Elevating the Field of Early Childhood

Posted on 12/22/2023 @ 05:00 AM

Tags: Jewish Schools & Educational Services

Photo by Monica Sedra on Unsplash

My mindset has shifted in understanding how children learn so differently, and in this series, I learned when their needs are being met and how to meet them. I’m very happy to have been a part of this learning. Keep up the great work!” - ECE Educator, Rambam Day School at Temple Beth Am

How does the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE) elevate the teaching taking place in our Jewish school classrooms?


Through outstanding professional development workshops that teachers are happy to be part of.


CAJE’s Jewish Early Childhood Professionals Network’s (JECPN) 3-part professional development learning series on developmentally appropriate practices in Early Childhood has concluded with outstanding evaluations from both the classroom teachers and the ECE Directors.


A record number of 150 ECE educators — teachers and directors -- learned together for 6 hours of high quality instruction. 


This year, CAJE’s JECPN has grown tremendously, with 4 new Jewish ECE programs joining the network – totaling 28 preschools throughout Miami-Dade.


CAJE programs are one of the few times that educators from across the denominational spectrum gather together, learning to see each other as a community.


The following ECE programs were all represented at the workshops: Temple Beth Am, Michael-Ann Russell JCC, Scheck Hillel, The Gan, Beth Moshe, Hebrew Academy (RASG), the Gordon School at Congregation Beth David, Gan Sinai, Lehrman, Bet Shira, the Alper JCC, Margaux School at Temple Judea, Yeshiva Elementary School, Midtown Jewish Preschool, and Muss Montessori.


A special mention must be made that almost all the staff at Yeladim Miami Preschool / Beit David Highland Lakes Shul - one of the JECPN’s newest schools attended every training, including the the on-site director Viviana Chizik.


And 30 staff members - the highest number of educators in the entire network — came from Tauber Academy at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center under the leadership of Jenny Tettner Gugig, the ECE Director!


Feedback from the teachers was detailed and extremely positive, with many expressing feelings of camaraderie with fellow educators and relief that they are not alone in their challenges: 


“What I learned is that I am not alone, that difficult moments are not only happening to me. Listening to other teachers’ experiences and difficulties was so helpful.”

- ECE educator, Beth Moshe


Other educators expressed gratitude for learning new concepts and refreshing old ones in an engaging and comprehensive way:


“I think my favorite part of the workshop was the third day when we spoke about behavior and discipline. It really changed the way I want to interact with children that I perceive as not listening and not behaving.” - ECE Educator, Scheck Hillel


Another popular sentiment amongst the attendees was their appreciation for the relatability and informative nature of the classes:


“These three workshops were very informative and helpful. It taught me the skill of how to sit back and observe the students in the classroom, to understand there are different ways children develop. Children’s motivation to learning increases when their environment fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.” - ECE Educator, Tauber Academy at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center


Research shows that the recipe for the most effective and high-quality education combines professional development and ongoing support.


As such, CAJE is excited to use this workshop series as a kick-off to a teacher support program starting in January.


Every month in the upcoming secular year, any ECE educator working in a Jewish school will be able to submit questions and come together online to discuss and problem solve, receiving mentorship and support that is designed to elevate the entire field of early childhood

Want to learn more about CAJE’s Early Childhood Education initiatives and programming? E-mail CAJE’s Director of Early Childhood and Congregational Education Yehudis Smith at yehudissmith@caje-miami.org.