Pursuing Best Practice at “The Big Read”
On January 4, 2010, 165 early childhood educators from nine Denver/Boulder Jewish early childhood education (ECE) centers gathered at the Hebrew Educational Alliance to learn together at the annual ECE Conference sponsored by CAJE (Colorado Agency for Jewish Education) and JECEI (Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative). The Conference, entitled “The Big Read,” was dedicated to the concept of teachers as learners.
Teachers explored one of five topic areas related to Jewish ECE (Jewish Big Ideas, Emergent Literacy, Parent Engagement, Reggio Inspired Practice, and Anti-Bias Education) through engaging interactive experiences and discussion of shared readings on the topics. The Conference supports the work of the Colorado Jewish ECE Initiative, the goal of which is to grow and transform Jewish ECE Centers into schools of the highest quality, both pedagogically and through seamlessly weaving Jewish values and traditions into everyday experiences. The ultimate hope is to ignite an interest, desire and commitment to meaningful Jewish living and learning for young families. The four year Initiative is funded though a generous grant from the Rose Community Foundation.
The Colorado ECE Initiative was launched in July of 2008 and the work of JECEI in the schools plays a major role. Denver/Boulder is one of the first to work with JECEI on a community wide level. Six times a year leaders from all ten Denver/Boulder Jewish ECE Centers gather to learn together as a community, and twice a year they join leaders from other schools across the country who are working with JECEI for National Retreats. For more information on the JECEI approach, go to www.jecei.org.
Six of the schools are on a transitional change journey, meaning that they have isolated a specific area in which they would like to grow. The Boulder Jewish Day School Early Childhood program is one of the transitional schools. Four of the schools are on a transformational change journey, receiving additional intensive support with a JECEI coach/consultant related to Jewish big ideas, constructivist education, emotionally responsive practice and organizational change and leadership theory. The Boulder Jewish Community Center Preschool is one of the four transformational schools.
I was hired in 2008 as the CAJE ECE Specialist who is spearheading the Colorado ECE Initiative. In addition to working collaboratively with the JECEI coach, I support the implementation of additional recommendations that grew out of a 2006 study of Denver/Boulder Jewish ECE Centers. These goals are related to Jewish identity, program quality and access to programs for Jewish families.
For further information on the Colorado Jewish ECE Initiative, contact me at 303.321.3191 x222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about JECEI contact Lori Geismar Ryan at 314.239.6136 or at email@example.com.