Community Building

  Danielle Ballard

Danielle Ballard

Danielle Ballard

How did you join the board/become a pod captain?

With a background in nutrition and public health and a love for children and food , I had wanted to be the curriculum Pod captain since our family joined Cottage in 2012 and expressed my desire to do so each and every year. The position was filled for our first 3 years, so when it became available the VP reached out to me to see if I was still interested and, of course, I was and jumped at the chance! I was so excited that my patience paid off and to be doing something for the school that really spoke to my interests and that I could give to the school in such a meaningful way.

Briefly describe what your main responsibilities are as a pod captain.

Lots! The one that most people know of is that I create the snack menu each month. I try to think of snacks for the kids that are healthy, balanced, and expose them to new things regularly...even if they don’t seem to be a natural “kid” food! Did you know that research shows you should expose a child to a food at least 20 times before giving up on it as something that they don’t like? Yep...that’s why I will put foods back on the menu even if kids were super receptive to them the first time around...and balance them with things we know they like (cheese and crackers, anyone?!?). In addition to the snack menu, I manage communications between the director/board/room reps, answer questions from the community, oversee room reps and help them, as needed, with their responsibilities, encourage room reps to reach out and build community in their classrooms, and work with people throughout the school on ways to promote learning and development  through food (cooking days). My job is greatly focused on communicating with community members...and its great!

What has been most surprising thing you've learned as a co-op member/pod captain/board member?

You are a part of a whole organization and you literally are the reason it functions...it’s a big, but empowering, responsibility! It feels wonderful to be part of something bigger than myself and to know that my contribution is needed and valued. I love being a part of a school with values close to my own and surrounded by like-minded parents who feel a similar desire to contribute to their children’s education in a formal and meaningful way. And...it’s a ton of work!!! It’s like having another job, only instead of being compensated with money, you’re compensated intrinsically...it’s good for the soul. 

Is there anything you feel especially proud of accomplishing in your position?

I love when I get feedback from parents about the snack menu that their kids end up loving things they’d never have thought to try on their own! I also feel especially proud of the time I’ve dedicated to the Future Planning Committee to help shape the future of the school to keep it a healthy, stable, child-led place of learning that is full of teachers and  families who are their for the single purpose of creating kind, emotionally strong, independent thinkers who will go on to make our world a better place.