Friday, December 15, 2000

Extra time, extra caring

Kids, parents, school to miss upbeat leader

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MARIEMONT — Bea Seebohm's resignation as Mariemont Extended Time (E.T.) director created so much angst among Mariemont School Board members that they wondered if they could turn it down.

        The popular 71-year-old woman doesn't want to retire, but recent open heart surgery and a doctor have dictated that it's time. She needs to get her blood pressure down and keep it down.

[photo] Bea Seebohm, director of the Extended Time program at Mariemont Elementary School, helps Cameron England, 5, with a reindeer ornament.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        That's hard to do when she's responsible for a latchkey program serving 110 K-6 children this year.

        “I wake up the middle of the night and think, "Oooh, that's a good idea.' I don't want to disturb my husband, so I go downstairs and write it down or gather things for crafts.”

        She never works 40 hours a week. She works more.

        In the last couple of weeks, she wrote the E.T. newsletter on her home computer one night. She bought a Harry Potter game for E.T. and spent part of a weekend figuring out the rules.

        Since kindergarten is a half-day program at Mariemont, E.T. has kindergartners all day, allowing them time to take two field trips a month. Among the highlights were fishing trips to Lake Isabella, where she took care of the icky part, baiting their hooks with meal worms.

        “We always catch blue gills because you just do,” Mrs. Seebohm said. “We do the catch and release. They think that's wonderful that they can catch a fish.”

        Mrs. Seebohm has worked 29 years for the district, first as a teachers' aide and then as E.T. director. She helped start the program in 1983, when only a handful of students stayed after school. Now, it's open from 7 a.m.-6:20 p.m. daily when school is in session.

        It's estimated that as many as 15 million elementary and middle school children are left unsupervised during non-school hours, increasing demand for before- and after-school care.

        As Out of School Time Specialist with Comprehensive Community Child Care (4C), Chris Schmidt works to improve the quality of after-school programs. She knows programs like E.T. don't just happen without a catalyst like Mrs. Seebohm.

        “She's willing to look at her program and make changes,” said Mrs. Schmidt, who is also president of the Ohio Professionals For School-Age Care. “Bea is always thinking about what's best for the kids.”

        As E.T. director, Mrs. Seebohm manages nine employees, most of whom have worked there at least eight years — almost unheard of in the child care field, Mrs. Schmidt said.

        “She works very hard,” said Yvonne Brunn, an E.T. aide since 1992. “I think what motivates her is her genuine love for children. She always has a twinkle in her eye when she talks about children.”

        Parents, too, praise Mrs. Seebohm.

        “She's like everybody's grandmother,” said Anne Schneider, a Mariemont woman whose three children attended E.T. “She cares. She takes an interest in every kid. She knows every single child who has gone through the doors of Extended Time.”

        Stephanie Lind's 8-year-old daughter currently attends E.T.

        “She's the most upbeat person you can imagine,” the Mariemont woman said of Mrs. Seebohm. “You go in there, and she always puts you in a good mood.”

        When she retires Dec. 20, she'll spend more time with husband, Walt, three sons and 10 grandchildren. But she still plans to help E.T. pursue national accreditation by taking classes next year.

       An open house party for Bea Seebohm will be held from 10 a.m.-6:20 p.m. today at Mariemont's Extended Time, 6750 Wooster Pike.

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