Reflections from an Early Childhood Jewish Educator

Hard to believe, but November has arrived, and with the end of year in sight, the staff at the Early Childhood Education Initiative decided it would be a great idea to share a personal story from one of our programs. Here is some insight from one Early Childhood Jewish Educator who is currently enrolled in the second cohort of the Certificate in Jewish Early Childhood Education through Gratz College program. We are grateful to Gratz student Emma Schnur, who so graciously agreed to share some of her experiences with us.


By Emma Schnur

I like to think that I was destined to be an Early Childhood Educator. When I was a child and had days off from school, I would go with my mother to her preschool classroom. I was delighted whenever I was asked to cut out shapes for projects, take out manipulatives or simply sit with the children during circle time. Those were the days that I greatly looked forward to, and from that young age, I knew I was meant to work in the field of Early Childhood Education.

I received my BA in psychology with a minor in Education from the University of California at Davis. Since graduation I began working at Gan Avraham, the preschool program at Temple Beth Abraham. I spent the year working primarily in the two year old program, and I was thrilled to finally be able to work in a classroom of my very own. During the year, I worked alongside two experienced co-teachers and learned a great deal about being a teacher and my own educational values. Through this experience, I quickly realized that I wanted to formalize my education and learn as much as I could about this ever changing field.

The Gratz experience has been extremely enlightening for me in the several months I have been in the program. I have been able to involve myself in a group of teachers where I can discuss my perceptions, questions and hesitations, and learn through listening to other educators who deeply care about their work. The curriculum has enabled me to reflect on my own ideals about Jewish education and to understand how to maintain my Jewish values and infuse them into everyday activities.

Recently, the Gratz cohort went on a retreat to Green Gulch Farm. In this incredibly beautiful environment, we were asked to look at the tremendous natural beauty around us and hone in on the details. We were asked to step away from our usual perceptions as teachers and consider the viewpoints of children. Though it may have been completely new territory for some of us, we were asked to simply notice—notice how we act in the classroom and notice what our students are interested in.

This program has given me the tools to recognize how my attitude and ideas greatly impact the children, and the teachers within the cohort have inspired me to become more reflective in my classroom. I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the program, and am highly anticipating the learning yet to come.


November 23, 2011


The Federation