Our four and five year old students chose as the theme for their Honoring Ceremony, “A Time Capsule.” A time capsule is significant in that it marks a particular moment in time, in this case by including descriptions of each of those students at this specific moment – their likes in terms of activities, food, favorite books, etc. They created a special t-shirt on which they each drew a representation of themselves as a member of our class of 2014/2015. They have chosen particular items to include in the time capsule which are meaningful specifically to them. For many of these students, the end of summer camp is a time of transition- to new schools, to new experiences with friends who are yet unknown. And as we mark this moment in time, author Joyce Carol Oates noted there is a certain “strangeness of time. Not in its passing, which can seem infinite, like a tunnel whose end you can’t see, whose beginning you’ve forgotten, but in the sudden realization that something finite has passed, and is irretrievable.
We have had an eventful year-from bake sale to art sale to book sale, from Curriculum Night to Conferences, from Chanukah Breakfast to model Seders for three age groups, from Special Person’s Days to a Family Appreciation Concert with Big Ship, and from Messy Night to Jelly Belly Day, to mention only a few of our activities. We partnered with the Senior Adult Department for a number of activities- engaging with surrogate grandparents in the Sukkah, singing Chanukah songs, and learning about the origins of Blossom Music Center. We have begun prenatal and infant yoga, gone to Graf’s and hiked through the outdoors, explored different media in terms of art, built and destroyed Lego structures, and, best of all, have gotten back in the pool for swimming!
From a more adult perspective, parents came to the Gala, assisted with Purim Ball, heard David Blatt speak, and worked on and supported our first ever ECE/SACC Fundraiser, “Spring for the Kids.” Parents assisted as members of the Parent Committee, as Mystery Readers, as Book Sale volunteers, in classrooms, and as helpers at special events. From a professional standpoint, teachers made a concerted effort to attend in-service events, acquire CDAs, and generally upgrade their understanding of the profession of early childhood education. We focused on a mitzvah (a good deed) each month and made the news on Romona’s Kids with our Salvation Army clothing collection.
While it may now seem a distant memory, we also cleaned up our preschool hallways, and began to replace our classroom furniture and add new pieces- small wooden toddler kitchens, sensory tables, a larger mat in the infant room, a triangle mirror crawler for the other infant room, mirrors for dramatic play areas, and easels - to some of our rooms. Teachers received cameras to better help document the explorations and learning which occurred in their rooms, and we partnered with Kent State and University of Akron, as well as Summit DD to provide educational opportunities, and hosted several events for teachers and parents.
Next year, we look to expand our Mom’s Night Out activities to six times a year, have a formal Conference Day for parents and teachers, and provide more opportunities for collective learning as a community of teachers and parents. We will have a visit from national JCCA director of Early Childhood, Mark Horowitz, and he will speak to us about Sheva: the JCC Association’s Early Learning Framework which outlines an exciting and dynamic vision of excellence in Jewish early childhood education, allowing JCCs to build innovative programming for children, staff and families. We will build upon the secular workshop we had on inclusion with one that traces the principal of inclusion back to early Biblical writing on the topic, and explore the concept of kindness, and its application, as a community. We anticipate having student teachers in our classrooms and are excited about what lies ahead for our children and community!
We will continue to improve our physical space, as well. (This past year, we replaced every electrical outlet in the pre-school wing with safety outlets.) We are writing a grant to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to create a pollinator garden in our playground area, close to the new outdoor walls which went up this past year. Our Parent Committee will meet once a month and be forming sub committees to explore nutrition in the preschool , different forms of communication between school and home, as well as several other topics. We look forward to your contributions and input on the topics that resonate for you in regard to your children’s education.
Later this summer, we will be burying our Time Capsule in the corner by our swing set, the future site of our pollinator garden. We wonder what future students will make of it when we dig it up ten years from now. Just as few of us could have imagined the rapid expansion of technological discoveries and products which we now take for granted, what will they make of what will to them, no doubt, feel like ancient history? It seems fitting to close with another thought about time from the Honoring Ceremony, this time by Denis Waitley:
“Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes each day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
Our students have many bright tomorrows ahead of them. I have spent time in classrooms, getting to know your students- listening to their stories or visiting with them in the office, reading books, cooking, showing them different learning materials- ways of using them, painting, or creating. I was thrilled to see that the art project we began on Messy night and then continued to enhance throughout the year, was selected “Best in Show” for its age group at a recent juried art show. There is something very powerful and fundamental about creation, about transforming a blank canvas into something new and thought provoking. It seems almost a metaphor. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes
Each particular spark, each individual soul
is unique and special, in terms of its essence,
its capacity, and what is demanded of it. No
two souls coincide in their actions, their functions,
and their paths. No one soul can take the
place of another, and even the greatest of the
great cannot fill the special role, the
particular place of another that may be the smallest of
the small. From this notion, incidentally, derives Judaism’s
profound respect for human life. The life of one person is
something that has no possible substitute or exchange;
nothing and no one can take its place.
Have a wonderful summer and thank you for the gift of your children and your support.