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The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future

Pittsburgh Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative

September 2, 2011

The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future in partnership with the Agency for Jewish Learning (AJL) recently sponsored the first of two back-to-school in-services for Jewish early childhood professionals.  Both in-services are entitled, Energizing the Imagination and Potential of Early Childhood Professionals: the Reggio Emilia Approach and will help to frame the work this year with the Pittsburgh Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI) Pilot.  The Reggio Emilia approach immerses children in a dynamic learning process and in fact, in creating their own learning environment while also engaging parents and families in meaningful experience.  The Reggio Emilia approach is at the core of the Pittsburgh JECEI Pilot and the AJL is working closely with experts in the Reggio Emilia approach, as well as with Family Jewish Educators to develop a process that will reach into all Jewish early childhood learning centers with a cutting-edge approach we are calling "Reggio through a Jewish lens."

The in-service, hosted by Congregation Beth Shalom, was facilitated by Jennifer Strange, founding member and recent co-chair of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, and was attended by 112 early childhood educations from the South Hills and Squirrel Hill Early Childhood Development Center at the Jewish Community Center, the Preschool at Congregation Beth Shalom and the Preschool at Hillel Academy. 

Recognizing that early childhood education is a unique opportunity to engage both young children and their parents in a rich and meaningful Jewish communal life, CFJF is committed to transforming Jewish early childhood education schools by inspiring increasing numbers of new families to enroll in Jewish pre-schools of the highest quality. 

Some remarks form participants included:

"Thanks to the United Jewish Federation and the Agency for Jewish Learning for providing the stepping stones for our imaginations to soar!"

"Jennifer presented much information to give us a basis for the Reggio Emilia approach to education.  It was great guidance to implement in our preschool."

"The training was so valuable and this in-service was very enriching.  I will take the information from this class and follow through with my colleagues and other professionals."

"Very interesting and informative information ~ thank you!"