This past month, the Boulder JCC hosted the second think tank of JCC Association of North America’s Sheva Lab Communities. Sheva Lab Communities are advocates for the rights of children and families and for the professionalism of JCC Early Childhood Educators. They generate environments of inquiry, innovation, and outreach which extend the opportunity to learn together, offering their sites and resources as catalysts for conversation, collaboration, and continued thinking with JCCs across the continent.
The Boulder JCC, a Sheva Lab community, was host to twenty-three early childhood administrators from nine JCC communities. They gathered to work on the vision and mission of the lab communities to determine ways to strengthen the field of early childhood Jewish education for JCCs across North America.
During their time in Boulder, the lab community leaders crafted the foundation of a framework to support the JCC movement. In addition, the leaders took time to visit the Phillips ECC as well as the Milk and Honey Farm at the J, to experience the integration of the school’s philosophy and curriculum with specialized programs in the arts, music and of the farm itself as an essential component of children’s learning.
Mark Horowitz, Vice-President and Director of the Sheva Center for Innovation in Early Childhood Jewish Education and Education at JCC Association, shared:
“We strive to be thought partners and not models. Our individual and collective journeys have inspired our commitment to this initiative. Our goal is to ensure, through professional development (employing the best research in early childhood care and education), and a dedication to the values of our tradition, that we support and prepare our children and their families for the complexities of the 21st century.”
In 2016, the Boulder JCC Jay and Rose Phillips Early Childhood Center [Phillips ECC] and eight other communities were selected by the Sheva Center to be Lab Communities for the 125 JCC ECCs in North America. The Phillips ECC was chosen based on the journey it has taken over the last decade, which involved success in implementing a framework for living Jewish values, building leadership, focusing on family engagement, and excellence.
The group will next be convening along with 80 other school leaders at JCC Association’s Professional Conference in Orlando in March.