LIVINGSTON, NJ — While Livingston Public Schools (LPS) students are off for spring break, but still homebound due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Livingston Education! Facebook group is hosting a series of free family-friendly educational programs that are being hosted by local vendors on a variety of topics and live-streamed throughout the week.

Having run the Livingston Education! group for several years and also serving as the co-chair for the Livingston Vision 20/20 education sub-committee, Livingston resident Mike Ramer has gotten to know many local vendors in the educational space. 

Keeping in mind how those vendors’ content would engage both children and parents during a time when it’s most needed, Ramer reached out and found that several of them were optimistic about his idea to present live programs during spring break.

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“The idea for ‘Spring Break – Live!’ occurred to me when I thought, ‘What were kids going to do when they are off from school during the Livingston Public Schools’ spring break?’” said Ramer. “They are homebound due to the coronavirus crisis, so how will they be occupying their time? With remote learning in full swing, I thought live educational programs that were interactive and fun would provide learning experiences while helping to occupy kids time and engage them during the days.”

Ramer said he was looking for “a mix of current topics that would appeal to different ages,” and filled all program times in one day after posting the idea online. Now halfway through the week, feedback from community members has been overall positive.

Resident Sakshi Agarwal reported that the “Spring Break – Live!” programs have been “so thoughtful” and a “big help for working parents, as the kids stay engaged.” Fellow resident Dee Dee Pulver, a member of the Livingston Education! group, thanked all of those involved in the organization of the series, stating that Livingston’s residents “are so very fortunate to live in this community.” 

“It has gone great so far," said Ramer. "The presenters are enthusiastic, and the community has been highly engaged in the programs. Viewership and interaction on the site is up. Members are very appreciative of the vendors’ sharing their tips and knowledge, and the vendors appreciate the opportunity to present to their target audience.”

According to Ramer, the community benefits from tuning into these programs in a number of ways, including the following:

  • “Students continue remote learning - now that they are in the groove - on interesting topics, like choosing electives in school.”
  • “It helps parents, who are working from home, give their kids ways to occupy their time and engage with other community members safely.”
  • “The live programs enable viewers to ask questions to the presenters in real time, which is exciting.”
  • “Vendors in the educational space have the opportunity to describe their service and share their knowledge with engaged children and adults.”
  • “The programs bring children, families, and the community together to watch the programs with their neighbors.”

Earlier this week, viewers heard from Rina Daya Surti from Livingston’s Montessori Children House, who presented art activities for young children; Melanie Talesnick from Admit U College Planning, who spoke about test prep and the college application process; Dani Slavitt Greenwald from the Coder School of Short Hills, who spoke to parents about how to make the most of their kids’ time with technology; and “Mr. Mike” from the West Essex YMCA, who presented a family fitness program.

Still to come are the following programs:

Wednesday, April 8 @ 10 a.m. — Master Chef Junior finalist Matthew Smith, a fourth grader at Harrison Elementary School, presents live breakfast demo

Wednesday, April 8 @ 2 p.m. — Shilpa Bekal of Code Livingston presents introduction to “block coding” for kids and parents

Thursday, April 9 @ 10 a.m. — Sofia Avalos from Cookieology shares tips on how to decorate cookies

Thursday, April 9 @ 2 p.m. — Beth Hendler Grunt from Next Great Step speaks about the job search college students and graduates face today

Friday, April 10 @ 9:30 a.m. — Robert Stern of The Social Leader shares how to create great content and engage clients through social media

Saturday, April 11 @ 10 a.m. — Kim Krentcil presents fun physical fitness for children and tweens

All programs are free to Livingston Education! members. CLICK HERE to visit the Facebook page.