Pursuing Excellence Through Your Early Childhood Center
In the realm of early childhood education, congregations are not only competing with other Jewish institutions but with a wide array of programs that are
responsive and are meeting the needs of families. The increased costs of running schools and the impact of government-funded universal pre-kindergarten are
among many factors that are changing the landscape of early childhood education.
Many of today's parents of young children are finding that their needs are
not being met in our congregational early childhood centers (previously referred to as preschool) so they are going elsewhere. In order to compete, Reform
congregations must take a comprehensive approach to early childhood education and develop a unique identity in today's ever changing marketplace. The early
childhood director, synagogue professionals and/or lay leaders must work together as partners. Through the community of practice model, the URJ will
support early childhood leadership teams as they navigate the change process.
What is the URJ Pursuing Excellence Through Your Early Childhood Center Community of Practice?
Participants will look deeply at the realities facing their own congregations and learn about the challenges facing other members of the community
of practice. Leadership
teams will work with partners from other URJ congregations guiding and supporting each other as they study and learn together. Members of this community
of practice will
engage in critical thinking and deep reflection to begin working towards the pursuit of excellence. We will provide a platform for professionals and lay
leaders to examine and implement new ideas and share their findings, while forging new connections and learning from one another. The specific goal of this
Community of Practice is to ensure that congregations make the early childhood center a gateway to deep, lifelong engagement for children and families
Through an 18-month cycle, participating congregations will research and reflect on the realities of their congregation, study best principles of the field
together, build a network of peer support and guidance, draft and implement transformative steps toward innovation and share measurable results with the
cohort and greater Movement.
Cathy Rolland, Faculty, Early Childhood Education, 212.650.4111, email@example.com
Research/Study of the Field
Community of practice participants will take part in on-going monthly webinars/conference calls to explore relevant topics, hear from informants from
the field, study best principles and explore common challenges.
Experiment Design: From Theory to Visioning:
After learning together for a few months, congregations will craft an experiment that challenges their own engagement work. With the support and
guidance of the cohort, each congregation will hone their experiment to ensure clear vision, goals, process and benchmarks for success.
Experiment Implementation: Getting Our Hands Dirty:
Participating congregations will launch their experiments, receiving on-going support and reporting back to cohort to share successes and troubleshoot
Through clearly identified benchmarks for success, congregations will be able to track their accomplishments.
Throughout the 18-month cycle and beyond, opportunities will be presented to participating congregations to share their successes with the wider
Movement. These opportunities will take place at Movement meetings and conferences, including URJ Biennial 2013, as well as on webinars.
Who should apply?
Congregations that currently have a well-established early childhood center (preschool) with a full-time director.
Early Childhood Professionals who have experience with and are open to the process of organizational change.
Congregations that have identified a team that will participate in the community of practice - an early childhood director and a synagogue board member.
Congregations that have secured commitments (time, financial resources) from: president, board of trustees, and professional staff.
Why Should my Congregation Participate?
Strengthen your congregations ability to continue to grow the number of families choosing your early childhood center.
Increase the impact of the Jewish early childhood experience and make your congregation more sustainable for the long term.
Explore the changing landscape of early childhood education, framing your learning through a lens of Jewish values.
Focus on intentionality, formulating strategies to create a cohesive and consistent vision of excellence in your community.
of Practice Participant Benefits
Learn via collegial coaching, mentoring and peer-to-peer sharing.
Reflect on your practice and individual and community challenges.
Experiment, in a safe and supportive environment, with new and innovative approaches in the early childhood center and in connecting families to the congregation.
What Resources Are Needed to Participate?
Participating congregation (preferred) and/or individual CoP members are required to cover the costs associated with sending (a) representative(s) to two
of Practice Launch Gathering, January 25-27, 2013, Chicago, IL
of Practice Culmination Gathering, Spring 2014, Location TBD
Further, we strongly encourage participating congregations to send (a) delegate(s) to the URJ Biennial, December 11-15, 2013 in San Diego. During this
of practice group learning opportunities will take place as well as occasions to highlight participant experiments/ pilot work to the greater Movement.
Implementing Your Experiment/ Pilot
In order to successfully implement the engagement experiment/pilot that the congregation develops through community
of practice participation, financial support beyond what
is currently offered is required to ensure success. This will vary widely from one congregation to the next, but appropriate allocation of financial
resources will be necessary.
Leadership/ Human Resources
Strong leadership is the cornerstone to success. Therefore, alongside the congregation's allocation of financial support, human resources must be
dedicated. This includes the designation of participant(s) in the community
of practice program as well as commitment and time of leadership to successfully roll-out the
chosen experiment/pilot initiative.