The Barat Center welcomes Upper School Helping Hands


Zara Black '23

The Barat Helpers volunteer at the Barat Center and help the students with activities and games.

The Upper School introduced a new program known as the Barat Center Helpers this year.  In this program, Upper School volunteers assist the Barat Center students once a week with drawing, reading, and writing.  Mrs. Frederica McGannon, Preschool Director at the Barat Center, is looking to expand Upper School involvement with activities in the Barat Center.  The Barat Helpers have brought a sense of enthusiasm and patience that impacts the youngest members of the Sacred Heart Greenwich community.

Hayden shows off his wreath after working with a Barat Helper on an activity.  Zara Black ’23

Mrs. McGannon aspires to bring new ideas to the curriculum at the Barat Center, including the Reggio Emilia philosophy.  The Reggio Emilia philosophy encourages educators to view young children as individuals who are curious about their world and have the potential to learn from all that surrounds them.  Reggio teachers employ strategies that expose children to a wide variety of educational opportunities that encourage self-expression, communication, logical thinking, and problem-solving, according to

Mrs. McGannon described the ways that she utilizes this philosophy in her teaching at the Barat Center.  She discovered that the students were most interested in frogs and decided to work the topic into her lesson plan.

“Right now they are interested in frogs so we are talking a lot about frogs and drawing frogs, and that is kind of how we do it,” Mrs. McGannon said. 

A conversation with Mrs. Margaret Frazier, Head of School and Head of Upper School, sparked the initial idea of creating new opportunities to strengthen connections within the different divisions.  Mrs. McGannon enjoys the weekly Barat Helpers and describes their visits as a highlight for Barat Center students.

I love having something that is on the calendar every week and I think it is definitely one of, if not the biggest, highlights for the kids here.  They always want to know when the big girls are coming,” Mrs. McGannon said. 

Sophomore Samantha Mecane ’24 helps Alina with a craft while volunteering at the Barat Center.  Zara Black ’23

Every week, the Barat Helpers bring contagious energy that keeps the children enthusiastic about the continuation of the program.  Mrs. McGannon reflected on the kindness and patience of Upper School volunteers.

“They are really enthusiastic and patient and they really know how to work with the children,” Mrs. McGannon said. “Even some of the children who we have that are shy, they manage to pull them out of their shell, so even those kids are excited to have the big girls come in.”

Sophomore Guinevere Whiteley volunteers consistently as a Barat Helper and enjoys the time she spends with the students as well as her influence on the community.

“I think it is a good chance to be a role model to the kids and be an older figure in their life who can help them with learning and having fun,” Guinevere said. “I think volunteering at the Barat Center builds our community and allows us to grow and realize who we can help and impact around us at Sacred Heart.”

The Barat Helpers are one example of the greater movement to build community at Sacred Heart and develop long-lasting cross-divisional connections.

“I am obviously happy to be here at Sacred Heart and be part of this community,” Mrs. McGannon said. “I am happy that we are far enough into the other side of COVID-19 that we are able to be together.  I think it is so nice to be able to take advantage of everything that is here and all the wonderful people.”

Featured Image by Zara Black ’23