Montclair’s Park Street Academy Celebrates Community Helpers

Montclair’s Park Street Academy celebrated “Community Helpers” in October by teaching children about the world around them through a variety of special guests and programming.

Beginning with a visit from Officer Batelli of the Bloomfield Police Department, children learned about the various ways that police officers help the community in daily life. Officer Batelli, also a PSA parent, spoke about his job as a police officer, how his job is to help keep people safe, and what to do if you’re lost or need help: always look for a police officer in uniform!


Safety is important, so a week later the firefighters from the Montclair Fire Department held an outdoor presentation for PSA students. They explored a fire truck, learned about the equipment and how it is used, and discussed what firefighters do in the event of a fire. Firefighters also shared safety information, including fire prevention tips, “stop, drop and roll” and how to call for help in the event of an emergency.

Learning about where food comes from is a great concept to talk about with children, especially because the produce that we eat starts its life somewhere besides on the store shelves. Gray Russell, Coordinator of Environmental Affairs in Montclair came to talk about the Walnut Street Farmers’ Market, held every Saturday from Spring through Fall. He talked about the farmers and how they bring fresh produce, meat, fish, and many specialty items like cider, cheese, jam and baked goods to the market for the community to buy. PSA students enjoyed a slideshow with pictures of different vendors and beautiful produce that was recently harvested. Most importantly, kids learned how important farmers are to communities – and to getting their food on the table.


PSA also welcomed the Montclair Ambulance Unit, allowing students to examine an ambulances first-hand and learned how to recognize a medical emergency at home and dial 911 if there is no adult present or able to call for help. This month students delighted in a presentation from Ron Locascio, a volunteer at PAWS (Pound Animal Welfare Society of Montclair, Inc.), an animal rescue and shelter organization dedicated to the humane treatment of animals. PAWS facilitates pet adoption by loving families for stray and abandoned cats and dogs in our community. Ron brought in two kittens that are presently waiting to be adopted. The children had a chance to see the kittens close-up and hear about how they and their mother were rescued.


“It’s so important to teach children from a very young age that they are part of the larger community,” explains Lisa Raphael, director of Park Street Academy. “PSA students are eager to learn about how these visitors fit into their world. By listening and asking questions, students begin to open their eyes to what’s around them and ultimately become better citizens.”

PSA rounded out the month with a presentation from The Seeing Eye to teach the children about their mission is to enhance the independence, dignity and self-confidence of people who are blind, through the use of specially trained Seeing Eye® dogs. To do this, they brought in a trained dog for the children to meet and learn more about how animals can help out those with disabilities. Finally, PSA welcomed UPS driver Mike Santana who had the kids captivated with his talk about how packages are shipped around the country and the world.

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