Dec 31, 2012
Marni Thompson-Tilove

“Parents aren’t as cute as their children…" Reflections on a Site Visit

At the Carole Zaber Nursery School at The JCC in Manhattan.

…but they’re still worth committing the time and energy to”, encourages Ilana Ruskay-Kidd, the Early Childhood Director of The Manhattan JCC’s preschool on the UWS.  In a room full of 25 early childhood educators Ilana and her staff talked about the importance and value of investing in families in a way similar to how they invest in their children.  She was inspiring.

On the heels of a very difficult and tragic weekend, Ilana reinvigorated our educators with words of hope and inspiration as she explained their preschool’s vision of powerful and meaningful family engagement.  It was, by no means, an easy feat to bring the parent body to the place they are today, with the strong and healthy two-way connection between staff and parents.  Ilana shared details of the long journey she and her staff have been on to transform the preschool into a Reggio Emilia inspired Jewish preschool, which places a high value on working closely with the parents, and being intentional and deliberate in all interactions with children and their families.  Although Ilana talked about how far they have come, she emphasized that their journey is far from over.  Her message to educators was clear:  don’t give up. 

"Take tiny baby steps to get to where you want your school to be.  Lots of little changes over time add up to big changes, and can have an huge impact on your school and community. 

But you, the educator, have to be the change agent.  You have to fight for what you believe in, one step at a time.  There will always be obstacles to having the type of school you envision, but if you start from a place of “I can,” instead of “I can’t,” you will find that you have the power and tenacity to get your vision in place.

Marni Thompson-Tilove was a Project Manager at The Jewish Education Project and is now a Social Worker/Service Coordinator for Seven Hills Rhode Island Early Intervention.

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This network will help family engagement educators develop best practices, be reflective about their work, and refine their skills and abilities to engage families with young children in more creative and successful ways. You will have the opportunity to learn from (and with) your colleagues doing similar work as we explore new topics such as the power of family stories, strategies for involving grandparents, and using materials and the environment more creatively to enhance engagement.    Each session will begin with a short text study and include time for hot topics, our area of focus, sharing progress towards personal goals, and reflection. This network will meet four times during the 2019-2020 year in person, with the option to participate virtually when needed. Network participants will also be invited to a professional development day hosted jointly by The Jewish Education Project and PJ Library in NY. Date TBA.
Sasha Kopp
This continuing network will allow for Directors and Associate Directors in Jewish Early Childhood settings in Manhattan to share and develop best practices in the field of Jewish Early Childhood education. There will be a focus on topics that are timely and relevant to directors. You will help craft meeting agendas, with a focus on incorporating and supporting constructivist and child-centered Jewish learning.