Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

JCC joins Sheva Learning Community

The leadership of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando’s Early Childhood Learning Centers returned in March from the JCCs of North America Professional Conference at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, where they studied together in the JCC Association’s new early childhood framework Sheva. More than 80 early childhood leaders, including directors Carol McNally from the Roth JCC’s Richard S. Adler Early Childhood Learning Center in Maitland, and Brenda Sher, from the JCC’s Jack & Lee Rosen Southwest Orlando Campus, learned together for five days, including an additional day after the full conference ended and formed Learning Communities throughout the continent.

“The conference’s Sheva learning workshops were fascinating,” said Sher. “The learning philosophies delineated within a framework of Jewish values will further strengthen our already strong curriculum.”

The number seven has extraordinary power in Jewish thought and practice. Because of its deep roots in Jewish tradition, JCC Association chose the word sheva, which means seven, as the name of its early childhood education initiative. The seven core elements of Sheva are firmly rooted in the latest research on child development. They are:

1. Children as constructivist learners

2. Early childhood directors as visionaries

3. Early childhood educators as professionals

4. Families as engaged partners

5. Environments as inspiration for inquiry

6. Discover: CATCH as Sh’mirat HaGuf (taking care of our bodies)

7. Israel as the story of the Jewish people.

“We believe that this framework will make the JCC the central address for high quality early childhood education in the community,” said Mark Horowitz, vice president of early childhood education and family engagement for JCC Association.

McNally agreed.  “In many ways, we are already a model of early childhood education for the Central Florida community.  Joining forces with this national initiative will only make us stronger.”

McNally and Sher, along with their teams, will be studying together for two years using Sheva’s seven core elements as the foundation, participating in virtual learning opportunities, and bringing their discoveries to Orlando JCC’s early childhood staff and community.

Sher said she is also pleased to implement a complementary initiative, Discover: CATCH, which will teach healthy habits through a grant by the Florida Blue Foundation.

Early childhood education has been a centerpiece of JCCs for almost a century, and historically it has been a gateway into JCC programming for families with young children. Just as the early years are a critical time for a child’s individual development, the time spent in early childhood centers is also a critical time in a family’s identity formation and connection to their local JCC.

For more information about Sheva, or the JCC’s Early Childhood Learning Centers, contact Carol McNally at 407-645-0923 or CarolM@orlandojcc.org, or Brenda Sher at 407-387-2741 or BrendaS@orlandojcc.org.


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