Roth Family JCC appoints Kacie Zemel to Youth & Camp director
August 11, 2017
When Kacie Zemel relocated from Orlando to North Miami Beach to accept a position as a third-grade teacher at a Jewish day school, she still thought of herself as an active participant in The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando community-despite living more than 200 miles away.
She would teach her children by day, and then continue to make plans for The Roth Family JCC at night. During school breaks, instead of relaxing or recuperating, she would make the journey to Maitland to oversee the JCC's winter and spring break camps. Her dedication was so great that in summer 2016, she secured seasonal housing just to work at Camp J throughout the summer.
Beginning with this school year, Zemel will no longer have to split her residence-as The Roth Family JCC has appointed her as its new Youth & Camp director effective Aug. 21. In that role, Zemel will be responsible for providing professional planning, direction, implementation, supervision, and administration of all facets of year-round children's and family programming for grades K-8, and grades 1-10 during the summer.
"When the Youth & Camp director position became available, I felt that it was the calling I needed to make my way back to Orlando," Zemel said. "It's a wonderful opportunity to learn, grow professionally, and work with the campers and staff that I have grown to love over the course of my time here."
Before she lived this geographically disparate life, Zemel was immersed in day-to-day life at The Roth Family JCC. She began as a part-time Welcome Center Associate in 2010, and then took on the role of Birthday Party coordinator. One day she was asked if she'd like to become Camp J's Arts & Craft specialist, and that commenced her professional summer camp journey. She worked her way up to Head Specialist, and then transitioned into Camp J coordinator, and finally to Camp J assistant director-a position she held during summer 2017.
"Kacie has been a part of our JCC family for a long time, but we are very excited to finally welcome her aboard full-time," said Robby Etzkin, the JCC's executive director, who has twice served as The Roth Family JCC's camp director on an interim basis since he arrived in 2012-and personally trained Zemel. "She's organized, empathetic, and extraordinarily dedicated."
Etzkin added that it's always the best-case scenario to promote from within, so that the director can build upon existing bonds with colleagues, parents, and children, rather than starting from scratch.
JCC life is practically a part of Zemel's DNA. She attended the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie for preschool, summer camp, and after school care. Her time at the JCC launched her on a Jewish journey that led her to becoming chapter president of her USY chapter in high school.
"I grew up with a strong Jewish identity. I was involved in the JCC growing up, went to a Jewish sleepaway camp, graduated from a Jewish day school, and was involved in Jewish teen programming. In college, it was natural for me to find my way back to the JCC."
Zemel explained that her Jewish education combined with her love for the JCC, and working at the J just felt right. While she worked part-time, she earned her Bachelor's in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida. She continued her education in South Florida by graduating from the Jewish Federation of Broward County's Horizons Leadership Program.
When Zemel talks about this new opportunity, she practically oozes enthusiasm. She explained that she is focused on creating a "safe and creative environment for campers and staff to be who they are, grow and develop, try new things and make friendships that last a lifetime."
She wants parents to know that "regardless of where you come from, or your background, I will do everything I can to find a place for your child in our programming, whether it be after school in our J University program, at a School's Out Day, on the weekend for Saturday Night Out, during the summer at Camp J, or over a winter or spring break."
Parents interested in learning more about what The Roth Family JCC offers children and families can contact Zemel at 407-621-4038 or KacieZ@orlandojcc.org