By COLlive staff
A select group of 26 educators and directors of Chabad preschools from around the country met this month at the Bank Street College of Education in Manhattan for a two-day conference.
Shluchos flew in from California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington State, and Florida, while others drove or took mass transit from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey and all over New York.
This is the second annual conference organized by the Chabad Early Childhood Education (CECE) network, a project of The Shluchim Office, to address the unique needs of Chabad preschools.
Working with the Bank Street educators, Shluchos learned new skills and strategies for observing, reflecting on and adjusting their educational programming for each child’s individual needs.
The conference last year partnered with the Stanford University Bing Nursery in Palo Alto, CA.
“Participants gained new ideas about early childhood education and met with other educators who are doing the same,” said Mrs. Devora Krasnianski, the conference organizer and director of the CECE Network.
Chabad educational programs are guided by the teachings in Klalei Chinuch Vehadracha, where the Rebbe described the importance of reflecting about each child’s specific context and personality and then helping each child individually.
Rabbi Dovid Hordiner, a graduate of Bank Street himself and a shliach and director of The Gan, Chabad’s preschool in Stamford, CT, shared his thoughts and experiences of implementing Chabad guidance and philosophy in the Gan, and how well his new strategies are blossoming.
At several points throughout the conference, the directors explored the teachings and guidance of Chassidus and how they can and should be implemented in our Chabad schools – and how they are aligned with the best practices and philosophies of the prestigious Bank Street school.
A gourmet parve dinner prepared by Levi Feigenson Catering (in order that Shluchos who rarely have access to Cholov Yisrael ice cream could enjoy that treat), Shluchos enjoyed a farbrengen with Mrs. Chanie Baron of Columbia, MD.
Baron moderated a discussion on the key importance that every aspect of our educational programs should be based on the guidance of our Rabbeim and Torah.
This was expounded on to encompass every aspect of childhood education, including the way each child should see his own worth in this world (B’Shvili Nivrah haOlam), the way children understand their thoughts and where they come from (the Yetzer Tov vs. Yetzer Hara), and encouraging children to slow down and appreciate Hashem’s wondrous world.
Partial sponsorship of the event came from a grant from Dr. Joseph Walder, a philanthropist of Skokie, IL, whose vision allowed the establishment of the CECE Network 5 years ago.
The network provides a framework for deeper thinking about how preschools can help the children and their families create long-lasting connections with Judaism in their lives.