Staff Spotlight: Belinda, Education Program Manager

It’s time again to meet another wonderful Zimmer staff member. Say hello to BELINDA, our Education Program Manager!

Name: Belinda Vong
Position: Education Program Manager
A little bit about her: Belinda is an artist and educator.  She received a BA in Sociology and a BA in Studio Art from the University of California, Irvine, and continues to study Early Childhood Education at East Los Angeles Community College.  Previously she has worked as a Program Coordinator at the UCI Cross-Cultural Center, and as an after-school teacher in the Mountain View School District working with students from Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Her involvement at the UCI Cross-Cultural Center and experience in working with children in underserved communities continues to fuel her passion for creating access for young children to learn about the world around them through creative and interactive play.  When at the museum, you can find her twisting up some quirky balloon animals or guiding your next school field trip!
Childhood heroes: Sailor Moon and Martha Stewart

Take me through a day in the life of Belinda at the Zimmer.
Usually I step into the museum and head down to the lower level towards the galley to drop my lunch off in the fridge.  This is when I like to take my rounds on the lower level, walking through each exhibit making sure that each space is ready to be played in.  I usually get a few minutes to myself at my desk to check my e-mails and voicemails, and to prepare for the day.  Then 10 o’clock hits, our doors open to the general public, and the kids start crawling in!

Throughout the day, I can be doing anything from welcoming a bus load of eager preschoolers for their annual field trip to the Zimmer or preparing our art room or program room for a class. I also try to squeeze in some time at my desk to do some office work and to brainstorm new program ideas! Though our weekly programs are always the same, and field trips are typically scheduled to come only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, each day is never the same… which makes it that much more exciting to come to work each day!

What’s your favorite exhibit at the Zimmer?
It’s hard to decide on any one favorite exhibit!  I definitely appreciate the overall connectedness of our exhibits and the many ways to explore and learn from each of them. For instance, the simple act of being able to plant soft and bright flowers into our recycled garden hoe holders is a neat way to illustrate not only how we can recycle materials, but also how we can help to take care of our planet – by planting flowers!  The little ones can also practice numbers by counting the flowers, or sorting by grouping the different colors of the petals… and these are just a few activities of one part of one exhibit! Imagine the many experiences the little ones can have throughout the entire museum!

What is the most memorable thing you have been involved in here?
The greatest part about working in a space with children, is that each day is definitely not like any other day, and each day is always filled with memorable moments.

Off the top of my head, one of the first memorable moments I’ve had was on my 3rd day on the job.  The other staff and I noticed a piece of brownie on the ground by the Mann Theater.  It definitely was a brownie… or was it?  It wasn’t too dry, nor too moist, but a very nice and solid chunk of something brown.  We circled it, bent down to smell it…  sure enough, it was definitely a ‘code brown.’  One of our brave part-time staff slapped on some gloves, scooped it up, and vindicated (our cleaning solution) it!

Of course, since then, I’ve had many more equally memorable experiences. A few of my other favorites have been CAMP Zimmer, Sunday Family Day programs with Love on 4 Paws, Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips, and Wishes for Our World. AND, I’m excited for more memorable moments to come!

Thanks, Belinda! Check back next month to meet another member of the Zimmer team!

NEW FEATURE: Staff Spotlight!

There are so many fabulous people who work at the Zimmer, and it’s about time you meet some of them! Once a month, we’ll be featuring one staff member and the exciting things she/he is doing here. For the first Staff Spotlight, we introduce you to… JESSICA!

Name: Jessica Sachs
Position: Community Relations Manager
A little bit about her:  Jessica recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Community Studies. With a degree in Community and having worked with children for the majority of her life, as both a camp counselor and babysitter, she was bound for the Zimmer Children’s Museum! Jessica loves heading out into the community with museum activities and information, so look for her at the next big children’s event or festival!
Childhood hero: Harry Potter

Take me through a day in the life of Jessica at the Zimmer.
For me, every day at the Zimmer is a new experience with new guests and new opportunities to learn. I like to spend as much time as I can inside the Museum, floating around and talking to guests about their visit and figuring out what I can do to ensure every child gets a fun, educational, and exciting day at the Zimmer. Unlike most adults I know in the working world, a big part of my job is to PLAY… which is totally awesome!! I love playing peek-a-boo with the VIBs (Very Important Babies), ordering whatever the “Chef’s Special” is at the Blue Bagel Café, and dancing up a storm during our Friday Freeze Dance Party! At the Zimmer, I wear a lot of hats (figuratively speaking) so when I’m not out on the floor, you can also find me typing away at my computer in the front office working on cross-promotional and partnership opportunities, making announcements over the intercom, on the phone booking birthday parties, coordinating volunteers, or out in the community at festivals and special events.

What’s your favorite exhibit at the Zimmer?
My favorite exhibit is the Wishing Wall. Not only is it a beautiful way to teach children and parents about far away places like Jerusalem, but it also teaches them about the global concept of Peace. While people leave their wishes for the world here at our replica of the Western Wall at the Zimmer, people from all over the world visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem to do the same. Whenever I stand at the Wishing Wall I feel a sense of unity, like there is a bond between all those who visit the wall at the Zimmer and all those who visit the wall in Jerusalem-that bond being our wishes for a peaceful and just world. When you look at the wall and the individually folded papers filling each crack of the wall with wishes, you cannot help but feel that each paper wish is filling in each crack in the foundation of the building blocks towards peace. Standing at the Wishing Wall I get the feeling that peace is possible. I hope the children (and adults!) who visit this exhibit remember their wishes and let that feeling of peace take hold so that it never fades.

What is the most memorable thing you have been involved in here?
The most memorable thing, in the year that I’ve been working at the Zimmer, are the long days and late nights working on the Grand Opening of the S. Mark Taper Aid and Rescue Center! Of course, because it wasn’t already crazy enough, I came down with a full-fledge case of strep throat right in the middle of the chaos. But, in the end, all of the hard work and effort was totally worth it because the new exhibit is a hit! This time period was very exciting for me because I got to witness first hand how the museum changes and evolves, and I cannot wait to see what else is in store! It is such a wonderful time to be a part of the Zimmer and I am beyond thrilled to be on board!

Thanks, Jessica! Check back next month to meet another member of the Zimmer team!