After close to 14 years at the helm of the Savannah Jewish community you’d think I’d seen it all … and then came COVID. Not in my wildest imagination could I have ever dreamt of what we’ve been living through. The stops, the starts, the worry about your loved ones, the worry about yourself, the economy, your job, your friends, social isolation, deteriorating social fabric…the list goes on and on.
Now, imagine living through the challenges that you’ve had and think about what our Early Childhood program has been dealing with: You add the responsibility of 100 preschoolers and their families; teachers (100% vaccinated) who are balancing students, their own families and their person health; children under the age of five who have no option to get vaccinated; young couples under significant duress balancing job and family at the beginning of their careers; constantly changing class schedules as we navigate the daily infections scheduling as we follow the GA Department of Early Care and Learning regulations, then you have what Jodi Sadler has been managing over the past 20 months.
A new language has come out of the pandemic era as Jodi’s responses to the daily challenges have been nautically themed, “Captain reporting, There are rough seas out there today,” or “We are sailing in uncharted waters.”
Sometimes she responds, “It’s a balagan” (Hebrew word for “mess.”) and then questions whether the right term to use is balagan or a dafuk (Hebrew for “Screwed up”). Daily, it is a constant view in to the unknown.
Early childhood education is not only about learning basic skills. It is a time when children learn critical social and emotional skills and a partnership is formed between the children, their parents, and the teacher. When it is done well, it establishes a foundation which will continue through a child’s education.
When the program was established almost nine years ago, we created the Mission of the school “is to provide for the social, emotional and cognitive growth of the young child in a Judaic setting in order to develop productive citizens.” If we were writing the mission today, I don’t think we’d change a word.
What I didn’t deeply understand was how very important parental involvement is and what a difference it is to have a parent body who is so supportive.
Under the leadership of Katie Quackenbush and Brienne Walsh, the PTO has organized luncheons for the teachers, planned the Art Bash fundraiser, arranged holiday meals; they have even substituted in the classrooms so that the staff is able to be together for programs. They are a stellar team supported by a great group of parents.
We always say that preschool is a partnership between children, parents, teachers, and institution. Well, this partnership is without precedent.
We didn’t think the relationship could be any better when Brienne Walsh and Erin O’Leary created a video to thank the teachers and staff of the JEA Preschool.
I watched the video yesterday and I couldn’t hold back the tears in my eyes. They were tears of happiness and appreciation that Brienne and Erin organized and created the video t recognize and thank the teachers.
While we know what we do and how much we care, how special is it to hear from the parents and most importantly, from the children?
What a special video of the beautiful children. Click here to view the video.