Nap Time is Over: Lessons Learned from the Early Childhood Education Initiative Event

On June 2, 2008, the Early Childhood Education Initiative hosted a gathering to present its findings on novel approaches and ideas for Bay Area Jewish pre-schools with five areas of emphasis:

  • Compensation and Finance
  • Standards of Excellence
  • Connecting with Jewish Families
  • Professional Development
  • Community Engagement

The evening focused on the Initiative’s desired outcome for the Bay Area to become a model Jewish community that welcomes and sustains families with young children. The event provided the opportunity to gather and collaborate as a community which energized participants and created a sense of possibility in reaching the goals of the ECE Initiative. The 150 participants included rabbis, educators, agency executives, community professionals and lay leaders who work with and care about young children and their education. They were asked to provide their insights and suggestions on how to realize the Initiative’s goals. Many felt that the involvement of different communities in the change process was both a reassuring and a positive step in moving forward. The evening was full of information and ideas involving innovation and change in the structure of Early Childhood Jewish Education. Many attendees addressed both new ideas and known issues in the ECJE community such as low salaries of ECE educators, the importance of funding for ECE, lack of slots in Jewish preschools, and the strong impact that ECJE has on the entire family. Outreach to diverse families such as interfaith, LGBT, and families with special needs children was key for many educators. A welcoming, inclusive Jewish preschool must include support and continuing education for all families moving through preschool and into the larger Jewish community. Most participants felt that professional compensation, both for new teachers and existing teachers/administrators, is the most important issue of the ECE Initiative. The personal stories shared that night confirmed that the future of the ECJE depends on recruiting and maintaining stellar teachers. Many expressed that this effort must include a sound funding and marketing strategy as well as the establishment of continuing education opportunities for teachers. The ECE Community Event participants were hopeful about the Initiative and felt it was important that the entire community was taking ECJE seriously. Everyone left the evening with a call to action. They heard the message that it is time for innovation in Early Childhood Jewish Education in the Bay Area. By Jasmine Blanchard, ECE Initiative Assistant and Vivien Braly, Program Coordinator for Parenting Matters

Categories: Events, Kids & Families


June 26, 2008


The Federation