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Special Projects | Early Childhood Education

New Fellows Program to "Guarantee The Future" of Jewish Early Childhood Education


18 "Leader-Activists" from across US Named JECEI-Covenant Fellows

JECEI Partners with Bank Street, Harvard, and the Covenant Foundation to provide Summer Institutes, Seminars, Mentorship, Trip to Israel

New York, NY 5/31/2007--JECEI (the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative) and The Covenant Foundation announced the names today of 18 promising "leader-activists" chosen for intensive training and mentorship under the new JECEI-Covenant Fellows Program, created to "guarantee the future of Jewish Early Childhood Education" in North America.

Training Exceptional Leaders

The new program responds to studies showing that 79% of Jewish early childhood education directors will reach retirement age within 5-10 years. "The Fellows program addresses an urgent need," says JECEI's Executive Director, Cantor Mark Horowitz. "If we're going to keep Jewish early childhood education alive, excellent, and keep our families and children in Jewish learning environments, we need to train promising young educators to become exceptional leaders in the field."

To that end, 18 Jewish early childhood educators have been chosen as Fellows. They are: Peter Blair of Seattle, Washington; Sarah Cunin of Reno, Nevada; Ellen Dietrick of Charlottesville, Virginia; Julie Eisman of Waterford, Michigan; Anna Hartman of Atlanta, Georgia; Kathy Kaberon of Evanston, Illinois; Shosh Korrub of Deerfield, Illinois; Sandra Levi of North Miami Beach, Florida; Valerie Lustgarten of Aventura, Florida; Veronica Maravankin of Wellington, Florida; Michal Mendelow of Stamford, Connecticut; Beth Raz of Oak Park, Michigan; Rivkie Spalter of Mequon, Wisconsin; Marcy Stieglitz of Los Angeles, California; Rebecca Swartz of Boulder, Colorado; Debbie Weinberger of Silver Spring, Maryland; Jordana Weiss of Southfield, Michigan; and Hannah Williams of Atlanta, Georgia.

A "Wraparound Support Network"

In collaboration with Bank Street College of Education, a recognized leader in child-centered education, and Project Zero at Harvard University, the JECEI-Covenant Fellows Program will include two summer institutes and frequent seminars featuring cutting edge leadership development, systemic thinking, and dialogue-based Judaic learning. In addition, the support services for this group of eighteen will include monthly phone conferences and guided online discussion groups as well as individual mentorship.

"Much as we believe an excellent Jewish Early Childhood Center encompasses not only the child and the family, but the community as a whole, we plan to give the fellows the same sense of a wraparound support network throughout their experience as JECEI-Covenant Fellows," says Horowitz. The Fellowship also includes a trip to Israel to meet with counterparts in order to share work, familiarize the participants with the land, and study at some of Israel's foremost Early Childhood Centers.

Harlene Appelman, Executive Director of The Covenant Foundation, says that this type of mentorship and training is integral to the future of Jewish education. "We are investing in a cadre of leaders who will have what they need to work together," she says. "Through intensive training, regular meetings and travel, the cohort will create a group of colleagues on whom they can depend and turn to for advice."

About the Sponsors:

The Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI) was launched in 2005 to create a group of vanguard Jewish early childhood centers across North America using the best practices of early childhood, adult, and family education, the most recent studies in brain development and social/emotional learning, and the accumulated lessons of organizational change efforts throughout the educational world. JECEI works to realize a vibrant vision of early childhood education framed by and embedded within foundational Jewish values that are meaningful and compelling to contemporary Jewish families seeking supportive communities and the highest quality education for their children.

The Covenant Foundation was established in 1990 to celebrate and support innovative approaches in Jewish education. It pursues this vision through two programs: the Covenant Awards, which honor individual accomplishment by outstanding Jewish educators, and the Covenant Grants, which support innovative programming.

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