Professional & Leadership Development for Early Childhood and Family Engagement Professionals

We are committed to developing the human resources needed to lead excellent early childhood centers and family engagement experiences now and in the future. Through collegial conversations in peer support networks, conferences, and intensive projects such as Project LEAD (see below), leaders are given support and encouraged to take on the challenge to lead change and experiment with innovative approaches. Our early childhood professional development opportunities are always built on Jewish values and aligned to best practices of relationship building, constructivist learning, and modeling experiential, innovative approaches. They reflect the best and newest educational ideas and resources from all educational fields both secular and Jewish.  

Networks | Project Lead | Conferences | School Visits


The Early Childhood and Family Engagement staff offers opportunities for both early childhood professionals and family engagement practitioners to meet others in their field, strengthen relationships and help spread amazing ideas and innovative practices in the Jewish community. Some networks take place regionally and in-person, while others take place online thereby bringing educators together across regions. Enrollment for the year begins in late Summer and continues through until the first meeting in September or October, however some of our networks offer continuous enrollment. Click to see the Early Childhood and Family Engagement networks available to you. If you have any questions about these networks, please contact Helena Raffel,

To learn more about The Jewish Education Project's approach to Networking and our full catalog of networks you can join click on the Networks tab in the main menu above.

Directors Round Tables
Regional network meetings for Directors and Assistant Directors in Jewish Early Childhood settings take place monthly for educators from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Westchester. Networks are specialized into Yeshiva Day Schools and Congregational Early Childhood settings. Educators share and develop best practices in incorporating and supporting constructivist and child-centered Jewish learning as well as address topics that are timely and relevant.

Long Island Bridge Network
The Bridge Network provides an opportunity for teams of colleagues to create and implement action plans that build or deepen a culture of continuous engagement in their institution. Educators explore new ways to support families as they transition between the early childhood setting and the congregational school setting. Participants serve as critical colleagues for network members to experiment and implement new strategies

Leadership for Growth
This Long Island network was created in response to changes taking place in the schools in our community as more and more veteran directors approached their retirement. This collaborative learning action network is designed to further develop dynamic, effective leadership skills. This network focuses on exploring school culture and discussing how to activate and inspire staff through goal setting and observation. Participants learn how to build collaborative teams and plan and implement effective staff and team meetings. This network is for those who have held their positions for seven years or less.

Early Family Engagement Professionals Network
This network is designed to help strengthen models of early engagement for families and explore opportunities to draw from best practices in secular early enrichment models that articulate the value and benefit of their programs. Participants are focusing on strengthening class structure and rituals; observing play and interactions; communicating progress with families; and highlighting how Jewish programming can support children and families. Visit the Coalition of Family Engagement Innovators Facebook Group

Teacher-Leaders Action Network
This network is comprised of teachers nominated by their school directors as recognized leaders within their schools. Together they  examine important tenets of leadership within Jewish Early Childhood settings. Teachers are supported to think beyond their current role in the classroom with the hope of further immersing themselves in non-classroom responsibilities within their institution. In this highly participatory community teachers will also craft and commit to partnerships and experiments that will further their leadership potential.

Outdoor Environments in Jewish Early Childhood
More often referred to as the “nature network”, this is a growing network of school directors, educators, and nature specialists working in schools throughout the NY metro area. For the 2017-2018 school year, a small cohort of these schools is focused on understanding what “Risky Play” is, and how they might make better use of their indoor and outdoor environments to stimulate play that supports each child’s risk-ful and adventurous spirit. Part of this work includes bringing new professional development opportunities to their colleagues and schools, and how they might invite parents into the conversation. The network kicked off this year with a Playworker Training at an adventure playground on Governors Island.

Reggio 201 Network
This network for early childhood directors and lead teachers was created to scaffold a new cohort of educators in examining Reggio Emilia-inspired teaching practices. Together with experts from Teaching Beyond the Square, participants examine core tenets of the Reggio philosophy including the image of the child, environment as the third teacher, documenting children’s learning and what it means for teachers and students to co-construct curriculum. Participants are further developing their understanding of developmentally appropriate, inquiry-based learning.

Project LEAD

The Project LEAD Network supports early childhood directors and their teams in deepening constructivist practices in their schools. A cohort of 12 schools began their journey in 2015 and participated in two years of focused conversations, seminars, ongoing executive coaching and on-site training to support teachers in the classroom. What has emerged since is a network of dedicated leaders engaging in a deeper level of learning and continuing to create a paradigm shift in their school towards Reggio-inspired teaching and learning which views and honors children as competent and capable. Learn more about Project LEAD and which schools are participating.


Conferences for school staff and leaders are held each spring in Westchester and on LI, and in some years in Manhattan. These professional days of learning are part of a year-round strategy with early childhood center directors and their faculty around innovative practices in early childhood such as nature-based learning and Reggio-based constructivist practices. Participation in our professional days is open to all educators in early childhood. This year’s focus, inspired by the the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, is on Israel education in early childhood. Learn more about the March 2018 conference focusing on Israel education for early childhood or the March 2017 conference focusing on the important role of open-ended play in the early childhood classroom.

School Visits

Our site visits are designed to introduce innovations in early childhood and help improve Jewish early childhood practice. In-site-ful Journeys launched in 2012 as a series of site visits to area schools, connecting colleagues in ongoing learning and spreading successful innovative practices. During site visits, educators have the opportunity to observe a school in session and see adaptations of change in early childhood practice first hand; participants interact with each director and learn how each made their vision a reality. Through learning new ideas and connecting people to each other across the NY Metro area, attendees are supported towards taking the next steps in their own innovation journey. Site visits and conversations continue in person, in the field each year, and through our webinars. Dates and details can be found in the Events section of our website.

We have built an inspiring collection of previous visits that we call Site Visit Journals, complete with resources from each visit, that can be accessed at anytime through our Insights & Journeys section