine again. I am a makeup artist by trade, but mostly a mom to Parker and his younger sister Lola, who is 21 months. I never would have guessed that my first year serving on the board in a position that is supposed to bring the membership at large together, would be the year that not being together is encouraged.  It is important to me that we find ways to be together as a community safely and I am excited to plan many more opportunities to do so! 
Thank you to so many of you who came to our Halloween event. It was so important to us to be able to give the children a bit of normalcy in such an odd time in our lives. I look forward to seeing you all (safely!) in person in the coming year! 


Mac is back at school and he would be ever so grateful for any veggie scraps you could spare. Bring in your leftover dark leafy greens like bok choy, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, carrot tops, watercress, broccoli greens, and cilantro to help keep our school bunny happy and healthy.

SMCNS maintains a Google Calendar that you can add into your own personal calendar using the following links:
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