Fifteen Jewish early childhood education directors and master teachers completed their participation in the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI) on August 1. JECELI is a joint program of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC), in consultation with the Bank Street College of Education.
JECELI members represent various types of Jewish communities across the country and all major denominations of Judaism. They learn skills in leadership, supervision, and organizational administration; gain insight into adult development; and practice infusing Jewish thought and resources into all aspects of Jewish early childhood education. The program consists of distance learning and extensive mentoring, plus an orientation retreat and three in-person seminars (including one in Israel).
Says Alana Weinberg, a member of JECELI's second cohort, now progressing through the program, "JECELI is one of a kind! There is no other program where Jewish early childhood directors can learn from each other as well as from mentors in a program rich with Torah." Weinberg, early childhood education director at Stein Yeshiva in Yonkers, New York, adds, "Through JECELI, I have met the most amazing educators/peers, who each have something unique to share and something unique for me to learn from-amazing mentors who can and will guide me as a young director through some challenging times-and the most amazing head of the program, Lyndall [Miller], who orchestrates it all, bringing in the best teachers/speakers and texts."
"Through JECELI, we are creating a nationwide community of leaders in Jewish early childhood education," says Lyndall Miller, program director. "The members of the first cohort will be generative centers of learning and innovation in their communities, as well as advocates for deepening Jewish engagement for families and young children across the country."
"The successes of JECELI demonstrate how collaboration can lead to innovative programs and initiatives," says Chip Edelsberg, executive director of the Jim Joseph Foundation, which funds JECELI through its Education Initiative. "Jewish early childhood education has a significant impact on creating strong Jewish families and, in that way, contributing to the vibrancy of Jewish communal life. Inter-institutional collaboration is a key component of the Education Initiative, and JTS and HUC together are developing highly skilled Jewish educators in this area."